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Monitoring Assignment Disparity in Attorney Flextime Arrangements

The Project for Attorney Retention continues to add to its list of attorney retention best practices. An earliest post on PAR's "best practices" list discussed the benefits of attorney job sharing arrangements. More recently, PAR has recommended that firms offering flextime arrangements monitor the quality of assignments being given to part-time attorneys.  PAR shares stories of part-time attorneys being passed over for "plum" assignments, being relegated to tedious document reviews, and being shifted to assignments involving extensive rote work. Such disparity in the quality of work assignments causes frustration, unhappiness and a sense of second-class citizenship among reduced-hours attorneys, and thus seriously undermines the effectiveness of a flextime program as an attorney retention and recruiting tool.

The reasons for the disparity in the quality of work assignments between full time and part-time attorneys varies. Sometimes it's an innocent assumption by partners who believe that part-time attorneys don't want assignments that may, for example, involve tight deadlines, while on other occasions there's a deliberate effort by certain attorneys to make reduced hours arrangements unpalatable.

PAR offers several tips to determine whether work assignment disparity is a problem, and if so, what to do about it. These include checking billing records for the past couple of years to see if the same type of attorneys are always getting the best assignments.

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