Linklaters flexible working policy: is this the future for law firms?

by Heat Recruitment

Magic circle law firm Linklaters has recently opened its flexible working policy to all members of staff – no matter what level. This adoption was a monumental change to their agile working policy which was incorporated in 2015, and its original flexible working policy introduced in 2017 – which allowed associates to take a pay cut in order to work reduced hours.

The change comes during a time of immense emphasis being placed on flexible working and work-life balance. The law sector has come under criticism in the past for overworking their employees and providing a less than desirable style of working that offered late nights, long hours and a never-ending workload.

In a statement referring to the benefits of the policy, Linklaters said it would remove any stereotyping or challenges that may exist around who can work flexibly and the structures in place. In the 2018 gender pay gap reports, the law sector was plagued with disparity. Emphasising the significant problem that the industry has in terms of representation, from age and gender to ethnicity.

What may seem like a small step in the cause, is a giant step for law firms. Being a leader in the market enables a level of responsibility, which Linklaters is using responsibly and appropriately.

Nick Porter, partner and Chair of London People Committee at Linklaters, said:

“We believe that agile working is for everyone and that the right to request formal flexible working should be open to all. Looking at how it can work rather than why ensures we continue the journey of shifting mindsets about working flexibly and the reasons for doing so.

“While we are pleased with the direction of our flexible working offering in the UK, we recognise the needs of our people are continuously evolving and so as a business, we will commit to regularly checking in and ensuring that what we have in place still works. There isn’t a one size fits all model and people across our offices are finding the right flexibility for their roles and life. More importantly, we know that helping people to reach their life and work goals makes them happier, healthier and more motivated.”

The move is a significant one and sets a standard for the law sector to follow suit. In an era of immense competition, this policy will set apart Linklaters as an employer of choice and could pay great benefits to their candidate attraction strategy. The competition is fierce in a sector where they are significantly more candidates than training contracts. Differentiating themselves against the other magic circle firms, as well as emerging Alternative Business Structures (ABS), is bound to make them stand out against their competition.

More importantly though, they are acknowledging the fact that perks and benefits are not a one size fits all decision. The level of employee care evidenced in this short statement is significant and does wonders for employer branding and the company culture internally.

The legal sector is known for being a ruthless profession, where time and balance isn’t always respected. Reports have shown that junior lawyers suffer significantly with their mental health due to the pressures and expectations of the job. Linklaters are taking an important decision to reward their staff with the opportunity to build their career around their lives, not vice-versa.

It’s a giant step for the legal sector – one that could see imitation and will set a trend for others to follow in the coming years. Watch this space…

If you are looking to work for a law firm that promotes work-life balance, get in touch with Heat Recruitment. We have a wide client base and would be happy to discuss your options.

Heat Recruitment

by Dan Hazzard