Browsing Category 'work life balance’ RSS

Success Strategies for Women in Law

Date April 16, 2018 Comment Comments Off on Success Strategies for Women in Law

Success Strategies for Women in Law

laurn_rikleenIn my latest podcast, I speak with Lauren Stiller Rikleen. Lauren is a nationally recognized expert on developing a thriving, diverse and multi-generational workforce.  She shares some great advice for women who are looking to advance in the practice of law.  Her wisdom is also very relevant to men.

A Career Audit for Law Firm Associates

Date December 12, 2017 Comment Comments Off on A Career Audit for Law Firm Associates

A Career Audit for Law Firm Associates

38aa58f1-d33c-4d64-9467-806b573db29bLanding a job as an associate in a good law firm was the goal during law school. For those who have achieved this goal, the next step seems much less clear. Do you want to continue on the path to partnership where you are? Are there some things you want to change about your situation? Is it time to start shopping for a new home? Take this audit to help you take stock in your current job. It is not meant to be a substitute for talking to a professional about your career. But it may help you start thinking about the next steps in your career.

Flexibility and Urgency in Hiring

Date August 10, 2017 Comment Comments Off on Flexibility and Urgency in Hiring

Flexibility and Urgency in Hiring

It’s no longer 2009.  With unemployment rates hovering close to 4%, employers need to change their approach to recruiting talent.Workplace flexibility concept on the gearwheels

In the legal search business, we are seeing candidates who are being much more discriminating about what jobs they are willing to consider.  In certain areas of practice, notably corporate, real estate and IP, the attorneys and paralegals we are trying to recruit are commanding higher salaries than ever.

More importantly, some of the best talent we approach already have flexibility in their hours and they are not willing to give that up.  In 2017, the best talent wants and demands flexibility.  This is true for the attorneys and paralegals that we work with.

While most employers are not eager to have their employees coming and going, the reality is that our workforce is connected through smart phones and email.  In order to compete for the “best” talent, smart employers should be prepared to permit professional staff (and to the extent that it is consistent with the needs of the business, support staff) to spend a portion of their time working remotely.

I speak all the time to lawyers and paralegals who already have these arrangements.  If you thought hiring the “best and the brightest” was a challenge a couple of years ago, right now, it’s harder than ever to convince top talent to consider other opportunities.

Similarly, we are seeing that adding a sense of urgency to the hiring process is important in the war for talent.  When our law firm and corporate clients move quickly, they greatly increase their chances of getting the candidates they want.

While this has always been true, this seems more true than ever.  The Catch-22 is that most employers hire because they are too busy.  In the short run, the hiring process can exacerbate that problem.  But until the economy turns again, employers beware!  A long and drawn out hiring process may mean losing out on the chance to get the best talent.

Setting Limits at Work

Date July 29, 2015 Comment Comments Off on Setting Limits at Work

Setting Limits at Work

A few months ago, I spoke to a friend of mine who does transactional work for a large law firm.  He was bemoaning the fact that the pace of his workload was unsustainable.  He felt like he was drinking from a fire hose.  Clients and partners were emailing him at all hours, he was spending a significant portion of his family vacations on the phone and in general, he was feeling burnt out.

Fast forward several months and the situation has changed.  My friend is still working hard; but by modifying his own behavior, he finds that he is feeling considerably less stress.

What was interesting about my discussion was that my friend had come to realize that a portion of his stress was self inflicted.  Despite the fact that he had worked for the firm for over five years and had proved himself to be reliable and hard working, he was treating every phone call and email as urgent.

In short, he was not setting limits on any requests he was receiving.

So now, he turns off his phone at 8 p.m. every night and unless he is up against a deadline, he reserves the rest of his evening to spend time with his family and pursue his personal interests.  More importantly, when he gets requests from clients at 5 p.m., he asks them when they need to hear back.  More often than not, the answer is NOT 8 a.m. the next morning.  Similarly, he asks partners when they need a response.

By turning off his phone in the evening and by asking clients and partners for REAL deadlines, this friend of mine has made a meaningful difference in his work/life balance.  He still works long hours. But now he is much more selective about what work is urgent and which matters can wait until he gets into the office the next day.  And life is much better for him.

Law and Reorder (the book)

Date October 21, 2010 Comment Comments Off on Law and Reorder (the book)

Law and Reorder (the book)

Law and ReorderI just receive a notice about a new ABA publication on Work/Life Balance, Law and Reorder.   Ordinarily, I don’t promote books I haven’t read.  But in this case, I’m taking it on faith that it is a worthwhile read because the author is Deborah Epstein Henry.

Henry is a “nationally recognized expert on workplace restructuring, talent management, work/life balance, and the retention and promotion of lawyers, with a focus on women”.  She began her career as a litigation associate at a large law firm and during the 90’s she gained some visibility around work/life balance issues in the law by forming an organization called Flex-time Lawyers.

I look forward to reading the book (if only I could find the time!)  But I’m not going to let that stop me from letting my readers know about a new resource that is likely to be a great addition to what has already been written on this subject.

50 Best Firms for Women (Out of 105)

Date September 17, 2009 Comment Comments Off on 50 Best Firms for Women (Out of 105)

The American Lawyer raises some interesting criticism of the Working Mother magazine’s “50 Best Law Firms for Women.” I still applaud the magazine and Flex-time Lawyers for continuing to do the survey (it does keep the issue alive and force firms to at least think about the issue); but clearly this “study” does little to prove that things have improved for female attorneys (i.e. the study does not demonstrate one way or the other that during the recession, firms have become more willing to adopt better work/life practices).

Balanomics?

Date January 30, 2009 Comment Comments Off on Balanomics?

In the last recession (i.e. way back in the early “aughts”), work/life balance took a back seat at law firms. During that time frame, I sat on the Boston Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Work/Life Balance and heard many discussions about how large law firms are unwilling to focus on the issue at a time of economic stress. Will anything change this time around?

It is hard to say; but several organizations have joined together to launch a new initiative called Balanomics. The organizers of Balanomics are taking the position that work/life balance is important in good time and in bad times. The sponsors include Flex-time Lawyers, a number of bar associations, several major law firms, and two corporate legal departments. According to the Balanomics website:

Balanomics©¢ is premised on the understanding that improving work/life balance for attorneys will minimize the costs and negative consequences that result from loss and lack of productivity of high performers. The Balanomics©¢ mission is to improve work/life balance, profitability, and productivity in the profession by enhancing the retention, promotion, and professional satisfaction of talented attorneys. The goal is to achieve this by encouraging a work/life culture that emphasizes work quality, flexibility, responsiveness, and accessibility rather than face time.

Best Firms for Women–Round II

Date September 10, 2008 Comment Comments Off on Best Firms for Women–Round II

I noted a month ago that Working Women magazine has come out with it’s second annual list of best law firms for women. Yale has now come out with it’s own third annual list. For my Boston readers, WilmerHale and Mintz Levin have made the cut.

While I think these lists are instructive as to which large firms are most focused on creating better work/life programs (and implementing them as well), don’t miss the big picture. By design, large firms are most likely to service the largest clients. Large firms are most likely to have the highest billing rates. Large firms generally pay the highest salaries. Large firms are therefore most likely to have clients who are the most demanding or who have the greatest expectations when it comes to customer service.

So maybe the firms on these lists do try harder than other firms; but large firms are probably not the best place to find work/life balance.

Best Firms for Women

Date August 12, 2008 Comment Comments Off on Best Firms for Women


The results are in. Working Mother Magazine and Flex-Time Lawyers have released their second annual report on the top 50 best law firms for women. As I’ve written in the past, I do believe that rankings should be kept in perspective. Large law firms are complex institutions that offer many different realities to individual attorneys (i.e. depending on which office you work in, which department you work for, what deals or litigation matters you get staffed on, how busy your practice area may be, the personalities of the partners you report to, etc.)

Over time, look for the firms that appear on these lists year after year. Appearing once means something. Appearing consistently is worth noting.

Blocking the Exits?

Date February 29, 2008 Comment Comments Off on Blocking the Exits?


Do law firms need to block the exit doors to stop associate attrition? Should they keep raising associate salaries so that other options become uncompetitive? In the long run, I’m not sure that higher salaries will keep unhappy associates from seeking alternatives to the large firms; though in my experience, these increases certainly make other options look less attractive. I know this first hand because recruiting for smaller firms has become more difficult.

Ironically, there are much less expensive ways to slow associate departures. If firms could communicate better with associates, give them more meaningful context about their assignments and simply pay more attention to their professional development, then attrition would slow. These and other good suggestions from two law school professors (one who has worked in-house and currently with a large firm.)

These authors focus mainly on professional development as the key to retention. But clearly, work/life balance is a major issue that firms also need to address. There are a lot of talented associates who want sophisticated work, but not at all costs. The accounting industry has found ways to make this a reality. The legal community needs to crack this nut as well. One option is to adopt the model proposed by Deborah Epstein Henry of Flextimelawyers.