April 01, 2005
Law firms with part-time partners or with formal policies enabling this work style deserve a round of applause. Part-time partnership track is an embryonic and revolutionary concept with sparse precedent. Most law firms will require time to make it work for their infrastructures, associates and most importantly, for their clients.
Torys and Alison Bauer have overcome the logistical challenges and made her part-time track a success story. Alison had originally negotiated her part-time associate status in Torys’ Restructuring and Insolvency Group when the department of her former firm went to Torys. At the time, she was pregnant, and had requested that she remain on the partnership track—albeit on a delayed schedule. She was recently named partner.
Alison has a few suggestions for associates considering a similar journey. Most importantly, she says, is to identify the right person to initiate your discussions, whether or not the firm has a stated part-time policy. Don’t seek out the partner who works 24/7 with little balance between work and home, but do seek someone who values your work and is highly confident that you are an asset to the firm’s agenda. Secondly, be sensitive to the firm’s needs. Set realistic goals, remain flexible and emphasize that your reduced schedule does not translate into a reduced commitment to the firm. Lastly, be accessible to your clients. Resist the temptation to substitute personal contact with electronic communication when you may be unavailable. Instead, develop delegation skills and accept that there will be occasions when you’ll need to be available during your scheduled time off.