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Is Agile Working The Key To Attracting Top Legal Talent?

  • October 18, 2016

The number of employers implementing agile working policies has climbed sharply in recent years, and as city firms battle to attract and retain top legal talent, a range of practices are introducing policies which give lawyers greater flexibility over their work/life balance. In a profession that is known for its exceptionally long hours and substantial focus on productivity, the prospect of working flexibly will likely be welcomed by many.

Understandably many firms have broached the prospect of agile working somewhat tentatively with the notable exceptions of two city practices in Schillings and Mishcon de Reya, who have both introduced new and innovative flexible working practices. Schillings recently announced that lawyers only need to come into the office two days a week, while Kevin Gold, the managing partner of Mishcon de Reya, allows lawyers to work from home as many or few days as they want.

Ultra – agile – the way to retain top legal talent?

Mischon De Reya pioneered the ultra-agile working trend when its managing partner Kevin Gold told lawyers they could work as many or few days in the office as they want, in addition to being able to take unlimited holiday. Gold claimed that the policy stemmed from wanting to foster greater gender balance within the firm, and encourage female talent to return to the profession after taking a career break to have children. Interestingly Mischon De Reya was one of few firms to post 100% autumn retention scores.

Following the upheaval of its existing flexible working scheme, Schillings is set to eliminate all fixed desks from its offices in favour of a new ‘desk booking system’ that enables lawyers to book a spot for a specific day or week. Christopher Mills, Shillings’ COO said that the scheme aimed to improve collaboration between the firm’s various teams, including cyber security and intelligence. He also highlighted recruitment and retention as a key driver behind the implementation.

Flexible working – the way ahead?

According to a recent study by Grass Roots, 49% of employees claimed that flexible working arrangements and work-life balance are their most valuable benefits. Interestingly the same study found that while 84% of all respondents indicated that their benefit package was important in keeping them in their current role, that figure rose to 93% for 25-44 year olds. These figures support the growing consensus that younger generations are increasingly beginning to value holistic benefits packages over additional cash compensation.

While the take up of flexible working arrangements in law may not be a quick as in industries such as media and tech, it’s evident that more and more practices are coming to realise the value of such policies. And with millennials searching for ever more holistic benefits packages agile working polices may set one firm out above the next when professionals are searching for a new role.

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