“Pay me less but work me less” – conflicting data

One allure of going in-house has always reportedly been that the hours are less than at a law firm (See my post of March 26, 2006 about a report by BCG that challenges this lure.). A recent study by Texas Tech University School of Law professor Susan Saab Fortney found widespread dissatisfaction with work hours among law department lawyers, according to Business Law Today, Vol. 15, May/June 2006 at 7.

The article says that “41 percent of corporate lawyers said they’d be willing to take a pay cut in order to spend fewer hours on the clock.” My suspicions are aroused. A better question would have specified the size of the pay cut because many respondents might have thought of small bills for big hours.

I note that 780 Canadian corporate counsel this year gave a “satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied” rating to “work-life balance” – a reasonably proxy for hours on the clock – slightly more than three-quarters of the time, according to In-House Corporate Counsel Barometer 2006, Canadian Corp. Counsel Assoc. at 5. Unless in-house lawyers north of 54’40” are markedly different than those south, it’s hard to square 25 percent unsatisfied with work-life and 41 percent unsatisfied with hours on the clock.

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