find the latest legal job
Corporate Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Highly-respected, innovative and entrepreneurial Not-for-Profit · Competency based Board
View details
Chief Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Dynamic, high growth organisation · ASX listed market leader
View details
In-house Projects Lawyer | Renewables / Solar | 2-5 Years PQE
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: All Australia
· Help design the future · NASDAQ Listed
View details
Insurance Lawyer (3-5 PAE)
Category: Insurance and Superannuation Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Dynamic organisation ·
View details
Legal Counsel
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: North Sydney NSW 2060
· 18 month fixed term contract · 3-5 years PQE with TMT exposure
View details
Lawyers challenge inflexible firms

Lawyers challenge inflexible firms

Kirsten Adams Victorian Women Lawyers

Fears of a client backlash against lawyers working flexible hours are unfounded, the head of Victorian Women Lawyers says.

VWL convener Kirsten Adams (pictured) spoke to Lawyers Weekly ahead of the April launch of new Flexible Work Protocols formulated by the industry body.

She said most firms had established flexible work policies, but few encourage lawyers to work flexibly and some even discouraged it, either directly or indirectly.

One example of how firms might indirectly discourage lawyers is by excluding flexible workers from interesting or challenging projects.

“Typically, it’s only by doing that sort of work that lawyers can progress in their careers,” Ms Adams said.

Resistance to flexible work practices stems from concern that clients prefer to work with lawyers who do not have commitments that limit their availability.

Ms Adams said that fear was baseless, pointing out most corporates and government departments had embraced flexible work practices long before the legal profession, which is often seen as “stuck in the dark ages”.

She also argued that satisfying the client demand for responsiveness didn't mean a lawyer had to be physically in the office for 16 hours a day. Instead, firms should consider resourcing alternatives that preserve service levels while accommodating flexible work patterns.

“Flexibility, when done properly, works well for everybody involved – lawyers, practices and clients – where appropriate procedures and channels are set up to ensure service delivery,” Ms Adams said.

In an effort to convince the profession to embrace flexible work practices, VWL has released a best-practice guide with six protocols that cover parental leave, part-time work, job sharing, flexible work hours and working remotely.

Each section has its own business case that lawyers can take to their superiors.

“Working with those with a need for work flexibility is in the best interests of the business; that’s not something legal businesses have come to acknowledge yet.

“Too much money and time is invested in employees to lose them because the business is unable to, or not prepared to, accommodate changed circumstances for what often ends up being a very short period of those people’s careers.”

The VWL initiative comes a year after the release of the landmark National Attrition and Re-engagement Study, which explores the reasons for the high rate of attrition among women in the legal profession.

Ms Adams noted, however, that flexibility was not just a women’s issue. Men with carer responsibilities or other commitments were increasingly demanding access to flexible work options, as are young lawyers who want to pursue interests outside of work.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Lawyers challenge inflexible firms
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
LCA president Fiona McLeod SC
Aug 17 2017
Where social fault lines meet the justice gap in Aus
After just returning from a tour of the Northern Territory, LCA president Fiona McLeod SC speaks wit...
Marriage equality flag
Aug 17 2017
ALHR backs High Court challenge to marriage equality postal vote
Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) has voiced its support for a constitutional challenge to ...
Give advice
Aug 17 2017
A-G issues advice on judiciary’s public presence
Commonwealth Attorney-General George Brandis QC has offered his advice on the public presence of jud...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...