I’ve been conducting some background research in relation to a part time opportunity on which I’m instructed, and this article discussing flexible working practices in the legal profession caught my eye again. (http://www.lawgazette.co.uk/65297.article)
It is well worth a read and reminded me of how much the business landscape has changed over the past 20 years, and how the in house lawyer is much more able to achieve a more harmonious work / life pattern, whilst still offering a responsive high quality service to his/her in house clients.
Typically (though not exclusively), we are of course discussing female lawyers, until such time as science gives men the chance to share the child bearing duties, though the new shared parental leave rights taking effect in 2015 should also have an impact.
And given that nearly 63% of trainee solicitors are women, the legal community is fast being forced to find ways to adapt.
It seems that working in house tends to lend itself to part time or flexible working patterns more easily. Of course, chief amongst the factors is the billings clock. The absence of any ‘billable hours’ targets, can focus the in house lawyer output more exclusively on other results, with a greater pressure to finish a job in a shorter time, rather than the opposite.
Additionally, as you are not usually a transactional lawyer, and are (theoretically…) on the same team as your client base, it can be easier to have a realistic conversation about the urgency of any particular piece of work, and to ‘push back’ to clients.
The Private Practice environment (indeed in any professional services firm) can often be a highly politicised environment, which is often less the case in a more multidisciplinary in house team, where the wider business will have embraced flexi-work patterns in other areas.
Often the business will comment that they need access to their legal counsel all the week, but with technology in the workplace as slick as it is, no-one is every truly out of touch, and a commercial contracts lawyers’ job almost demands some undisturbed peace and quiet on occasion. The most important factor is surely to have management within the business who truly understand how a flexible work pattern can be beneficial.
Part time in house roles are coming onto the market with greater frequency so if you would like to discuss the various options, please feel free to give me a call, Tom Fleet or visit our website BCL Legal