Associate Life

Work/Life Balance

We seek to cultivate a work environment that permits and encourages lawyers to practice law in a manner consistent with the firm’s core values of quality, excellence and service to clients, while maintaining rewarding family and personal lives. This goal is rooted in the fundamental notion that our firm benefits from having a diverse group of lawyers who excel in the practice of law, as well as in other aspects of their lives. Therefore, we are committed to providing our lawyers with the support they need to balance their professional obligations with their personal lives. To this end, we provide alternative work arrangements that include part-time, flextime and telecommuting schedules, as well as generous parental and family leaves, subsidized emergency childcare, and the technology required for working outside of the office.

WilmerHale continues to be a leader in family friendly practices. We were recently selected as one of ;Yale Law Women’s Top Ten Family Friendly Firms for the fifth consecutive year, and we have been honored for five years as a "firm of choice" in the NAFE & Flex-Time Lawyers survey of "Best Law Firms For Women." The "Top Ten Family Friendly Firms List" was created to celebrate firms who are the leaders in facilitating work/life balance for lawyers, and the Working Mother report examines the challenges facing female lawyers and recognizes firms that have instituted family-friendly benefits and programs that help women succeed at the firm. 

Alternative Work Arrangements

The path of a lawyer’s career may not always follow a traditional track given family and personal obligations. Under the guidance of our Work/Life Balance Committee, our lawyers use alternative work arrangements to create the best match between their personal needs and their professional obligations and development. These arrangements provide our lawyers with flexibility in pursuing their goals of professional growth and advancement while meeting significant obligations outside the office. Several lawyers at the firm were elected to partnership while working part-time or on other alternative work schedules, and a number of them continue to use such arrangements. When you interview with us, we welcome requests to introduce you to associates, counsel and partners who have made use of alternative work arrangements.

Work/life balance is a constantly evolving issue. That is one reason we have associates involved in our Work/Life Balance Committee. We also encourage lawyers at the firm to let us know what types of arrangements would be most suited to them. In many instances, our formal policies evolved from situations in which lawyers simply came to firm leadership and asked to be able to adjust their schedule in a way that worked for them. Additionally, through the Work/Life Balance Committee, lawyers taking a leave or on an alternative work arrangement, or considering such arrangements, are assigned a Work/Life Balance Advisor. Our Work/Life Balance Advisors, all partners at the firm, provide advice and guidance about issues such as schedules, assignments, professional development and strategies for transitioning back from leaves.

Commitment, Communication and Flexibility

Work/life balance rests ultimately not on formal policies, but on an approach to our practice that pays attention every day to how we manage the firm’s work, and that respects the different personal circumstances that we balance with our individual work. Finding the right balance between a challenging professional life and an enriching personal life requires commitment, communication and flexibility by the individual and by the firm. We value our colleagues as the talented individuals that they are and strive to create a collegial and team-oriented environment where everyone feels comfortable that they can be an active member of a family, have a life outside of work and pursue their own professional career path.

Finally, the firm is a more collegial place for everyone when work/life balance is a shared value. The management of the firm has been tremendously supportive of these initiatives, as have the leaders of the firm's departments. This results in an atmosphere where lawyers can discuss and address work/life balance issues openly and therefore more effectively. As Work/Life Balance Committee Co-Chair Jamie Gorelick says, these are challenging issues and we need to be able to have "adult conversations” about how to meet these challenges effectively.

Work/Life Benefits  

  • To care for a newborn or newly adopted child, lawyers may take parental leave for up to 18 weeks paid (total leave up to 12 consecutive months) for the lawyer with primary childcare responsibility or up to four weeks (paid) for the lawyer with secondary childcare responsibility. Both parents may be regarded as “primary” as long as their leaves do not overlap. To care for a member of his or her immediate family who has a serious illness or injury, a lawyer may take family leave of up to 12 weeks paid (total leave up to 12 consecutive months).
  • Our Boston, New York and Washington offices offer on-site emergency child care facilities. Our Palo Alto and Los Angeles offices offer the use of off-site emergency child care facilities. For all US offices, WilmerHale offers the Back-up Care Advantage Program, which provides center-based childcare, in-home childcare and in-home elder and adult care. This program offers 20 back-up visits per dependent per calendar year.
  • Lawyers may reduce their work schedule by up to 40% and receive pro-rata compensation.*
  • Lawyers may adjust their regular office hours and/or telecommute for up to 40% of a full-time work schedule, with no adjustment to salary or benefits.*
  • The firm also provides lawyers with technology that allows them to work effectively without having to come into the office: laptops, Blackberries and remote network access.

*The firm encourages lawyers to begin a reduced workload or flextime arrangement only after they have been in the firm for two years, or have had comparable experience elsewhere, so that it does not risk delaying their development or integration into the firm. Although the use of these policies does not itself affect the timing of a lawyer’s promotion to counsel or partner, the firm works with each lawyer to decide the appropriate timing, given the lawyer’s experience and career goals.