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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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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