• 28 October 2019
  • Legal

Work-life balance and the legal sector: Not just flexible working

A few weeks ago, I responded to a question I was asked by a Solicitor about flexibility in the legal sector. As I explained, the legal sector is changing and flexible working is no longer a taboo subject. In fact, many firms are actively trying to adapt to suit flexible working expectations.

Law firms are sitting up and recognising that times are changing across the industry and that, if they want to attract the best talent, they need to change. As 40% of lawyers think that flexible working is the biggest benefit when choosing a law firm, it’s more and more important that firms are representative of the wants and needs of their workers.

In a recent survey, where the work-life balance of 258 British and US lawyers at firms with more than 50 employees were compared, 60% of British lawyers said that their work-life balance was “good”, with another 18% labelling it as “very good”, and 22% referring to the balance as “bad or very bad”.

While these results are weighted in favour of an overall response for good work-life balance, there are still some lawyers who found that this wasn’t the case. This is where the flexibility we’re seeing becomes more prevalent in law firms across the industry. They’re working to make changes - and we may expect this number to fall as additional benefits are becoming more widely accepted as part and parcel of working life.

The same survey, from which a cross section of British law firms came off well with regards to work-life balance, found that their US counterparts actually officially came out on top.

Just as with British lawyers, US lawyers appear to put strong stock in the importance of flexibility, culture fit, and getting on with their colleagues. 38% of those polled claiming they had a “somewhat good” work-life balance, and 35% giving a response of “very good”, where only 14% of US lawyers taking part in the survey gave “bad” or “very bad” as an answer. 

It might look from those statistics as though work-life balance is an area where British law firms can look to the US to provide examples of keeping their workers well compensated - as many firms in London have already begun to. 

However, when you look at the statistics with regards to benefits such as holiday entitlement, we can see that Britain’s overall work-life balance is still miles ahead - comparatively speaking.

 

Charlotte Scotland is a Resourcing Consultant in the Legal Division at Harvey John.

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