Articles From the Team
Work-life balance – can lawyers now ‘have it all’?
The legal profession has never had much of a reputation for being progressive when it comes to flexible working. When you signed up to being a solicitor, you pretty much knew you were staring down the barrel of long hours and 25 days holidays a year, with the promise of being able to buy a few more each year if you’re lucky and getting to work from home once in a while if the plumber was coming round to fix your boiler, maybe getting the occasional extra morning off if you’d been hard at it getting a corporate deal over the line till late into the night for the last week.
As a profession, it’s still nowhere near where it needs to be if it’s going to retain some of its real talent, especially given that for a good few years now, there have been more women entering the profession than men, but it is finally being dragged kicking & screaming into the 21st century and there are now more flexible working options than there have ever been before.
As recruitment consultants, more and more we’re finding that clients don’t recoil in horror when we ask they if they can accommodate part time or flexible working options like 4 days over 5 and with the advent of the ABS, enterprising lawyers have found all sorts of ways of offering legal services which fit in around their lifestyles rather than vice versa.
Thanks to technological advances which make logging into your desktop remotely so easy that it feels as if you’re all but right there in the office, more and more firms are now offering agile working as standard, for example Walker Morris have recently rolled out an automatic entitlement to work from home one day a week, a day of your choice which can change according to your schedule week on week.
And then there’s the growing number of firms offering freelance lawyering, as they see the value of offering a more effective way of utilising the talent available in the UK legal workforce whilst also delivering the best solution for their clients. Notable models of this offering are Addleshaw Goddard’s AG Integrate, Eversheds Agile and Pinsent Masons’ Vario. Once the preserve of ‘I’ll just do this until I work out what I want to do next’ plenty of lawyers now see this way of working as being a permanent career choice that they are pursuing as an alternative to the partnership route. In this way, new types of lawyer have emerged, the entrepreneurs who use their lawyering to fund a business venture, the parents who want to share their parenting responsibilities and go on long family expeditions in the summer holidays, the travel-hungry who work part of the year to fund their world-wide trips and the variety-seekers who want the opportunity to practice a wide range of disciplines.
We now just need more job-sharing opportunities for fee earners and, you never know, the profession might soon enough have something for everyone’s choice of lifestyle...