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Who's Taking Care of the Kids?

By Annie Gausn | Jul. 2, 2006

Law Office Management

Jul. 2, 2006

Who's Taking Care of the Kids?

Backup child care becomes a popular benefit at law firms.

By Chuleenan Svetvilas
      To retain and recruit young lawyers who have children, backup child care has become an increasingly popular benefit at law firms. In California, for example, both Bingham McCutchen and Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom began offering this service to its employees within the past few years. And as far back as the mid-'90s, Morgan Lewis & Bockius and Kirkland & Ellis offered the same benefit.
      Bright Horizons Family Solutions is a major player in this trend, providing employer-subsidized child care to about 100 law firm clients, including 50 firms with offices in California.
      The backup child care centers usually are located at or near a company's worksite, which allows parents to easily drop off their child if their regular child care falls through. "A vast array of law firms participate in consortium backup child care centers," explains Ilene Serpa, a Bright Horizons spokesperson. Employers buy memberships at a center to reserve space for their employees (one membership can serve several dozen families). "Centers are open 260 days a year and could, in theory, serve thousands of children," says Serpa.
      Annual fees for an employer range from $40,000 to several hundred thousand dollars, depending on the number of memberships a company buys. For example, a firm with offices in several locations could have memberships for each one.
      "We offer the benefit simply to provide value to partners, associates, and staff," says Annette Kuper, director of global benefits for Latham & Watkins. "It also helps attract and retain people in the marketplace. The younger generation wants to find a work/life balance." Melissa Ingalls, chair of Kirkland & Ellis's recruiting committee in Los Angeles, agrees. "In the past several years, I've noticed more questions from law students about work/life balance," she says.
      In California, 191 Latham & Watkins employees are registered to use the service, 72 of whom are attorneys. Last year the firm saved a total of 384 work days among all staff who used the service and therefore did not have to take time off.

Annie Gausn

Daily Journal Staff Writer

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