Easier to work part-time in Bay Area

California attorneys looking for part-time employment appear to have a better chance in San Francisco than in Los Angeles, according to a recent study conducted by the National Association for Law Placement in Washington, D.C.

In its nationwide survey, the NALP found that most large law firms made part-time schedules available to their experienced attorneys, yet very few took advantage of the option in 1995.

Of the five major cities examined in the study, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, San Franciso and Washington D.C., part-time schedules were available the least and used the least often in Los Angeles and Chicago.

San Franciso had the highest frequency of part-time lawyers - 4.8 percent - with part-timers nearly twice as common than among law offices in general.

Among the San Francisco partnership ranks, part-time attorneys were well over three times as frequent as the national average of 1.3 percent, while 6 percent of associates worked part time.

Only 2 percent of attorneys in Los Angeles were working part time, with 1.8 percent of partners and 2.6 percent of associates employed as part-timers.

Nationally, an entry level attorney's chances of finding part-time work were somewhat higher in firms of 100 attorneys or less, 42.6 percent of whom allowed part-time schedules for recent graduates.

Almost 45 percent of the surveyed law offices in Washington, D.C., and one-third of the offices in San Francisco and Chicago offered part-time alternatives to associates.

The NALP study noted that the percentage of part-time attorneys differs vastly from the national average of part-time workers across the country.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 14 percent of those employed in professional specialities during 1994 were working part time, compared to a 2.6 percentage of part-timers in large law firms.

In addition to the states represented by the five major cities, 12 more states were examined. Among these states, part-time work was most available in Michigan, with Massachusetts, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington also offering a part time work option.

Attorneys in Michigan were most likely to exercise the part-time option and more than five times as likely to do so than their counterparts in Texas.

In keeping with national trends, the frequency of part-time work in these states was greater for associates than partners. However, in some states the differences were especially pronounced. For example, in New Jersey and Georgia, more than 5 percent of associates worked part-time compared to less than 1 percent of partners.

Data from the NALP study indicates that the relatively low percentage of part-time attorneys during 1995 is not an indication that the option is not available, but rather that many other factors come into the picture.

Law firm cultures, concerns about the effects of part-time work on a career path, as well as the personal desires and personalities of attorneys were seen to be major determining factors.