Biglaw firms are known for their demanding workload and, at times, unpredictable hours. Sure, they pay you an awful lot of money, but that doesn’t always make up for it — that’s why burnout and associate turnover are a perennial issue in the industry. For a bunch of attorneys, the Biglaw juice is not worth the squeeze, which begets a thriving lateral job market where so-called “lifestyle” firms are able to attract quality candidates at a lower sticker price by offering a more reasonable schedule.
But what if that deal — reduced hours for reduced compensation — was available at a major law firm? Slaughter and May is betting on the appeal of exactly that.
As reported by Legal Cheek, the Magic Circle firm has had a pilot program since 2021 which allows its attorneys that flexibility:
The option, dubbed ‘Switch On/Off’, enables eligible associates to reduce to either a 0.9 or 0.8 full-time equivalent, with pay and holiday entitlement pro-rated accordingly. The firm has been trailing the system since early 2021.
Lawyers who take up the option will continue to work five days as week with non-working days taken in up to two pre-agreed blocks over a 12-month period. Associates remain on the scheme for a year.
After the success of the pilot program, the firm has decided to make the option a permanent one. As Slaughter and May chief people officer, Jonathan Clarke, said, “Following a successful trial period, we are delighted to introduce the Job Design Scheme as a permanent offering for our associates. The new working arrangement provides our lawyers with a different approach, which enables them to develop their careers and deliver value for our clients, whilst simultaneously having the time to pursue other interests and maintain a greater work-life balance.”
It’s great to see a major law firm thinking outside of the the bill, bill, bill mindset in an effort to keep talent.
Kathryn Rubino is a Senior Editor at Above the Law, host of The Jabot podcast, and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. AtL tipsters are the best, so please connect with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments and follow her on Twitter @Kathryn1 or Mastodon @Kathryn1@mastodon.social.