Flex-time push

November 30, 2009
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Is being a part-time attorney a dirty little secret? Some large companies believe so, and are working to change this mindset.

According to an article in the National Law Journal, Del Monte Foods and several other companies are adding part-time and flexible schedules to the list of requirements for outside counsel. The goal is to increase the number of women and minorities working in top law firm positions.

Del Monte’s general counsel believes the reason there are so few women and minorities in partnership positions is because they traditionally are the ones who work part-time or need flexible scheduling.

The Project for Attorney Retention is heading up the initiative, Diversity and Flexibility Connection, and hopes firms can implement some of the recommendations from the meetings between top companies and law firms. One is for firms to foster alternative work arrangements, which would let clients know the firms support flexible work schedules and that an attorney who works part-time is just as good as one who is in the office all day.

Changing how law firms are structured is no small feat. Firms, especially the large ones, are usually structured in the same way and require similar output from their attorneys. In a world of billable hours, those who desire a part-time gig may be left out in the cold. The law firm may offer flexible scheduling, but some might not utilize it for fear they will be bumped off the partner track or viewed differently than their full-time co-workers.

Is it true that those who work part-time or have a flexible schedule are viewed differently by clients and other attorneys? Is a push from the outside going to be enough to get law firms to allow and promote more flexible schedules for attorneys who need them?
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