ATLANTA (March 6, 2008) – LawFuel.com – The Georgia Association for Women Lawyers (“GAWL”) released its report entitled, IT’S ABOUT TIME II: Examining Flexible Work Arrangements from the Attorney’s and the Firm’s Perspectives–A Study of Part-time Policies in Georgia Law Firms.
The report, which analyzes the ubiquitous challenge of work-life balance facing attorneys, concludes that flexible work arrangements are crucial to recruit and retain women lawyers, and mitigate financial risk for employers. For such arrangements to work, both law firms and lawyers must understand the perils of maintaining the status quo, as well as the benefits of implementing flexible employment policies. It’s About Time II presents fair and practical solutions for lawyers and law firms seeking to implement alternative work arrangements.
Due to accelerating attrition rates among women lawyers, law firms currently face challenges associated with employee diversity, increasing firm costs and client relationships. Women represent nearly one-half of U.S. law school graduates, but only 17% of partners in law firms. Such loss of female associates may interrupt client-firm relationships, negatively impact fees, and increase firm operating expenses. A law firm will spend an estimated $280,000 to $500,000 to replace a second year associate. While the costs alone are staggering, maintaining a diverse workforce is important for law firms wishing to promote themselves and benefit from a heterogeneous work environment. These factors highlight the business imperative for employers to implement retention policies and procedures.
In the Study, more than 60% of female attorneys leaving law firms cited the desire for a different schedule or professional dissatisfaction as their reason. GAWL’s survey results from 84 Georgia law firms show that lawyers’ attitudes about part-time and flexible work schedules have progressed. Over 93% of all respondents look favorably on employers that allow part-time or flexible work arrangements while 86% of women attorneys are interested in part time or flexible work arrangements.
While perceptions are shifting as attrition increases, employers have been slow to adapt. Both men and women lawyers believe working part-time or on a flexible schedule is career limiting; this dichotomy may be explained by firms’ underwhelming strides to implement policies supporting flexible work arrangements. More than half of the firms surveyed have never employed a part-time attorney. Greater than 60% of law firms have no formal written part-time policy.
The It’s About Time II study is available at www.gawl.org. Contact Alicia Grahn Jones at 404-815-6164 for additional information.
GAWL, established in 1928, has over 1,000 members. GAWL strives to advance the welfare and development of women lawyers and support their interests.