Model Practice Breast Milk Shipping Program

Latham & Watkins LLP

Industry: Legal

Principle II: Work-Life Balance and Career Development

Principle III: Health, Safety, and Freedom from Violence

Latham & Watkins LLP is a leading global law firm with 30-plus offices in the world's major financial, business, and regulatory centers. The Breast Milk Shipping Program supports the retention of women and empowers working parents at Latham. This program allows nursing mothers who choose to travel for work to safely and easily ship or check their breast milk, with Latham handling the logistics and covering the costs. The Breast Milk Shipping Program was created in recognition of the firm’s commitment to helping working women achieve work-life balance and to supporting the choices they make for their families. Due to the success of the program, the firm has recently expanded it to include the spouses and domestic partners of Latham lawyers and staff who are nursing and have to travel for work if the spouse or domestic partner’s employer does not offer a similar program.

"While motherhood is hard, we need not make it harder. Latham’s program for nursing mothers is a step in the right direction, and I hope others follow suit." 
Sophie Yu
Corporate Associate
Silicon Valley

The Breast Milk Shipping Program launched in September 2016 after a year of planning and piloting around the world. Hayley Gladstone, Global Co-Chair of the Parent Lawyers Group and Chicago associate, understands the challenges working parents face. “Creating the Breast Milk Shipping Program was a truly collaborative effort,” she explained. “This initiative joins Latham’s other programs, such as reduced pace, firm-sponsored parent networks, and various remote working tools, in helping mothers and fathers feel supported and empowered as they return to work.”

The Breast Milk Shipping Program demonstrates a significant investment in Latham’s female attorneys, staff, and their children. The program acknowledges one of the unique challenges that working mothers face when returning to work. “We created this program to support working parents at Latham, first and foremost,” said Joshua S. Friedlander, Latham’s Chief Human Resources Officer. “But we also wanted to drive change in the legal industry at large. We are so excited to start a dialogue with colleagues at other firms, and to see programs like these—which help women both personally and professionally—become the norm.”

How does this model practice work?

Upon request, the firm provides nursing mothers with a proprietary kit containing the resources necessary to ship the breast milk or store it as checked luggage, including six NUK® bags for expressed milk (holding six ounces each); a specially designed cooling unit that chills the breast milk to the proper temperature with a touch of a button, then keeps the milk cool for up to 72 hours; a shipping box and tape with which to seal it; a Sharpie marker for labelling; and a shipping label with tracking information. The contents of the box were developed in consultation with nursing mothers for nursing mothers. Everyone who uses the Breast Milk Shipping program is asked to provide feedback on the program, including the contents of the kit, so that the firm can continue to offer what is required to meet the needs of nursing mothers who need to travel for business. If additional supplies or items are identified as needed, Latham looks to expand what is included in the kit.

“The firm absolutely thought of everything,” said San Diego partner Jennifer Koh, who participated in the Breast Milk Shipping Program pilot. “All the supplies were provided by Latham and waiting for me at the hotel. The kit was incredibly easy to use.”

"As a member of the firm’s professional staff, I was particularly impressed by the fact that Latham offers this service to all women, not only lawyers." 
Elizabeth Forrest
Global Recruiting Manager
Law School Hiring & Outreach

Inside the United States, the unit can be shipped to the mother’s business-travel location, then express-shipped back to the mother’s residence or the location of her child. Outside the United States, the unit can be shipped to the mother’s business-travel location, then used to transport the milk as checked baggage on return travel. This program is a solution to the issue of taking breast milk through airport security, where security agents sometimes open and test the milk.

How can I adopt this model practice in my workplace?

The Breast Milk Shipping Program can be duplicated by other businesses and tailored to their particular needs. Latham is willing to share its best practices with other organizations to help programs like these become the norm.

Latham evaluated industry best practices and commercially available breast milk delivery services when creating a custom program that works specifically for its working mothers. An organization trying to replicate this program should work with professionals, or those familiar with these types of services, to tailor the program to fit its nursing employees and their needs.

For international shipments, the team worked to understand the regulations related to the transportation of non-hazardous materials, since breast milk is not considered a dangerous liquid. Understanding the declared value and appropriate customs forms is critical for a proper and delay-free importation process.

In order for employees to find out about the program, the organization should advertise the program to any firm-wide parents’ groups, as well as listing the program in the benefits information, on the HR webpage, and reminding employees about the program when they travel. 
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