I recently came across an article from January 2014 which reports that only 68% of junior lawyers aspire to become a Partner. Perhaps more interestingly, of the 1800 lawyers surveyed worldwide, just 37% of those aged 26-30, and 43% of those 30-40, viewed law as a job for life. I suspect that a similar survey a generation ago, or even 10 years ago, would show a vastly different result.

The key concern identified was flexible working, and a desire for a better work/life balance. It made me wonder whether the legal profession has fallen behind others in terms of technology, or alternative, more flexible, ways of working. Perhaps it is just the nature of a lawyers’ work, or the fact that a reduction in available work has meant lawyers having to do more work, and resultant longer hours, to make the same fee income as they did 6 or 7 years ago.

The other article I came across was again on the The Lawyer website . It reports that Mishcon de Reya, the international firm with offices in London and New York, have told their lawyers they can work as many or as few days as they want. In other words…unlimited holidays! They can also work anywhere they want. Sounds good doesn’t it?

For those who have felt awkward about working from home for a morning / day, for fear of it being deemed as ‘skiving’, a culture where this is the norm sounds great. In my personal experience, working from home is in fact often far more productive. With nearly every firm operating a time recording system of some sort, or means of tracking fee income per fee earner/Partner, those sitting at home watching Jeremy Kyle would soon be caught out anyway.

So, the point is – will we see more of this in the future, as a way of firms retaining staff in the profession, and in their firm? It could also mean that large firms need less office space, thereby saving on rent, heating and lighting etc etc.

The flipside is that some will say the arrangement at Mishcon de Reya will actually result in people taking less holidays. Without the ‘structure’ that comes with an annual holiday entitlement, will people compete with each other to take the least holidays? One key phrase that Mishcon de Reya state is that the flexible working is unlimited, ‘as long as it doesn’t affect their clients’. Will it mean that lawyers can never fully switch off, or leave work behind?

I am interested in your thoughts on this, and whether such measures at your firm would actually make a difference to your views on whether law is a career for life?


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