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13 replies

Vickimumsnet · 08/12/2011 15:09

The law society have announced a protocol to help firms implement flexible working practices. One of our family friendly members is sponsoring it and we'd like to know what you think. Will it work? Have you or your partner had experience of flexible working in a law firm? How hard is it for people in client facing roles? What do you think :)

OP posts:
GooseyLoosey · 08/12/2011 15:16

Don't have much time for the Law Society and not sure that a protocol from them will affect what goes on in Firms much. However I have worked flexibly in one of the silver circle firms for 11 years and a magic circle firm before that. Firms are not too bad at allowing it these days as long as you give up any career aspirations. I no longer do client facing work, but whilst you do, you have to be equally flexible amount meeting your client's requirements.

WorkInProgress · 08/12/2011 15:40

The law society is pretty shite and only does things like this to give it's self something to do. It only regulates and makes things more difficult for lawyers and does not represent them or fight for them.
The legal world is very client led, flexi working is not ideal for them so a solicitor can only negotiate it if he/she is very good. It won't be offered as standard, no matter what the law society say. Agree with Goosey that you have to give up career aspirations to work part time.

ExMagicCircle · 08/12/2011 15:53

Ah ha ha ha. Sorry, but I couldn't resist the cynical laugh.

I worked part time - under a flexible working agreement - in a Magic Circle firm until recently. My department were great, initially, at walking the walk and talking the talk IYSWIM. Flexible working arrangements were granted to a number of fee earners (senior associates; the only junior associate who applied was turned down) as well as to PSLs and secretaries. After a time, they realised that too many people were applying for flexible working (almost every mat leave returnee - and there were a lot). Consequently they decided that the only flexible working arrangement they would permit was one of 4 days Hmm and, worse, they even put pressure on people on existing flexible working arrangements to increase their days to 4.

Quite apart from my firm's interesting interpretation of the regulations, from the fee earners' perspectives, yes, they got their 1 or 2 days at home each week and/or got to leave the office at 5 sharp but were still expected to be available by BB and email in the evenings and, on occasion, on non-working days. Also, it goes without saying that although they were only being paid for e.g. 4 days' work, there was no appreciable scaling back of work that the firm expected from that person. Oh yes, and, for a time, anyone on a fixed hours arrangement, had an additional 20% knocked off their salary.

Re career aspirations, I don't think people on flexible working were expected to give up on them but they were expected to be content with e.g. being made Counsel rather than Partner. I suspect that anyone who wanted to push along the partnership track would have been expected to return to full time working.

And really, this was a department that tried - it really did - to accommodate the wishes of a fair number of women (no men applied). Unfortunately, the way it went about it, at least at times, generated a certain amount of resentment and upset.

And I have to say, given the business model to which the firm as a whole adheres to, I don't really know how my department could have handled it differently (apart from its unlawful push back on the existing arrangements, that is). Will be very interested to see the Law Soc's proposal although am just a touch sceptical that firms will pay much attention to them.

Sorry for the essay!

Acanthus · 08/12/2011 16:07

I think the law society are a waste of space too. I only managed to get a three day a week contract by moving out of the city centre to a small town where they were glad enough to get someone with my training and experience. In the city centre - bit of a disaster. I was refused three days, blacklisted (well, you know what I mean) for having taken more than six months' maternity leave and generally seen as lacking commitment. My firm saw mon to fri nine to five as part time, tbh.

Luminescence · 08/12/2011 16:16

My dp's firm are very reasonable, but that's not the norm.

MrsJohnDeere · 08/12/2011 16:21

I'm married to a lawyer, partner in a big City firm. He regards the Law Society as a total waste of space (to put it much more politely thanks wouldGrin).
Work is client led and according to the demands and working hours of mainly overseas clients (with obvious time difference issues). They are paid well to compensate for it.

Vickimumsnet · 08/12/2011 19:58

Law Society isn't getting a great write up Shock I'm wondering whether they are the right people to be trying to push this sort of agenda forward? Is it not a good thing that they are at least talking about flexible working? Or is it a tick box?

OP posts:
Acanthus · 09/12/2011 11:33

I'm not sure which areas of practice do find the Law Society useful, tbh. The big London firms feel that they have no idea what they do, the PI firms find them spineless as they watch the insurance companies persuade Jack Straw to give them what they want, smaller high street firms find them unhelpful in giving guidance.....

adamgreen · 20/12/2021 10:21

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chloechloe · 05/05/2022 19:41

Call me cynical but the fact the LS is talking about flexible working doesn’t mean anything. Many firms like to advertise it to make themselves look good but either they won’t grant it in practice or your career stalls.

I’m a lawyer working part time with 60% of that homeworking (pre Corona) and my employer is truly flexible with my role. But I’m no longer in private practice. Even so it’s clear if I want a legal/managerial role I will need to do 100%.

I have several female friends who are partners in mid to large firms and they all work 100% (I.e. 120%). The only concession is working from home for 2-3 days a week but they’re still expected to work evenings and weekends if needed. They are all in transaction based roles though - I’m sure some practice areas are more flexible.

NapoleonSolo · 16/05/2022 14:16

I'll believe it when I see it. Admittedly a while ago, but my partner and I were both working for a City law firm when I had my first child. We both wanted to move to part-time work so as to share childcare. He was flatly refused, I was only allowed to if I agreed to have my contract altered to less preferential terms. We both left. The pace of change in firms like this is akin to a U-turn by an ocean-going liner in my experience.

SweetSakura · 27/06/2022 22:20

What baffles me is why firms need to micromanage working patterns at all

Surely billable hours /client satisfaction etc could be the key markers, not hours in the office?

I've moved in house and am able to set my own hours, and I lead a big team of lawyers who all do the same. It doesn't matter whether they are parents or not. One has a late start tomorrow as an elderly relative needs to get to hospital, another worked 7--10 am this morning then went for brunch as she had no more meetings till the afternoon.

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