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NALP National Study: How Legal Employers Assist Lawyers in Dealing with Work-Life Conflict

To help law firms address the work-life conflicts of their attorneys, the NALP Foundation conducted a study designed to gauge the nature and extent of work-life conflicts lawyers encounter, and to identify initiatives undertaken by law firms to deal with work-life issues. The results of the study and recommendations are now available in the new NALP Foundation report, In Pursuit of Attorney Work-Life Balance: Best Practices in Management.

Some interesting findings:

  • The largest percentage of attorneys working more than 70 hours per week were law firm managers, followed by law firm supervised attorneys. Seems making partner doesn't necessarily into fewer hours anymore.
  • The mean hours billed by respondents practicing in firms with over 300 attorneys was 2,060, compared to a mean of 1,886 for firms with 10-49 attorneys.
  • Approximately 83% of supervised firm attorneys and 67% of firm managing attorneys reported that associates' bonuses are "largely based on billable hour production." The problem here is that using billable hours as a benchmark for bonuses encourages billing, not results.
  • The number of uninterrupted vacation days ranged from 8.6 days for supervised firm attorneys to a mean of 13.6 days for supervised government attorneys. The study notes that this statistic appears to be a by-product of the proliferation of mobile devices. Indeed, while some respondents recognized the freedom and flexibility provided by electronic tools that free lawyers to work outside the office, others perceived technology as an electronic leash that tethers them to their work -- they stated that new technologies coupled with increased client and supervising attorney demands, contributes to attorneys feeling like they are working on a 24/7 hour basis —never psychologically free of work concerns.
  • 75% of supervised attorney respondents reported having moderate to major problems in meeting their personal/health needs while more than 70% of supervised attorneys reported having moderate to major problems in handling family/parental needs, household responsibilities, and finding time for cultural/leisure activities.

View a summary of the NALP study here (PDF).

Buy a complete copy of the NALP study here.

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