Both Fenwick and Pillsbury, the law firm I worked for most recently, are highly lauded for supporting and advancing workplace flexibility, but both have many unique factors, not easily replicable, that lead to their progressive cultures – both in policy and in practice. However, in speaking with attorneys at dozens of different law firms during my tenure with a legal industry collaborative and with several of my peers leading talent retention efforts at other law firms over the years, one thing became abundantly clear. Many law firm flexible work arrangement programs simply don’t work long-term for the attorneys participating. What attracted me to FLEX by Fenwick was the opportunity to advance a different, more sustainable work-life balance model for lawyers. There are 3 key differences at FLEX:
- FLEXIBILITY: At FLEX, lawyers working in a flexible capacity is for the explicit purpose of providing greater client service and is inherent in our business model. Most flexible work arrangement programs in law firms, on the other hand, are made as an accommodation, sometimes begrudgingly, for the attorneys requesting them.
- FREEDOM TO CHOOSE: FLEX attorneys choose the parameters of the engagements they will accept – whether they have specific scheduling needs, commute preferences, or career advancement goals. They also choose whether they plan to participate in FLEX on a longer term basis or as an interim move. At the majority of law firms, a flexible work arrangement request still needs to prioritize the needs of the business and those of the partners the attorney works for above all else. The attorney may be reluctant to freely disclose their future goals.
- CAREER GROWTH: FLEX attorneys have the opportunity for significant career growth due to the sophisticated nature of the engagements. Too often, an attorney that opts for a reduced schedule at a law firm faces career stagnation. They are thought of as less committed to their careers, and as a result, they may get passed over for plum assignments. Even in my short time here, I’ve seen several attorneys gain valuable experience that has grown their skills and advanced their careers significantly.
I’m excited to be a part of a rapidly growing model of legal practice – one that closely aligns to the work-life demands of many attorneys and the changing needs of clients today. For more information about FLEX, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.