Having Work-Life Balance policies is now common practice among many Law firms and businesses alike. Work-Life Balance is the proper prioritizing of work and lifestyle in an individual’s life. The Law Profession is notorious for long hours and a lack of this balance, however times are changing and many firms are adopting special policies to accomodate their employees and seeing great performance as a result.
What kinds of policies should we have?
As a Small Law Firm, you might ask: “What kind of policies can we offer our employees?” To answer that question, you have to look at your firm closely. See what your employees need most and what’s within the budget. Here are some of the more common work-life balance policies being implemented in today’s market:
-Parental Leave (Maternity and/or Paternity)
-Flex Time (Working from home)
-Childcare services (On-site or Reimbursement Plan)
-Encouraging Travel, Volunteering, and Civic Participation through the company
Of all of these, the most common policy among law firms is Parental Leave. Due to the increasing number of women in the legal profession, it is imperative that your firm has a policy in place for the possibility of missed time due to pregnancy and maternity needs. Many firms even offer a similar program to new fathers (Paternal Leave), typically with a shorter duration.
What are other firms doing to promote good Work-Life Balance?
As more Millennials are hired into entry-level legal positions, the demand for jobs that provide potential career growth as well as an enjoyable lifestyle outside of work has risen significantly. This has led many notable law firms to invest in Work-Life policies that are both innovative and, in most cases, effective. Some good examples of these firms are as follows:
-Bingham McCutchen LLP (Boston, MA): Childcare services and Civic Participation Programs
-Kirkland & Ellis LLP (Chicago, IL): Women’s Leadership, Maternal and Paternal Leave, Emergency Childcare
-Orrick, Herrington, & Sutcliffe LLP (San Francisco, CA): Progressive Return Program, Alternative Work Program, Mentoring Program (Parental Leave Programs)
What do Graduating Law Students seek in their first Legal Job?
Like we stated before, as a Small Firm, you must choose which Work-Life policies that are feasible for your business. However, statistics show that associates are leaving firms at rates much higher than before due to workplace stressors and poor Work-Life Balance, among other things. According to NationalJurist.com, 78% of associates leave a firm by their fifth year, and nearly half of all women leave firms at some point within the first 10 years of employment in a Law Firm. As a Small Firm, having solid Work-Life Balance policies and educating recruits about how your firm can help them pursue the career they want while raising a family/having leisure time. This will help you recruit top talent, and makes your firm more attractive to 3Ls and recent Law School Graduates.
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