Kelly & Co has just surpassed the top-tier on paid parental leave by offering employees 16 weeks full paid maternity leave, up two weeks on the highest offering from a top-tier firm.
While firms like Mallesons Stephen Jaques and Corrs Chambers Westgarth have recently raised their paid parental leave from 12 to 14 weeks, no other mid or top-tier firm has been reported to be offering the equivalent of 16 full paid weeks.
The Adelaide-based law firm of around 120 employees - 60 per cent of whom are female - will also offer a relatively short qualifying period, compared to industry standards, of only one year.
The firm will offer the 16 weeks in addition to the Federal Government's maternity plan which comes into effect on 1 January 2011.
Kelly & Co's chief executive Stuart Price told Lawyers Weekly the increased paid parental leave is part of a wider package supporting a flexible and family-friendly work environment and that it's in line with what some businesses offer in other parts of the world.
"Relatively, Australia is well behind other countries in terms of paid parental leave and so from our perspective when we looked at it, we looked at it objectively as to what we'd like to offer our staff in a complete package," he said.
"We had a look at what other countries were doing and we identified a number of areas that we wanted to improve to make the workplace far more attractive to new graduates coming a long, for people currently in the profession and for our existing workforce."
Price added that pushing through family-friendly initiatives is helped by the fact that the average age of the 17 partners in the firm is 43, and that they already have two partners working part time.
"Our partners are very much in tune with modern thinking. They are very much in tune with having young children and the practicalities of managing work and their personal lives," he said.
Price said the partners approved the offering on the basis that they want to stay ahead of the curve in making the firm an attractive workplace for existing and future staff.
"Paid parental leave is an important issue for many graduates and for those already in the profession looking to start a family," said Price.
"You can have children and still progress in your legal career - they need not be mutually exclusive."
Price added that the firm maintains a strong family-friendly approach by offering flexible working arrangements.
"Life balance is something that is very difficult to achieve in the legal services industry," he said.
"As an employer, we are keen to be as flexible as possible whilst retaining the quality of service to our clients. We believe this flexibility encourages employees to join our team, knowing that we live and breathe our values through action."
The firm has also doubled leave entitlements for non-primary carers to two weeks.