Monday, December 05, 2011

 

Highlights from PAR’s Flex Success Conversation “Advancing Balanced Hours Lawyers”

PAR’s inaugural Flex Success Conversation last month was full of strategies for organizational change and individual success under balanced hours programs. The program was well-attended by reduced hours lawyers from firms and in-house, as well as law firm and legal department leaders and managers interested in success for lawyers working on flexible schedules. Here are some highlights:

The first panel focused on how to engage clients and law firm leaders in the conversation about success as flexible work attorneys. Emily Yinger, Regional Managing Partner (Hogan Lovells US), Kenneth Grady, General Counsel (Wolverine Worldwide), Kerry Kotouc, General Counsel, Corporate Affairs/Government Relations (Wal-Mart Stores), and Benjamin Wilson, Managing Principal (Beveridge & Diamond) described how they set the tone both in their organizations and as proponent of advancement of women in law firms, how they signal support for balanced hours, and how they have overcome obstacles. Some takeaways:

• Having a strong balanced hours policy is a great start, but it needs to be followed up with strong signs of support and re-assurance from firm leaders and clients.
• In-house lawyers can advocate for their valued outside counsel.
• Clients and law firms lawyers need to communicate about what is important to them and put together agreed-upon metrics to measure success.

The second panel presented strategies for career advancement on balanced hours schedules from successful part-time partners Eve Howard (Hogan Lovells US), Marci Rose Levine (SNR Denton), and Christopher Rhee (Arnold & Porter). Heidi Chen, Assistant General Counsel (Pfizer) rounded out the panel with the client’s perspective. Some takeaways:

• Business is global and virtual, so flexibility is a natural fit in that environment.
• Balanced hours need to be looked at on an annualized basis. Working a reduced schedule requires flexibility on behalf of the firm and the attorney.
• A key to success is to make yourself an indispensible part of the team; when you are involved with firm management, you show your strong firm ties.
• All lawyers need to carve out time for business development, firm duties, and other personal interests.

Before ending the day with a networking reception, U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau Director Sara Manzano-Diaz gave a keynote speech which emphasized that issues of workplace flexibility now have a national platform. She also noted that technology is changing the way we work, enabling flexibility in when, how, and where we work.

Many thanks to Hogan Lovells US LLP for hosting the Flex Success Conversation in its D.C. offices. We appreciate their help in making this inaugural event so successful. PAR Flex Success Conversations will continue with programs in different areas throughout the country. We hope you will join us.

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