PAR History

The PAR Research Institute was founded by Joan C. Williams and Cynthia Thomas Calvert in 1999 as the Project for Attorney Retention (PAR) and has played a leadership role in developing best practices to retain women—and to improve work-life balance for men as well as women–in the legal profession.

The PAR Research Institute was founded by Joan C. Williams and Cynthia Thomas Calvert, who had just resigned her position as a litigation partner as the Project for Attorney Retention (PAR). The PAR Research Institute has played a leadership role in developing best practices to retain women, and to improve work-life balance throughout in the legal profession since its founding in 1999.

When The PAR Research Institute was founded, part-time lawyers typically were taken off partnership track and paid 60% of the pay for 80% of the work. The PAR Research Institute’s model part-time policy, which keeps women on partnership track and pays them proportional to their hours of work, has spread to law firms throughout the U.S. The PAR Research Institute has provided resources for law firms to develop work-life policies and advice for individual attorneys seeking to work successful part-time schedules.

The PAR Research Institute also studied, and developed best practices, for in-house legal departments. The PAR Research Institute’s influential studies led major corporations such as Allstate Insurance to completely revamp, and expand, their part-time programs. The PAR Research Institute’s focus gradually expanded to other issues relevant to women in the legal profession.

In 2008, The PAR Research Institute wrote the new edition of the ABA Commission on Women’s Fair Measure: Toward Effective Attorney Evaluations, incorporating both best employment practices and 35 years of studies on gender bias into a performance evaluation manual designed for law firms.

In 2010, The PAR Research Institute incorporated its signature approach to gender bias into its study, co-authored with the Minority Corporate Counsel Association, of the impact of law-firm compensation systems on women. This study provided a crucial tool for women partners to insist that their firms begin to benchmark the proportion of women among their top earners.

In 2007, The PAR Research Institute invited law firms and corporate counsel departments to join as members. Its highly successful membership program, which ran from 2007 until 2012, gathered best practices, reviewed law member firms’ part-time policies, and provided teleconferences on women’s advancement of work-life balance. In 2009, its Diversity and Flexibility Connection brought together the chairs of 12 major law firms with general counsel of 12 major companies to work together on increasing diversity in the legal profession by spurring the adoption of model part-time policies.

In 2012, Manar Morales, appointed as Executive Director in 2011, founded the Diversity & Flexibility Alliance, which took over the membership functions of The PAR Research Institute. Today, The Project for Attorney Retention’s traditional role as a leading research institute on the study of the legal profession, and the leading author of best practices for the legal profession, is carried on by The PAR Research Institute, which is part of the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.

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