Part-time work declined for first time in 17 years

By Hillary Mantis

The number of lawyers working part-time decreased slightly in 2011, for the first time in 17 years, according to a just released survey from The National Association for Law Placement.) The survey also revealed that a whopping 70 percent of lawyers working part-time are women.

Just 6.2 percent of lawyers were working part-time in 2011, down slightly from 6.4 percent in 2010, according to NALP’s analysis of their 2011-12 Directory of Legal Employers, which surveyed 1,269 individual law firms.

“I think the numbers dropped because of the recession, not anything specific to the legal industry,” said NALP Executive Director James Leipold. “The drop was parallel to similar drops for other industries."

What appears to be more specific to the legal field, is the very small percentage of lawyers working part-time compared to professionals in other fields. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 13.2 percent of those employed in professional specialties (e.g. engineers, architects, physicians) were working part-time in 2010, and almost 13.6 percent in all fields worked part-time, according to the BLS statistics quoted in NALP’s press release.

Ninety-eight percent of the law firm offices surveyed by NALP allowed for some type of part-time schedule, yet “very few lawyers are working on a part-time basis,” according to NALP.

“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,” the survey concluded.

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