February 17, 2011 Practice Points

More Law Firms Offering Part-Time Alternatives

By Sabrina C. Beavens

A study released by the National Association for Legal Professionals reveals that while more law firms are offering part-time schedules, particularly at the partner level, the number of lawyers taking advantage of the programs is small, especially compared to the general workforce. Furthermore, women lawyers continue to constitute the majority of the lawyers working part-time.

For example, in 1994, 86 percent of law offices participating in the study allowed part-time schedules. By 2010, the number had increased to 98 percent. However, the growth in the percentage of lawyers working part-time has not risen as fast, increasing from 2.4 percent in 1994 to only 6.4 percent in 2010. Moreover, the rate of lawyers working part-time is far less than the general workforce. The study cites Bureau of Labor Statistics data that 14 percent of the general workforce worked part-time in 2009 and a slightly smaller percentage, 13.5 percent, worked part-time in professional specialties. Even more striking is the comparison of women to men that comprises the part-time lawyer category: 70 percent to 30 percent.

The study is replete with additional dissections of the data collected. On the partnership track and considering reducing your hours? Be aware that only 3.6 percent of partners work part-time compared to 5.3 percent of associates. Interestingly, among the part-time partners, the percentage of woman has decreased from 72 percent in 2006 to 64 percent in 2010. Working part-time may also be related to where you live. For partners desiring to work part-time, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, and Sacramento are your choice destinations. Part-time women associates are most common in Cincinnati, Indianapolis, and San Diego.

A complete summary of the study is available here.

Sabrina C. Beavens works at Iurillo & Associates, P.A. in St. Petersburg, Florida and Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

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