The Legal Profession, Flexible Hours and Working from Home
Many years ago, when I started out in law, flexible hours were something women benefited from when they had given birth and returned to work for a few years. Otherwise hours were strictly 9am to 5pm with an hour for lunch.
These days however law firms are a lot more flexible generally about hours, office time and working from home. Employers can now use apps and software to track completed work and they no longer have to worry about employees working from home by going to the pub for the afternoon. Provided you keep tabs on employees located at home or working on flexible hour arrangements you will find that productivity levels should not drop particularly.
A lot of solicitors look for flexible hours when making a move and it can be a lot easier to attract and retain staff by being aware of this. There are a huge number of people working on zero hours contracts in a wide range of professions and jobs because it suits their lifestyle and also enables an element of freedom during the week. To give an example – I know of a solicitor who works for 6 months every year in the UK as a locum and then spends 6 months of the year working as a ski instructor in France. Others have part time jobs for 3 days a week, with 1 day a week spent running their own business and another day helping elderly family relatives.
The legal profession has finally embraced home working and flexible hours and it is getting to be the norm at a lot of law firms. Do not be afraid to ask at your firm if you are thinking about this. If you need flexible hours and are not getting them it can be worth thinking about a move and ensuring the flexibility is a prerequisite before joining a new practice.
If you are returning to work after a break – maternity leave or similar – think carefully about your hours. A lot of law firms will try to shoe horn you into a role which may not be beneficial to your family life. Have a think about the hours you want to work and what the hours are that you would like at home when you return. Working every day for say 5 hours can be a bit of a bind, but working for 2 days for 7.5 hours each day can free you up for other things much more effectively. Your employer will want you to do the former, but it would be much more beneficial to you to do the latter.