By Anna Louie Sussman
Feb 21 (Reuters) - The percentage of lawyers working
part-time remained steady in 2012, with the majority of them
still women, a survey released Thursday showed.
Only 6.2 percent of lawyers worked part-time in 2012,
according to a survey by the National Association for Legal
Career Professionals, which analyzed employer information from
over 1,100 law offices. That was the same rate as 2011, said the
industry group. Of the lawyers who worked part-time, over 70
percent were women.
In comparison, 5.3 percent of architects and engineers work
part-time, 29 percent of whom are women; and 19.6 percent of
health care practitioners work part-time, 87.2 percent of them
women, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
James Leipold, NALP's executive director, said that while
almost all law firms had part-time options in place, firm
culture discouraged lawyers from exercising that option. Unless
firms took steps to remove the stigma from going part-time,
women and men who choose that kind of work will face adverse
career consequences, he said.
"Firms need to have both women and men at a high level
position who are themselves using a part-time schedule so it's
modeled as okay," he said.
Amongst all female lawyers, 13.5 percent worked part-time,
versus 2.7 percent of male lawyers. Around a tenth of female
associates worked part-time, and 11.7 percent of female
partners, according to the survey.
Beth Kaufman, president of the National Association of
Women Lawyers and a litigator at Schoeman Updike Kaufman Stern &
Ascher in New York, said she would prefer firms offer flextime
instead of part-time options since flextime permits women in
litigation or transactional practices to continue their work,
which may not fit into strict part-time schedules.
"I think if a woman is given the opportunity to work on a
flextime basis, she is more likely to achieve partnership
status. She is not necessarily producing fewer hours; she may be
working from home, on weekends, late at night. She may well be
producing a lot more revenue that way," Kaufman said.
Since 2006, the National Association of Women Lawyers has
conducted a yearly survey on the retention and promotion of
women at AmLaw 200 firms. Its most recent report said women have
made little progress reaching leadership roles at big law firms,
finding that barely 15 percent of a typical AmLaw 100 firm's
equity partners are women.
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