Law firms listen up. A Massachusetts study found that most male lawyers are coupled with women holding little or no household financial responsibility, with less career commitment and with primary family responsibilities. In contrast, female lawyers are more likely to be coupled with men with an equal or greater responsibility for career and income and who do not assume primary caretaking responsibilities. Faced with competing demands from work and family, female lawyers are more likely to leave or seek more flexible work even though more women than men are entering and graduating from law school.
A recent PAR Report also found that in U.S. law offices, more firms are promoting fewer female associates than men which has resulted in new male partners outnumbering females more than two to one this year. The promotion rate of women at the 123 large law firms surveyed fell 2 percentage points this year to 32%. The number of female partners won’t be increased until they stop leaving in droves during the years when they want to start families. This is an especially prevalent issue in law as few other professions feel ‘time pressure’ as acutely as lawyers. Billable hours and daily timesheets are a constant reminder that the business of law is all about time. Now, of course not every aspect of law can be changed but technology has allowed for people not to be chained to desks as much anymore. Firms could make some changes in order to retain top talent.
Law firms may also want to consider this because studies show that flexible work almost alway brings benefits to the business – increased employee commitment and productivity, reductions in staff turnover and training costs and a greater ability to respond to customer requirements are common feedback. One U.S. study estimated the cost of replacing a second year associate to be $200,000.00. Plus, clients will often not use a firm if there is a lack of diversity.
Law firms may want to take a look at some of those flex-hour stat companies if they want to keep the best talent on their payroll.