Is a Wal-Mart Law Firm Coming to Your Town?

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Walmart plans to require its outside law firms to have flextime policies in place, according to this snippet in the ABA Journal, first reported (here) by the National Law Journal.

Law firms must have flextime policies if they want to do legal work for Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Wal-Mart associate general counsel Joseph West said his company will add the flextime requirement to its current list of criteria used to evaluate outside law firms, the  National Law Journal reports. The retailer also decides whether to hire law firms based on cost-effectiveness, performance and diversity. * * *

He said Wal-Mart plans to require flextime policies and require that “the policies themselves be flexible,”according to the NLJ account.

“We’ve found that even those firms that have flextime policies, they haven’t communicated to attorneys in the firm that it’s OK to use them without fear or shame,” West said.

I applaud this decision by Wal-Mart, and I think that Mr. West accurately identifies a next level of analysis and opportunity.  Many big law firms have flextime programs.  Some attorneys at some firms avail themselves of it.  Most of those attorneys are women.  Until the pool of people taking advantage of flextime opportunities has greater gender balance, the existence of flextime programs isn’t enough.  If Wal-Mart were to require a firm to demonstrate that a close-to-equal number of men and women were “flextime” lawyers, that might result in a meaningful change.

-Bridget Crawford

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