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More Flex Options for BigLaw Women to Make Partner

Posted Jan 17, 2008 5:28 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Increasingly, BigLaw firms reportedly are offering a variety of flexible options to allow women lawyers to make special arrangements they may need during early child-rearing years, yet still stay on a pathway to partnership.

For Gabrielle Higgins, for instance, that meant an 18-year partnership track, due to her decision to sidestep it while she was raising two of her three children. When she walked into a Boston conference room in November to sign her partnership agreement at Ropes & Gray, however, she was happy to see that seven of the firm's 10 new partners, including herself, are female, reports the Recorder, in an article reprinted by New York Lawyer (reg. req.).

Higgins, who works as a litigator in the firm's Palo Alto, Calif., office, didn't pursue a special schedule after her third child was born because her husband, former Ropes & Gray partner William Steinmetz, initially went part-time to care for the now 18-month-old girl and then retired to become a full-time dad, the article says.

Today, women who want to make partner at a law firm partner have more options for scheduling flexibility than ever before, and are increasingly willing to take advantage of these options, Higgins believes. Among the possibilities: remaining on a partnership track while working either on a regular schedule or part-time, extending the partnership track or even stepping off for a time and getting back on later.

"I think all these options are available. It just depends on the woman and how she chooses to handle the work-life balance issues," she says.

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