New Research from the NALP Workplace Questionnaire

NALP Bulletin, February 2004

Tables:
Does your firm have a written parental leave or family care policy?
Does your firm offer a flexible spending account/offer use of a childcare facility?
Are domestic partners afforded the same benefits as spouses of attorneys?
Activities to increase presence and retention of under-represented groups
Does your firm have a written alternative work option policy?
What determines eligibility for alternative work status?
Is there a minimum percentage of full-time hours that a part-time attorney must work? Are attorneys who work part-time and exceed their hours compensated for the additional hours?
Are attorneys who work alternative schedules given bonus consideration?

Comments:
Comments on parental leave policy with respect to adoption
Comments on the general question of family leave which also speak to the issue of adoptive parents
Comments on childcare facilities
Comments on diversity initiatives
Comments on alternative work option policies

This column presents findings compiled for the first time from NALP's online Workplace Questionnaire (WQ). The findings presented here reflect the interest of NALP's Recruitment Practices Committee in making such a compilation available, and the consensus of NALP's Research Advisory Council (RAC) as to which of the many areas covered by the WQ would be of greatest interest to NALP members and their organizations.

The RAC identified three areas of interest: diversity initiatives; parental leave and family care benefits; and alternative work options. Quantitative analyses of these portions of the WQ are presented here, as is commentary provided by some submitting organizations and identified by the RAC as noteworthy and possibly worthy of additional analysis.

The analyses and extracted comments are based on the submissions of 417 law offices/firms completing the online WQ as of the summer of 2003. For the most part, the responses reflect offices of more than 100 attorneys (about 61% of offices/firms represented). Other than some minor changes for clarity, comments (or portions of comments) are replicated verbatim, except that identifying information has been removed.

NALP's RAC urges users of WQ information to view the form as a starting point from which to pursue additional research or questions about specific organizations' programs and policies. The WQ cannot adequately capture the many intangibles, unwritten policies, or specifics of written policies, that contribute to a workplace environment. For example, although nearly all firms reported offering practice group training and an organized mentoring program, one might wish to probe further into the frequency of such training and the specifics of a mentoring program. Likewise, effective recruitment and retention of minorities depends on the views and commitment of an organization's management as much as on specific diversity initiatives listed on the WQ form.

Analysis of additional items from the WQ can be obtained by contacting Judith Collins, NALP's Director of Research, at (202) 835-1001 or jcollins@nalp.org.


NALP Workplace Questionnaire — Response to Selected Items
(Percentages based on 417 firms, unless otherwise noted)

Does your firm have a written parental leave or family care policy?

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Yes No Did Not Answer
Does your firm have a written parental leave or family care policy? 82.5% 15.1% 2.4%
Of those who said yes (343):
Have attorneys made use of policy in last 12 months? 95.0 4.1 0.9
Are attorneys currently using this benefit? 90.1 9.3 0.6
Does the policy include adoptions? 94.2 1.5 4.4
Does the policy cover children/dependents of same sex domestic partners? 75.8 13.4 10.8
Does the policy cover children/dependents of opposite sex domestic partners? 65.6 25.1 9.3

Does your firm offer a flexible spending account/offer use of a childcare facility?


Yes No Did Not Answer
Does your firm offer a flexible spending account for dependent care? 89.9% 6.7% 3.4%
Does your firm offer a flexible spending account for health care? 91.1 6.0 2.8

Does your firm offer use of a childcare facility? 42.4 51.8 5.8
Of those who said yes (177):
Is facility for emergency use only? 91.0 7.9 1.1
Is facility on-site? 18.6 76.8 4.5

Are domestic partners afforded the same benefits as spouses of attorneys?


Yes No Did Not Answer
Same sex domestic partners 68.8% 25.2% 6.0%
Opposite sex domestic partners 50.8 42.2 7.0

Activities to increase presence and retention of under-represented groups:

Participation in minority job fairs 77.9%
Outreach to law school student groups 67.4
Directed mentoring efforts 44.6
Recruitment at schools with large minority enrollment 64.0
Participation in bar-sponsored programs 69.3
Involvement of employer committees 51.3

Does your firm have a written alternative work option policy?

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Yes No Case by Case Did Not Answer
Does your firm have a written alternative work option policy? 72.9% 23.5% 3.6%
Does your firm allow:
Job sharing 1.0 74.8 16.8 7.4
Flex-time 29.7 26.9 36.0 7.4
Telecommuting 32.9 21.1 38.1 7.9
Part-time schedule 72.9 1.4 22.3 3.4

What determines eligibility for alternative work status?
(based on 410 offices/firms that offer at least one of the alternatives)

Case-by-case 98.0%
Minimum time with employer 17.8
Level of legal expertise 7.1

Is there a minimum percentage of full-time hours that a part-time attorney must work? Are attorneys who work part-time and exceed their hours compensated for the additional hours?


Yes No Case by Case Did Not Answer
Is there a minimum percentage of full-time hours that a part-time attorney must work?* 22.7% 18.6% 55.9% 2.8%
Are attorneys who work part-time and exceed their hours compensated for the additional hours?* 59.7 4.5 29.5 6.3
If so, how are they compensated?**
Salary adjustment 32.8
Bonus consideration 61.3
*Figures based on 397 offices/firms which reported offering part-time work.
**Figures based on 354 offices/firms responding "yes" or "case-by-case" to the compensation question.

Are attorneys who work alternative schedules given bonus consideration?
(Each response based on the number of firms/offices shown in parentheses.)


Yes No Case by Case Did Not Answer
Job sharing (74) 18.9% 2.7% 48.6% 29.7%
Flex-time (274) 50.7 3.3 31.0 15.0
Telecommuting (296) 57.9 2.7 25.7 14.5
Part-time schedule (397) 57.4 10.8 25.9 5.8

Comments on parental leave policy with respect to adoption

Employers submitted a wide range of responses, ranging from "unpaid leave only," to "whatever is permitted under the FMLA," to some of the approaches identified below.

  • "Our adoption leave policy offers up to 10 weeks paid leave for the primary caregiver of the adoptive child."

  • "In addition to 8 weeks of paid leave attorneys can take up to 52 weeks of unpaid leave for the birth or adoption of a child."

  • "Adoption benefit available to employees with one year of service. Following the adoption of a child, the firm pays up to $3,500 cash benefit to offset adoption expenses, up to two adoptions per employee."

  • "Adoptive parents may receive 12 weeks of paid leave."

  • "Six weeks parental leave; 8 weeks of paid leave to the primary caregiver. All attorneys may also take regular accrued vacation time or leave without pay in conjunction with this leave. The firm pays up to $5,000 toward the cost of adopting a child."

Comments on the general question of family leave which also speak to the issue of adoptive parents

  • "The firm offers associates an option of working an abbreviated schedule for up to a maximum of two months in addition to any childcare leave. Primary caretakers can choose to work an 80% (four days per week) or 60% (three days per week) schedule during a maximum two-month transition period immediately following their childcare leave but must coordinate the schedule with their Practice Group Leader and Director of Legal Personnel. Salaries and paid time off will be prorated to reflect the part-time arrangement. After the expiration of the two-month period, the associate's full-time status and salary will automatically be restored."

  • "The firm provides three types of parental leaves: (1) Paid Primary Caregiver Parental Leave is available to any associate (male or female) who becomes a parent by birth or adoption and who is the primary caregiver during the leave. This leave is for 8 weeks. (2) If an associate has worked for the firm at least one year, a Paid Child Care Leave of 4 weeks, in addition to any period of Paid Primary Caregiver's Parental Leave, is available following the birth or adoption of a child by the associate or by the spouse or domestic partner of an associate. (3) Any associate may take up to 40 weeks of Unpaid Parental Leave in connection with the birth/adoption of a child. Aggregate leave of 26 weeks or less will not be considered a material interruption of active employment for purposes of evaluating an associate's professional development."

  • "The parental leave policy applies to all who intend to return to work for a minimum of six months after taking parental leave. The policy generally provides up to 12 weeks paid leave at the time of childbirth to lawyers and staff members who are primary caregivers, up to 12 weeks paid leave to the primary caregiver in the event of adoption, and up to two weeks paid leave to a secondary caregiver in the event of childbirth or adoption."

  • "Family care leave is available to an attorney upon the birth of his/her child or upon the placement of a child for adoption or foster care. This kind of family care leave should be taken within one year of the birth or placement of the child. Family care leave is also available to care for a family member with a serious health condition. Family members include an attorney's child, spouse, parent, and a person with whom the attorney maintains a committed relationship."

  • "Parental leave applies not on a male/female basis, rather, the primary caregiver, whether male or female, is afforded the ‘maternity' benefits."

Comments on childcare facilities

  • "Firm provides subsidized in-home emergency backup day care for associate's children, elderly parents, or disabled dependents as needed."

  • "Firm offers in-home sick child care."

  • "The firm offers off-site emergency back-up day care to all employees in most of our U.S. locations through Children First, a nationwide provider of emergency childcare. The firm provides 100% of the cost."

  • "The firm will pay for sick child care in the home if a child cannot go to a normal day care facility."

  • "[One] office offers full-time and back-up child care on-site. The [same] office also offers overflow back-up child care off-site on a space available basis. . . . Back-up care is free up to 15 days per year. [Another] office also has membership with a privately operated and funded child-care center for full-time care."

  • "We offer full-paid access to a hospital-affiliated facility that cares for children over one year who are too ill to return to daycare or school, but well enough to be cared for/supervised by caregivers other than the parent(s)."

Comments on diversity initiatives

  • "The firm established a Minority Scholarship Program in 1998. With this program, scholarships are awarded to first-year law students at eight law schools."

  • "The firm is an active member of . . . a consortium of [area] law firms and government agencies committed to the recruitment and retention of lawyers of color. The group acts as a resource to the member firms through educational programs regarding hiring and retaining lawyers of color."

  • "We have focus groups conducted by outside consulting groups at the associate and summer associate level to explore issues of concern to women and minorities."

  • "A Diversity Committee . . . has developed numerous initiatives. . . . Examples include hosting an annual diversity reception, developing affinity groups in the firm, hosting diversity events during the summer program, increasing the firm's involvement in local mentoring programs for high school students of color."

  • "In October 2000, the firm created its Women's Career Development Council (WCDC). This group of partners and associates, both male and female, was charged with addressing specific issues women face. . . . To support the goals of the Women's Initiative, the firm engaged a nationally known, New York-based nonprofit research and advisory organization that works to advance women in business and professions. To provide further guidance and feedback and to ensure accountability, the WCDC formed an advisory board to oversee the Women's Initiative and to assist in developing specific programs. Composed of community leaders and clients with an interest in encouraging the career development and retention of women professionals, the Advisory Board meets periodically with the WCDC and reports its observations and recommendations directly to the firm's Management Committee. . . . Since that time, [another consultant] has worked with the Diversity Task Force in assessing where we are on these important issues and in developing recommendations and specific initiatives to move us forward. [The consultant] has led a retreat for the Task Force, has held focus groups with lawyers in all of our offices, has conducted follow-up interviews, has worked with our Employment Committee, and has addressed our partners about these issues."

  • "The firm is currently undergoing an extensive Cultural & Diversity Assessment, the first of its kind for law firms, which will help us understand and address our weaknesses in recruiting and retention of under- represented groups."

Comments on alternative work option policies

  • "All attorneys are eligible to apply for part-time status. Associates working part-time arrangements are eligible for partnership consideration. All attorneys working part-time . . . can be considered for management positions. . . . There is no minimum term of employment required prior to requesting a part-time arrangement. Attorneys may be hired by the firm on a part-time basis. However . . . except in special circumstances, time commitments of less than 50% are not favored . . . requests for part-time status by a first-year associate are likely to be granted only in extraordinary circumstances. . . . A partner [shall be appointed] to serve as the Part-Time Coordinator, who shall work with each attorney seeking approval for a reduced time commitment status or who wishes to remain on that status. . . . Consideration may also be given to reduction of overhead costs in order to increase profitability by, for example, office sharing, moving to an interior office, electing out of medical benefits, etc. . . . Part-time attorneys will be considered for salary adjustments on the same basis as full-time attorneys and on the same schedule. . . . Advancement in associate class (and consideration for increased benchmark salary) will normally occur at the reduced percentage rate, but the [appropriate associate class will be determined] based on the same criteria used for full-time associates, including the hourly rate commanded by the associate. . . . Performance of each part-time associate [will be reviewed annually] in the same manner and based upon the same criteria as full-time associates, taking into account the applicable reduced performance expectancy. No associate shall be disqualified from consideration from partnership because such associate has worked or continues to work part-time. However, it is anticipated that partnership consideration will be proportionally delayed as a result of such part-time commitment."

  • "There is no minimum hours requirement for part-time work. There is a 1,000 hour requirement for flex-time status, which grants 50% credit toward partnership."

  • "Related to their professional work, there is no minimum number of hours of work needed, but to be eligible for firm insurance benefits an attorney must work 24 hours per week."

  • "Part-time associates should generally expect to develop a flexible schedule that allows the associate to handle "mainstream" assignments within his or her practice area. Part-time associates may establish a ‘target' schedule that generally allows them to be away from the office on certain days of the week, but must have sufficient flexibility to be available, as needed, to respond to unpredictable client needs. In most cases, part-time associates will be expected to work at least 60% of the average number of hours worked by full- time associates. Each part-time associate's schedule will be worked out on an individual basis."

  • "Attorneys Mothers Group— an informal support group for lawyers who are mothers of babies and young children. The group meets monthly for lunch and interacts on a much more frequent basis to share information and advice, and to support efforts to balance work and family. We also provide support to parents through our on-site emergency child care center and to nursing mothers through our lactation room."

  • "Reduced Hour Policy — The Reduced Hour Arrangements policy has two levels. The reduced hour arrangement is for lawyers who commit at least 1,200 billable hours with a commensurate commitment to non-billable work. The project lawyer arrangement is for those who commit to work less than 1,200 billable hours."

  • "The firm provides on-line education materials regarding child care, parenting, elder care, and life balance services, child/elder care referral services, and personal assistance programs. The Director of Associate Relations, Career Choice Placement Committee, and the Outplacement Committee assist associates in making satisfying job choices, whether they choose to pursue their careers with the firm or seek opportunities outside the firm."

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