Selected Findings from the NALP Workplace Questionnaire

NALP Bulletin, September 2004

The NALP Workplace Questionnaire (WQ) is designed to capture information about some of the policies and practices of legal employers that contribute to the quality of life and the atmosphere of the workplace. While some version of the WQ has been in place since 1990, it has not been easy to use WQ data to compare law firm practices across the industry.

Now, for the first time, NALP is making available a complete tabulation of those items on the WQ that are close-ended — that is, items for which a set of response choices was provided. A sampling of these findings, based on the 526 law offices that had completed the WQ online as of mid-June 2004 is presented here. A full reporting is available as a free PDF download.

Some background and methodological notes should be kept in mind when reviewing this information.

  • Although a few schools require completion of the WQ in order to interview on campus, the WQ has been and remains a largely optional informational piece that legal employers can choose to complete and file with schools at which they interview. Employers completing the form tend to be larger firms, often with multiple offices, similar to NALP's law firm membership in general, but only a portion of it.

  • An online version of the WQ first became available in August 2002. The information presented here is based on data entered since that time, not all of which is current as of 2004. Approximately 35% of the offices included in these results entered information prior to 2004. However, it should be noted that information entered prior to 2004 is not necessarily stale, as it may not have changed.

  • The information presented here is based on private law offices only. The findings exclude responses from corporate, government, and public interest organizations. Additionally, some law offices were deleted from the analysis: those whose forms were identified as "collective" (if individual offices had provided information); those that left most of the items blank or did not identify themselves; offices that closed subsequent to posting information (e.g., Brobeck); and the older information if an office was listed twice.

The information presented here provides a useful benchmark against which to compare an individual office's response, as well as an assessment of practices at these firms on a variety of programs and policies. However, whether the information captured on the WQ represents the most meaningful lines of inquiry is a question that can be debated, and one that is currently being weighed by NALP's Recruitment Practices Committee. In addition, while an organization's WQ provides a useful starting point, it cannot adequately capture the many intangibles, unwritten policies, or specifics of written policies that contribute to a workplace environment. Additional research on specific policies and programs of interest is always appropriate.

NALP Workplace Questionnaire Responses to Selected Items
(percentages based on 526 law offices unless otherwise noted)

Yes No Did Not Answer (DNA)
Does your organization have a formal evaluation program in place? 98.1% 1.1% 0.8%

Program described as:

Annual 73.0%

Semi-annual 39.2

Top down 59.2

Bottom up 11.2

Attorney self-evaluation 51.1

Peer review 8.6

Partner review 55.5

360 Degree 5.3

Activities to increase presence and retention of under-represented groups: % Indicating Participation in Activity
Participation in minority job fairs 77.7%
Outreach to law student groups 65.4
Directed mentoring efforts 46.4
Recruitment at schools with large minority enrollment 65.6
Participation in bar-sponsored programs 69.4
Involvement of employer committees 53.2

Yes No DNA
Are same sex domestic partners afforded the same benefits as spouses of attorneys? 67.7% 25.7% 6.7%
Are opposite sex domestic partners afforded the same benefits as spouses of attorneys? 51.0 41.4 7.6

Yes No NA or DNA
Does your organization offer use of a childcare facility? 42.8% 53.4% 3.85
Of those who said yes: (225)
Is facility for emergency use only? 84.9 14.7 0.4
Is facility on-site? 21.8 76.0 2.2

Yes No No One Eligible DNA
In the past 5 years, have attorneys made partner who have worked or are currently working an alternative schedule?* 57.8% 17.0% 18.5% 6.7%

*Figures based on 524 offices offering at least one option: job sharing, telecommuting, flex-time, or part-time work.

Yes No NA or DNA
Is billable hour credit given for pro bono work? 78.9% 12.9% 8.1%
Is there a maximum that will be credited? (based on 415 who give credit) 38.5 48.0 13.5
For bonus consideration, is a pro bono hour equivalent to a billable hour? 62.9 16.0 21.1
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