Tuesday, February 21, 2012


PAR Annual Conference to Focus on Creating a More Inclusive Culture

PAR’s annual conference, Beyond “Part-Time”: Creative a Culture of Inclusion is coming up next month with an outstanding line up of conference topics and speakers. On March 14 at the offices of Crowell & Moring in Washington DC, leaders in law firms and legal departments will come together for a lively discussion on topics including:

1. Paths to Power: law firm managing partners will discuss the role of sponsorship and other means to support women in their rise to power in law firms.
2. WorkLife Issues In House: PAR will be releasing a brand new study of work/life balance for in-house lawyers at the conference. Legal department leaders will be reflecting on the study’s findings and talking about their support of lawyers -- both those inside their own departments and their outside counsel – in meeting both their professional and personal obligations.
3. Innovate Ways to Implement Flexibility: Five law firms will discuss how they’ve moved beyond traditional part-time programs to have a broader array of programs and shifted their firms’ cultures.
4. An Open Conversation with General Counsel: General Counsel will engage with the audience to discuss their role in helping change the culture of firms.
5. Verna Myers will end the day with a keynote addressing how flexibility can help foster a culture of inclusion.

Another highlight of the day will be the presenting of PAR’s Flex Success Award to two law firm partners in PAR member firms successfully working reduced hours schedules and their clients who contributed to the success of the arrangements.

The PAR conference provides a great opportunity to get up-to-date on the most relevant topics in the retention and advancement of women lawyers and work/life balance for all. In addition, participants will network with other attorneys working on these issues in their organizations. The conference is open for registration.

Monday, January 09, 2012


Member Best Practice: O’Melveny & Myers Supports the Back-to-Work Transition

Firms are finding that offering on-ramping programs to help smooth the transition back to work from leave are being met with positive feedback and are having strong retention benefits as well. PAR has collected best practices in the area of on-ramping.

Firms are getting creative with their on-ramping offerings. (See our blog on On-Ramping Options). PAR Member O’Melveny & Myers launched its unique Momentum One program last year. Momentum One offers new parents one-on-one videoconference coaching sessions with licensed clinical social workers who are “transition specialists.”

Rochelle Karr, the firm’s Director of Attorney Professional Development & Alumni Relations, piloted the program along with an attorney in the firm. Both found the program valuable because of its focus on the challenges of parenting and practical advice.

Karr noted that the Momentum One program has been a great fit with the firm culture and their maternity leave and on-ramping offerings already in place. Karr noted that “We give [our attorneys] 18 weeks of paid leave; it would not make any business sense whatsoever to then say, ‘Come on back, and hope it all goes well. And here’s a bunch of work assignments, and good luck.’ Why not just ease that for them a little bit and nurture our investment?” Proactively giving their attorneys tools to solve their parenting dilemmas with a trained professional helps the attorneys find solutions that may seem insurmountable while trying to meet professional obligations. The firm has received positive feedback on the program and is pleased with its success thus far.

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.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


The Diversity & Flexibility Connection in Action: Walmart Legal Department Shows Support for Flexible Work

The Walmart Legal Department has been a vocal and active participant in PAR’s Diversity & Flexibility Connection, committing to referring work to balanced hours lawyers, signaling support for flexible work, and effective implementation of their own commitment to diversity and flexibility.

At last month’s Walmart Legal SuperConference, over 1000 of Walmart’s outside lawyers came to Bentonville to participate in two days of programming, the majority of which centered around diversity, inclusion, and flexible work. Walmart highlighted its Diversity Partners, including PAR, and gave participants concrete information and suggestions for making a more inclusive legal profession. PAR Executive Director Manar Morales spoke during both the plenary diversity and inclusion panel and a breakout session on work/life balance and flex time.

Walmart highlighted its commitment to flexible work by recognizing Marci Rose Levine, the practice leader of PAR Member SNR Denton’s health care team, for Excellent Performance and Commitment to Work-Life Balance. Marci has worked a balanced hours schedule for eight years, both as an associate and now as a partner. Marci provides outstanding legal service to Walmart’s Health & Wellness team while also holding a leadership position in her firm. Walmart’s public acknowledgment of how well a balanced hours arrangement works for them is commendable. Marci will be one of our panelists at our upcoming PAR Flex Success Conversation: Advancing Balanced Hours Lawyers (on November 9th in Washington DC).

In addition, Walmart honored Littler Mendelson, also a PAR member, for looking at different ways to approach flexibility as a firm with its recognition for its Innovation in Promoting Work-Life Balance.

By looking internally, partnering with diversity organizations, and providing their outside counsel with expectations and tools for inclusion, Walmart Legal is expanding the conversation and helping ensure progress.

Friday, August 12, 2011


Highlights from the Hastings Leadership Academy for Women

At last month’s Hastings Leadership Academy for Women (LAW), twenty-one women partners from firms across the country spent three and a half focused days on building their leadership skills with business-based curriculum and practical skills practice. Here are some highlights:

Ida Abbott, Co-Director of LAW, led off the program with a discussion of women’s leadership roles and paths for getting there. Ida set a framework for different ways people approach their career planning: setting goals, setting direction, and having a general sense of what’s important to them.

An especially lively discussion centered around social networks. Professor Joan C. Williams, Co-Director of LAW, led a program which reviewed the social science research on networks. Joan explained the differences between “clique networks,” that is, networks that are closed and where everyone knows each other, and “entrepreneurial networks” where one person can serve as a connector of otherwise unconnected networks. Participants learned about the value of both strong ties and breaking into new circles and talked about ways to cement weak ties.

This conversation tied in well with the program “ Bringin’ in the Rain: Effective Business Development” with Sara Holtz. Sara focused on developing the marketing mindset and having consistent follow up with a short list of high potential business prospects.

Carol Frohlinger worked with the participants to negotiate for themselves in her workshop “Claiming Your Place at the Table.” She laid out a negotiation framework and highlighted strategic moves, helping the partners to approach self-advocacy with the same skills and confidence that they use for their clients. With the information from the PAR/MCCA study on compensation systems, this conversation led to much discussion on how to negotiate for fair compensation.

A keynote speech from Mary Cranston was the highlight of the day where LAW alumnae and in-house counsel also attended. Mary spoke honestly about her vision, facing fears, and setting goals (without judgment as to the outcome) as keys to her career success. It was truly an inspirational talk.

The Leadership Academy will take place again July 11-14, 2012 in San Francisco, with a special day of programming for alumnae and in-house counsel on July 13th. More information will be posted at www.attorneyretention.org/LAW.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011


Telecommuting Successes: Lessons from Legal Departments

By including telecommuting as part of a flexible work program, legal employers can reduce the stigma often associated with utilizing flexible work arrangements by offering an option that is widely utilized by male and female employees, parents and non-parents alike. PAR member Accenture, which has offered telecommuting for more than ten years, reaps the benefit of including so many male employees in their flexible work arrangements program through telecommuting. Similarly, PAR member Allstate’s legal department has found that the company’s work-at-home option is the most popular flexible work option with men.

Best practice telecommuting programs are:

• Available to all employees who can conceivably work remotely (reduces backlash and stigma).
• Define “core hours” when the telecommuter is to be available.
• Provide training for supervisors.
• Provide technology and support.
• Ensure compliance with employment laws.

PAR member policies (both law firms and legal departments) highlight the importance of these best practices:

• Offer the same compensation, benefits, and promotion opportunities to telecommuters as to those not telecommuting.
• Establish a consistent schedule.
• Ensure effective accessibility.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Promotion of Women Lawyers Stalls

33% of New U.S. Partners are Female, Compared to 34% in 2010

There is not a lot to celebrate when it comes to the gender composition of the new partner classes. According to an updated survey of the new partner class of 2011 released by the Project for Attorney Retention (PAR) on June 14, 2011, law firms slid one percentage point in promotions of women attorneys in U.S. offices since last year, nearly 33% compared to 34% in 2010.

There were some bright spots. Of the 123 firms surveyed in 2011, 22 had new partner classes that were composed of at least 50% women.

Kudos to the firms with the greatest proportion of women in their new partner class of 2011:
• Zuckerman Spaeder promoted only one attorney, a female (1 promotion; 100% female)
• Beveridge & Diamond (6 promotions; 83% female)
• WilmerHale (10 promotions; 80% female)
• Thompson Hine (7 promotions; 71% female)
• Manatt, Phelps & Phillips (13 promotions; 69% female)
• Baker & Daniels (6 promotions; 67% female)
• Arnold & Porter (3 promotions; 67% female)
• Munger, Tolles & Olson (3 promotions; 67% female)
• Steptoe & Johnson (3 promotions; 67% female)
• Foley Hoag (5 promotions; 60% female)
• Husch Blackwell (5 promotions; 60% female)
• Seyfarth Shaw (14 promotions; 57% female)
• Littler Mendelson (14 promotions; 57% female)

Raised eyebrows to the firms that elected more than one attorney to the partnership, but included no women in their new partner class of 2011:
• Hunton & Williams (6 promotions; 0 female)
• Proskauer Rose (6 promotions; 0 female)
• Sheppard Mullin (6 promotions; 0 female)
• Boies, Schiller & Flexner (3 promotions; 0 female)
• Cadwalader (3 promotions; 0 female)
• Lowenstein Sandler (3 promotions; 0 female)
• Dickstein Shapiro (2 promotions; 0 female)
• Kaye Scholer (2 promotions; 0 female)
• Milbank (2 promotions; 0 female)

The complete list of firms surveyed and the numbers of men and women in their 2011 new partner class is available on PAR's web site.

Firms were chosen for this study based on inclusion in prior years’ surveys, firm size, and availability of information. As in prior years, information is included only for the firms’ U.S. offices.

“While the decrease in the percentage of women promoted to partner in 2011 is small, it has to be viewed in context,” said PAR Executive Director Manar Morales. “There are few female partners to begin with, and even fewer female equity partners. This dip should cause concern because it further delays the day when women lawyers will achieve parity in the profession.”

In 2010, NAWL reported that while women comprise about 60% of staff attorneys, only 15% of equity partners are women. This is not good news for firms. As a recent MCCA study found, law firms with proportionate representation of women from staff attorneys through equity partner levels outperformed disproportionate firms by $20 million.

Several of the firms that had new partner classes that were greater than 50% female are members of the Project for Attorney Retention: Arnold & Porter (promoted 2 women of 3 new partners), Beveridge & Diamond (5/6), Manatt, Phelps & Phillips (9/13), Munger, Tolles & Olson (2/3), and Seyfarth Shaw (8/14). Furthermore, although PAR did not systematically collect data on the numbers of part-time attorneys promoted to partner, PAR acknowledges and commends PAR Members Andrews Kurth, Beveridge & Diamond, and Fulbright & Jaworski for promoting part-time attorneys into their new partner class of 2011. Their PAR membership and numbers of women promoted in their new partner classes reflect these firms’ strong commitment to diversity and the advancement of women lawyers. Special congratulations are extended to other firms whose 2011 new partner cohort also include part-time partners.

A look back at 2010:

It should be noted that among those firms who promoted not a single woman to partner, some have been notably more successful in advancing women attorneys in the past. Last year, Proskauer Rose had a new partner class that included 67% women and PAR Member Dickstein Shapiro’s 2010 class had 40% women.

For many of the firms with new partner classes that included greater proportions of women, the numbers reflect a continued pattern of consistently high numbers of promotions of women attorneys, as shown in the table below.

Congratulations to all the new partners of 2011.

PAR wishes to thank Allison Tait for invaluable research assistance with this survey.

See the chart here.

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