Tuesday, September 30, 2008

 

Number of Men Working Part-Time Is Rising

Denise Howell writes today for the American Lawyer that lawyer dads who work part-time are rare. (Part-Time Lawyer Dads Are Still a Rare Bird) She notes that men want work/life balance, but that men are not willing to sacrifice advancement for that balance. And she calls out -- very appropriately -- several firms that clearly make part-time a women-only option by structuring part-time programs as retention tools for women.

But the news may not be quite so bleak for men. PAR has been tallying the number of men working part-time at law firms for the past seven years, and there has been a definite increase. PAR's website feature, The Scoop, shows a number of firms that have part-time men. At some firms, nearly half of the part-timers are male -- perhaps not all are dads, and perhaps some are working part-time as they near retirement, but their numbers both show and contribute to a change in law firm culture. Here are some firms that are doing well in terms of the number of part-time males: Alston Bird, Arent Fox, Baker and Daniels, Beveridge & Diamond, Bingham, Crowell, DLA Piper, Farella, Fenwick, Finnegan, Fulbright, Haynes and Boone, Holland and Knight, Kilpatrick Stockton, Morrison and Foerster, Pillsbury Winthrop, Quinn Emanuel, Schiff Hardin, Sonnenschein, Squire Sanders, Wiley Rein, and Womble.

Further evidence: When PAR did its first study of part-time lawyers in 2000, we had a hard time finding men to interview. Now we are in the midst of a study of part-time partners, and the part-time dad partners are lining up to be interviewed.

Why the big emphasis on the number of male part-time lawyers? Two reasons: first, PAR has identified the number of males working part-time as a key indicator of the health of a firm's part-time program. If males at your firm are afraid to reduce their hours, then your firm's part-time program is too stigmatized to be an effective recruiting and retention tool for any lawyers. Second, it is very important for males to be able to have work/life balance, as PAR has been advising for years through its principle of "universal application" for part-time programs. It is important for their mental health, for their families' lives, and for eventual gender equality.

Comments:
What about part-time lawyer positions with the federal government? Aside from new fathers, aging baby boomers may wish to transition to retirement by going part-time at first to explore their options - or just to have more balance in their lives.
 

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