Monday, January 08, 2007


Flextime for the Rest of Us

A recent article in the NY TImes, "Flextime for the Rest of Us," features P.J. Himmelfarb, one of the two Weil Gotshal flex-time partners. Ms. Himmelfarb joined Weil 4 years ago after one of her twin daughters was diagnosed with autism. From the beginning, she worked a flexible schedule which included moving around the country to seek new therapies for her daughter. Her work patterns were different on a daily basis and she had her calls forwarded to her cell phone.

Although the article mentions that she worked part-time, it's unclear to us whether the author was using the terms flex-time and part-time interchangeably, if Himmelfarb was in fact working a reduced AND flexible schedule, or if flex-time was considered part-time at the firm. In any event, when Ms. Himmelfarb appeared to be "'working harder than [the firm had] been paying [her],'" the firm came to her and gave her the difference in salary.

The article also mentions the following statistics: Greenberg Traurig (Miami office) just elected its first flex-time associate to partner while she was on maternity leave. Sidley Austin (Chicago office) -- 83 female attorneys work a reduced schedule; 22 are partners . Judge L. Randall Weisberg (a man) & Judge Julia Philbrook (a woman), both criminal court judges in Portland OR, job-share in the Multnomah County Circuit Court with each working every other week for half pay and nearly full benefits.

Do you work a reduced and/or flexible schedule? Would you consider sharing your arrangement on the PAR Forum? Often we hear from attorneys who would like to work a reduced or flexible schedule but who need guidance in creating their proposal. Please take a moment to post a few details about your flexible schedule so that other attorneys can benefit from your experience.

Natalie and Heather

Friday, January 05, 2007


More on Fenwick & West

Thanks to Ralph Pais for a quick response regarding Fenwick & West's work/life policies. He confirms that the firm has a terrific reduced hours policy, and has put together several programs to support its successful implementation. The firm is also planning to feature work/life issues at its upcoming all-attorney firm retreat. Ralph also states that the firm considers all aspects of diversity, including retention of women and lawyers working on reduced schedules, in the compensation program discussed in our earlier blog.



Fenwick & West Implements Innovative Diversity Program

Jesse Seyfer of The Recorder reports on a laudable new program at Fenwick & West that ties partner compensation to how well the partners support the firm's diversity goals ("Fenwick Redefines Color of Money with Diversity Goals"). Partners are given a list of suggested activities to improve minority recruiting and retention, among other things, and then associates are allowed to evaluate the partners on how well they performed. In the article, one partner reports that he received a "not insignificant" bonus for his work on a pro bono gay-rights matter and for visiting minority organizations at law schools.

The article notes that another aspect of the program includes partners being asked to ensure that attorneys of both genders and all races and sexual orientations have significant client contact.

PAR has previously discussed two best practices that are similar to Fenwick & West's practices. The first is tying compensation to how well partners support a firm's part-time program and advancement of women, and the second is looking at teams that service the firm's clients to make sure that they include attorneys on alternative schedules and women.

Based on comments made by Fenwick & West partner Ralph Pais at a conference last March sponsored by PAR and the Center for WorkLife Law, it appears that the firm is also exploring innovative programs in the work/life balance arena. The firm's website says that the firm offers "flexible work schedules, reduced billable hour requirements, backup childcare, and an on-site lactation room, and it notes that 30% of the firm's executive management committees are female. Several firms have already instituted programs of tying partner compensation to how well they retain women and support work/life programs. Would anyone from Fenwick & West like to tell us if it includes advancement of women and/or support of work/life programs in its partner compensation program?

Hats off to Fenwick & West!

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