The Economic Benefits of On-Site Day Care in Law Firms

The Economic Benefits of On-Site Day Care in Law Firms

      

On-site child care, along with the social benefits it provides for women-lawyers at law firms, also has documented economic benefits for law firms as a business. In short, on-site child care naturally changes the efficiency at which people work in law firms. In an online Business Week article entitled "Day Care: An Office Affair," Cliff Hahn affirms that "Child care benefits the employers who sponsor it by improving employee morale, reducing turnover and absenteeism, and increasing productivity." (Hahn). Elizabeth Goldberg, author of an article in The American Lawyer entitled "Law Firm Allows Full-Time Parenting in the Workplace," attributes these changes in work behavior to freedom that parent-lawyers feel when their child is nearby. She writes, "parents are so happy to keep their kids nearby that they are motivated to perform at the top of their game. And because they aren't constantly worrying whether their child is being fed or changed, they are better able to focus." (Goldberg). The concept that having one's child around could produce increases in the amount of work that is completed by lawyers is even more understandable when taking into account a report by the National Conference of State Legislatures that found that "employers cite child-care issues as causing more problems than any other family-related issue in the workplace, with increases in absenteeism and tardiness reported in nine out of 10 companies. And 80% of the companies surveyed said that work days were cut short because of child-care problems." (Hahn). By handling child care arrangements on-site, law firms produce increases in morale and productivity that have a direct correlation to increases in revenue. In a 1995 newspaper article about Arnold & Palmer's on-site-day-care center, Richard Carelli reported that the firm experienced large financial benefits from their child care initiatives. He writes that the "backup day-care operation cost Arnold & Porter $170,000 last year, and one estimate pegs at $800,000 the increased revenue - "billable hours" - the law firm realized" (Carelli). If law firms can produce such large gains from just providing child care in cases of emergency, they are likely to see even larger profits from a year-round child care service. By taking away the burdens that mothers must face in dealing with their children off-site, law firms create an atmosphere that allows mother-lawyers to focus on their work and bill more hours - hours that directly lead to increases in revenue for the law firm. This concept is backed by Hahn who reports that the research performed in Kids at Work: The Value of Employer-Sponsored On-Site Child Care Centers - a study that looked at hundreds of employer-sponsored child-care programs employers - found that on-site day care is not only affordable but also profitable. He writes that "the researchers estimated savings in wages of $150,000 and $250,000 for just two companies that provided on-site day care" (Hahn). All of the aforementioned pieces of literature support on-site child care as a profitable service for law firms that reduces the stress of its employees and increases their productivity. On-site child care in law firms is a win-win situation: it provides a valuable service for mother-lawyers and reduces female attrition while simultaneously allowing firms to increase their profits. With these significant benefits, it is a wonder why more law firms do not provide on-site child care services...

             

Building a Better Legal Profession (BBLP) is an organization based at Stanford Law School.   BBLP is a national grassroots movement that seeks market-based workplace reforms in large private law firms. For more information, visit BBLP's Web site at www.betterlegalprofession.org.

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