Great Places to Work: Three Winning Law Firms

By: Kim Eisler, Sherri Dalphonse

There is no association between this article and the San Francisco consulting firm that uses the trademark GREAT PLACES TO WORK ® 

In a profession known for long hours and high-pressure work, Arnold & Porter (arnoldandporter.com)—one of Washington’s last great homegrown law firms—deserves its reputation as a humane employer. Arnold, which today has more than 1,300 employees in DC and Tysons Corner, was the first Washington law firm to offer its own on-site daycare. A part-time policy allows employees to work only 25 hours a week and maintain benefits. And A&P provides $5,000 in assistance to employees seeking adoption plus 12 weeks of paid leave.

“I took six weeks of paid paternity leave and made partner the same year—there are not too many law firms where you can do that,” says antitrust attorney Justin Antonpillai.

Employees at Dickstein Shapiro (dicksteinshapiro.com) also enjoy a supportive, family-friendly, and challenging but laid-back culture. Good work, they say, is rewarded, often with generous bonuses. Pro bono projects are encouraged—another reason attorneys are proud to work here.

The DC staff of 700 works out of an I Street office with a rooftop deck, a gym, and a subsidized cafeteria that employees call terrific. Quality-of-life initiatives are top-notch: There are chair massages, happy hours, yoga, softball, Spanish lessons, and a subsidized Starbucks kiosk.

“The firm is committed to making the workplace an enjoyable place to be,” says partner Matt Bergman.

A small firm usually can’t match the starting salaries at marquee firms, but at Bailey Law Group (baileylawgroup.com) the young lawyers—seven of the ten attorneys are under age 30—work with clients on cases rather than being stuck in a law library doing research for a partner. They also put in fewer billable hours than at big firms, and they praise the flexibility.

The firm’s generosity—it pays 100 percent of healthcare premiums, for example—extends to charity. One day a year, the office is closed and everyone goes shopping at Potomac Mills for holiday gifts for about 100 needy children.

Says Kathy Bailey: “Our philosophy of taking care of people—that’s what holds us together.”