Say the word “flextime” and most people think of reduced hours for working mothers. But a small, yet growing number of male lawyers are using lighter job schedules to strike the right work-life balance.
More law firms in recent years have incorporated flextime policies—especially reduced-hour schedules—to help with attorney retention. And women, more than men, have used the policies to balance their jobs with raising kids.
But more widespread adoption by male attorneys of the benefit is expected to lift all boats—helping women lawyers juggle demands and attracting millennial attorneys less interested in working a constant grind.
The legal profession’s own #MeToo movement is playing out on Twitter.
Under the hashtag #LadyLawyerDiaries, the discussion over the last year has evolved to tackle serious and pervasive issues surrounding women in the law. It’s become a movement that enables female attorneys to speak out collectively about gender bias and sexual harassment in the legal profession.
We talked with Greenberg Traurig partner Kendyl Hanks of Austin, one woman—along with Goodwin associate Jaime Santos of Washington, D.C.—among a core group of about 15 female attorneys who have joined forces to tweet as one under the @LadyLawyerDiaryhandle. The group ranges in age from 20 to 40, coming from diverse legal backgrounds—law clerks, court staff attorneys, law firm associates and partners, law professors, in-house counsel.
In light of a recent study showing female lawyers aren’t getting many speaking roles in the courtroom, one federal judge in Texas noted that she’s indirectly increased opportunities for women attorneys by encouraging firms to send young lawyers to argue at hearings.
While trying to provide courtroom experience to young lawyers in the age of the vanishing jury trial, Chief Judge Barbara Lynn of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas created a voluntary rule in her court about 10 years ago that said if firms sent young attorneys to argue their own briefs and motions at hearings, she would be more likely to grant an oral argument. Even though her main goal was training the lawyers of the future, many of those getting opportunities are women and minorities—something she hoped would happen. Those opportunities have been amplified as 20 to 30 other federal judges have followed Lynn’s lead and created young lawyer rules of their own.