Friday I had the distinct pleasure of sharing lunch with Rock Star UC Hastings Professor Joan Williams. I've known Joan since I attended the first Leadership Academy for Women, at Hastings, in the summer of 2007. A co-founder of the Project for Attorney Retention ("PAR"), Joan and her Legal Rebel colleague Cynthia Calvert are leading women lawyers all across the country to more fulfilling careers in private practice.
Just this week they released Reduced Hours, Full Success: Part-Time Partners in U.S. Law Firms. Their key findings challenge conventional wisdom about part-time lawyers:
• Many respondents had significant books of business, and the majority reported spending as much or more time on business development as full-time partners;
• Most respondents generate significant revenue, billing between 1200 and 1600 hours annually and pushing additional work down to associates;
• Many hold leadership positions in their firms, including managing partner, executive committee member, practice group head, and members of high level committees;
• Client service is foremost, with the vast majority of respondents stating that they do whatever is necessary to be responsive and meet deadlines; and
• Clients of part-time partners are generally supportive.
The survey preceded the Great Recession, so I asked Joan whether a follow up survey of these respondents, post recession, was in the works. It's one thing if women make gains in these areas in good times; will the progress be sustainable through the rough economy? According to Joan, they need funding to do any sort of follow up study.
I sure hope they can find financial support to do so.