Legal 500 has announced that it will guarantee that any lawyer recognized in its directories will have their rankings maintained during a one-year period for which they are away from practice to look after children.
In other words, if a lawyer was to take a year out after having a baby, they will not see their rankings drop in the next directory – even if the directory might otherwise consider moving them down or removing them on the basis that they hadn’t done much work or received limited market feedback.
Publishing director David Burgess said:
“We want to ensure that those lawyers and barristers who have attained recognition in our research know that taking time out for families is not going to be harmful to their rankings.”
Legal 500 says that the only requirement for law firms is that they make it clear in their submissions that a lawyer is or has recently been away from practice, so they are aware of the circumstances.
I encounter this issue a lot in my business when discussing with law firms which lawyers to put forward in submissions or talking to a female lawyer about what she’s worked on over the last year.
Typically, I will hear:
“Oh, we would like to mention partner X but she’s been out on maternity leave”
“I don’t think I should put myself forward this year because I’ve been out the office for much of the year and have only done one case.”
For lawyers in this situation, I guess it’s a personal decision as to whether they state their circumstances in the submission.
In my experience some lawyers prefer not to draw attention to parental leave and like to project a sense of continuity in terms of client relationships – US lawyers, for example, who take shorter periods of parental leave, often three months.
On the other hand, lawyers in Europe, who may have established themselves successfully in the directories, have a couple of children later in their career, and take an extended period away, may find it helpful to inform Legal 500 of their circumstances so that can be factored in to the research.