Lawyering And Fatherhood: Finding A Balance

Are male lawyers balancing work/life as well as their female counterparts? Signs point to ‘no’.

Private practice law is still very much a male-dominated world. A look at available data from a 2011 NALP study of 317 law offices and law firms that have a tiered partnership and also reported information on equity and non-equity partner counts shows it. In those firms, 84.4% of equity partners were male and 72.3% of non-equity partners were male. Perhaps not surprisingly, male lawyers are primarily working full time in their practice. So how do you approach balancing lawyering and fatherhood?

Another NALP study from 2011 shows that while only 6.2% of lawyers were working part-time, the vast majority of those in part-time practice were women–just over 70%. Within the ranks of women lawyers, 13.4% work part-time, yet only 2.7% of male lawyers work part-time. The study also reported that 98.3 % of law firms allow part-time work. Why aren’t men taking advantage of this option as much as women? Clearly, there is a culture within the legal realm that puts pressures and expectations on male lawyers to be chained to their practice.

A 2007 release of a long term study of lawyers graduating in 2000 also showed that within this group, the male lawyers are not balancing work/life as well as their female counterparts: “Across all settings, and among respondents working full-time, women are working about three hours less per week than men (49 hours for women versus 51.8 for men).” The good news is it’s possible for both dads and moms to spend more time with their families.

A lot of it depends on your ability and determination to manage your practice more efficiently. The same study also showed that 59% of male lawyers in the respondent group are fathers to at least one child. That’s a lot of dad lawyers. But what these lawyers need isn’t necessarily another tie, another pair of socks, or even a big bottle of scotch. They need to find a better way to manage their time, their practice, client demands, and use the extra time to enjoy moments with their families. And not just on this weekend.

A very happy Fathers’ Day from the Clio team to all the legal fathers out there! Make sure you step out of the office, enjoy some time with the family – and save stress by automating your billable work while you do so. 

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