Law firms do not encourage men to take parental leaves

The professional ethos of law firms discourages men from taking parental leave, a new Finnish-Canadian study shows. Carried out by the University of Eastern Finland and TÉLUQ University in Quebec, the study found that the professional culture in law firms rests on traditional masculine ideology, with men regarded as the providers for their families. This view does not encourage men to combine their professional career and child care. The findings were reported in the International Journal of the Legal Profession.

The fact that few male lawyers take parental leave is an indication of gender inequality within the legal profession.

“In law firms, family policies and flexible working arrangements are mainly targeted at women, and this has a negative impact on women’s career development. If fathers took a more active role in child care, it would facilitate the emergence of a professional culture that is more family-friendly. In the process, it is also likely that this would reduce gender bias in the division of legal tasks and career paths within law firms,” Researcher Marta Choroszewicz from the University of Eastern Finland explains.

The study examined male lawyers’ motives behind taking or not taking paternity and parental leaves in law firms based in Helsinki, Finland, and in Montreal, Canada. Canadian male lawyers were significantly less keen to take paternity leave than their Finnish colleagues. This is partly explained by Finland’s longer paternity leave tradition. Instead of taking paternity leave, Canadian male lawyers preferred taking annual holiday when their child was born.

The greater popularity of paternity leave in Finland is also explained by organisational differences between Finnish and Canadian law firms. In Finland, young lawyers typically work as members of a team, and they for example face lower expectations to attract new clients than their Canadian colleagues. In Canada, the work revolves more around the individual, and even young lawyers are expected to contribute to marketing, networking and new client recruitment.

Preliminary findings from Finland show that there, too, the attitudes to paternity leave vary from one generation to the next. Law firm partners representing the post-Second World War generation and Generation X often did not take paternity leave when their children were small, and they do not necessarily understand the need of today’s young male lawyers to participate in early child care. In many law firms, paternity leaves are still regarded as optional, compared to, for example, maternity leaves.

“It is not enough that men’s right to parental leave is guaranteed by legislation. We also need organisational solutions, collegial encouragement and examples set by male law firm partners,” Choroszewicz points out.

In Finland, the right to paternity leave was enacted in legislation in 1978. In 2013, the length of paternity leave was extended to nine weeks. In Canada, taking paternity leave has been possible since 2006, but only in the province of Quebec, and the length is only half of what it is in Finland.

For further information, please contact: Researcher Marta Choroszewicz, tel. +358 50 330 9365, marta.choroszewicz(at)uef.fi

Research article: Marta Choroszewicz & Diane-Gabrielle Tremblay (2018). Parental-leave policy for male lawyers in Helsinki and Montreal: cultural and professional barriers to male lawyers’ use of paternity and parental leaves. Doi https://doi.org/10.1080/09695958.2018.1456435

Tags:

About Us

The University of Eastern Finland, UEF, is one of the largest universities in Finland. The activities of the UEF underscore multidisciplinarity, and the university is especially strong in research related to forests and the environment, health and well-being, and new technologies and materials. The UEF offers teaching in more than 100 major subjects. In addition to the high standard of teaching, the university offers its students a modern study environment, which is under constant development. The university comprises four faculties: the Philosophical Faculty, the Faculty of Science and Forestry, the Faculty of Health Sciences, and the Faculty of Social Sciences and Business Studies. The university’s campuses are located in the heart of beautiful eastern Finland in Joensuu, Kuopio and Savonlinna. The UEF is home to approximately 15 000 students and nearly 2 800 members of staff.

Contacts

  • University of Eastern Finland
    Joensuu / Kuopio / Savonlinna
    http://www.uef.fi/en
  • Joensuu Campus
    Yliopistokatu 2 P.O. Box 111 FI-80101 Joensuu
  • Kuopio Campus
    Yliopistonranta 1 P.O. Box 1627 FI-70211 Kuopio
  • Savonlinna Campus
    Kuninkaankartanonkatu 5 P.O. Box 86 FI-57101 Savonlinna

Subscribe

Media

Media