During the last twelve months, most law firms have moved to home working in line with government advice and it is set to continue in some form as we return to the “new normal” over the next few months. Many law firms seem to be embracing a long term mix of office and home based working that, on the face of it, is great to see for lawyers looking for a better work/life balance.
However, a recent study from The Lawyer magazine has shown that less female parents are considering partnership and a growing percentage of mid-level associates are actively considering whether or not they will still be lawyers in 5 years’ time.
This may well be because under the surface, the offer of flexibility is a façade and lawyers are still having to put in very high billable hours to maintain profit numbers (with potential record numbers this year). 2021 is a demanding time for legal services and the promise to work from home does not actually mean more free time. There is almost a direct correlation between how many hours associates work and how much they are paid. With the billable hours culture as it is, it is difficult to reduce your recorded billable hours at a firm without negatively affecting your pay packet.
Unfortunately, research and experience has repeatedly shown that if a lawyer wants significantly more leisure time or more money, they are better off finding a new employer rather than negotiating with their current one. The interview process is the ideal time to highlight requirements/expectations that will be set out from the beginning, which will be much easier than relying on a firm to change.
The good news for those lawyers that during 2020/2021 have reconsidered what they want from a career is that the job market is returning to pre-Covid levels. Vacancysoft, a job tracking tool, shows there are more vacancies at Legal 500 firms right now than there have been in any given month since the start of 2020. The legal job market is very buoyant and firms are recruiting in so many areas.
To have a confidential conversation about the current market and/or your career plan, then please do get in touch with me at Chadwick Nott. Our large team has been working throughout the last 12 months and has a very good feel for the cultures and approaches on flexible/home working/billable targets taken by many law firms across the South East region.
Mobile: 07921 895 776
Direct line: 0117 9171864