LawFuel.com – For Legal Jobs – See Legal Jobs Most large law firms have made part-time schedules available to their experienced lawyers for many years, but overall the number of lawyers working part-time continues to be very small. In 2009, just 5.9% of lawyers were working part-time and most of them, about 73%, were women. This reflects the fact that women are much more likely to be working part-time than men. Among women lawyers overall, 13% work part-time; among female partners, 12.1% are working part-time; and among women associates the figure was 9.8%. This contrasts with a rate of just 2.4% among all male lawyers. These are among the findings of the most recent analyses of the NALP Directory of Legal Employers, the annual compendium of employer information published by NALP. The 2009-2010 Directory comprises listings from primarily large law firms and includes part-time use information for 1,475 individual law offices and firms and over 140,000 lawyers.
In 2009, nearly all offices, 98%, allowed part-time schedules, either as an affirmative policy or on a case-by-case basis, but as has been the case since NALP first compiled this information in 1994, very few lawyers are working on a part-time basis, even though the percentage of offices allowing part-time schedules has increased from 86% fifteen years ago. In 1994, just 2.4% of partners and associates were working part-time. By 2009, the number of lawyers working part-time has crept up to 5.9%. Likewise, although associates continue to be more likely to be working part-time than partners, part-time work among associates has increased only incrementally, from 4.0% in 1994 to 5.0% in 2009. The growth rate of part-time work among partners has been greater, rising from 1.2% in 1994 to 3.5% in 2009. Other lawyers, such as of counsel and staff attorneys, show the highest rate of part-time work, almost 21%, compared with about 17% in 2006, the first year with comparable information. In 2009, nearly all associates working part-time (89.6%) are women; among partners working part-time, 66.1% are women. (See Table 1.)
NALP’s most recent data also reveal that part-time use varies a great deal by geographic location. The three largest markets — Chicago, New York City, and Washington, DC — account for one-third of the lawyers reflected in the Directory, and show a sharp dichotomy with respect to part-time lawyers. Part-time partners are more than twice as common in Chicago and Washington, DC (at 4% and 4.8%, respectively) than in New York City (at 1.9%) — as are women partners working part-time (about 16% in Chicago and DC versus fewer than 8% in New York City). Part-time associates are also more common in Chicago (5.4%) and Washington, DC (6.3%) compared with New York City (3.8%). The percentage of women associates working part-time in Chicago and Washington, DC is 11-12%, compared with 7.8% in New York City.
Looking at all cities, the presence of part-time partners varies even more. (See Table 2.) For example, part-time partners are most common in Minneapolis, Seattle, San Diego, and San Francisco, with 6-8% of partners in those cities working part-time. Part-time women partners are most common in Boston, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, and Seattle. But in a number of cities, far fewer than 2% of partners are working part-time, and in seven cities no male partners at all were reported as working part-time.
Cities also vary with respect to part-time associates, from less than 2% in New Orleans and Las Vegas, to between 8% and 10% in Indianapolis, Portland, and Richmond. (See Table 3.) No male associates were reported as working part-time in a number of cities: Birmingham, Columbus, Ft. Lauderdale/W. Palm Beach, Hartford, New Orleans, Las Vegas, St. Louis, and Wilmington, DE. The highest percentages of women associates working part-time were reported in Richmond (20.7%), Indianapolis (17.4%), and Milwaukee (15.1%).
Nine states, or portions of states not covered by the cities above, had sufficient information for a parallel analysis. Following the national patterns, all had higher percentages of part-time associates than part-time partners. The percentage of partners working part-time was highest in New York state at 5.5% in an analysis that excluded New York City, as was the percentage of women partners working part-time (15.1%). Connecticut (excluding Hartford) had the highest percentage of part-time associates at 9.8%, while the percentage of women associates working part-time was highest in Pennsylvania (excluding Philadelphia and Pittsburgh) at 16.9% and in Connecticut (excluding Hartford) at 16.7%.
Entry-level lawyers in search of part-time schedules found their options more limited. Nationally, 53% of offices that offered a part-time option precluded entry-level associates from using that arrangement, and not quite 12% had an affirmative part-time policy that made the option available to all lawyers. Nonetheless, an entry-level lawyer’s chances of finding part-time work were somewhat higher in Cincinnati, Grand Rapids, Hartford, Minneapolis, and San Diego. The cities least likely to offer a part-time option to entry-level lawyers were Baltimore, Las Vegas, Milwaukee, and New Orleans.
Part-Time Lawyer Ratios Differ from the Workforce at Large
Interestingly, the lack of part-time lawyers at law firms distinguishes private law firm practice from both the U.S. workforce as a whole and from more defined segments of the workforce. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), not quite 14% of employed individuals during 2008 usually worked part-time, as did a similar percentage of those employed in professional specialties (e.g., engineers, architects, physicians). These rates contrast markedly with the 5.8% rate among lawyers at major law firms.
For Tables 1-4 see the full PDF of this press release at