The legal profession is leading the way in family-friendly employers, a benchmark study suggests, with several firms praised for their flexible and agile working policies.

Working Families, a work-life balance charity, ranked the Crown Prosecution Service among the top 10 employers for working families in its latest benchmark report. The Ministry of Justice makes the top 30, as does magic circle firm Allen & Overy and international firms Berwin Leighton Paisner, DWF, Hogan Lovells, Mayer Brown and Simmons & Simmons.

Julian Taylor, partner and international head of employment at Simmons & Simmons, said his firm was the first major firm to promote openness to recruiting new staff on a flexible basis.

'We have have developed practices and policies that empower both existing and new employees with the ability to choose a working pattern flexible to their needs. Personally I found it very easy to arrange my flexible working programme with Simmons & Simmons and it has not proved to be a barrier to my own career progression,' he added.

Gill McGreevy, partner and co-chair of Hogan Lovells' working families network, said the wellbeing of staff 'will contunue to be a key focus going forward'. The network holds seminars on issues relating to family life, and quarterly drop-in sessions for new and expectant parents. Last year the firm introduced a global agile working policy, which has resulted in a 'notable' increase in laptop users.

A 'thrilled' Berwin Leighton Paisner plans to support all stages of family life, with a particular focus on aspects beyond childcare.

Derek Hrydziuszko, partner and BLP family champion, said: 'We regularly host events to help foster a conversation about supporting all staff in their family lives. Recent events explored care for elderly relatives, and a joint initiative with our LGBT* Group looking at alternative family set-ups, such as surrogacy and same-sex parents. These events help BLP ensure we look after all our employees with different types of family responsibilities.'

Initiatives at Allen & Overy include 'iFlex', which allows people to work remotely as and when they need to. Sasha Hardman, global HR director, said many of the firm's working parents use this provision to ensure they can drop off and pick up their children on a regular basis while others use it as a 'commute free day'. The firm also matched its enhanced shared parental pay to the pay given to women going on maternity leave.

Annette Sheridan, global chief human resources officer at Mayer Brown, said: 'Our policies and practices enable our people to better manage the demands on their time and help us create a more inclusive workplace environment that accommodates the diverse needs of our workforce.' The firm provides firm-funded emergency childcare or eldercare, paid emergency leave, and enhanced maternity and shared parental leave. It also has an on-site GP and physiotherapist.