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A study conducted by the Georgia Association for Women Lawyers concluded that flexible work arrangements are crucial to recruiting and retaining women lawyers and mitigating financial risk for employees. In the survey of 84 Georgia law firms, more than 60 percent of female attorneys leaving law firms cited the desire for a different schedule or professional dissatisfaction as their reason, according to the group. The survey was released Tuesday and is available online. GAWL’s survey results show that lawyers’ attitudes about part-time and flexible work schedules have progressed. Over 93 percent of all respondents look favorably on employers that allow part-time or flexible work arrangements while 86 percent of women attorneys are interested in part time or flexible work arrangements. Still, while perceptions are shifting as attrition increases, employers have been slow to adapt, the survey found. Both men and women lawyers believe working part-time or on a flexible schedule is career limiting; this dichotomy may be explained by firms’ underwhelming strides to implement policies supporting flexible work arrangements. More than half of the firms surveyed have never employed a part-time attorney. Greater than 60% of law firms have no formal written part-time policy. Other results of the survey: Due to accelerating attrition rates among women lawyers, law firms currently face challenges associated with employee diversity, increasing firm costs and client relationships. Women represent nearly one-half of U.S. law school graduates, but only 17% of partners in law firms. Such loss of female associates may interrupt client-firm relationships, negatively impact fees, and increase firm operating expenses. A law firm will spend an estimated $280,000 to $500,000 to replace a second year associate. While the costs alone are staggering, maintaining a diverse workforce is important for law firms wishing to promote themselves and benefit from a heterogeneous work environment. These factors highlight the business imperative for employers to implement retention policies and procedures.

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