A week ago, The American Lawyer reported on the growing trend of flexible working arrangements in Big Law. Since then, two more Am Law 100 firms have touted plans to implement similar programs.
Jackson Lewis announced on March 13 the launch of a program open to all associates and of counsel that will allow them to work remotely as needed, so long as they remain responsive and productive.
“We want to continue to attract and retain elite-level team members, and ensure both our attorneys and clients are satisfied with the Jackson Lewis experience,” said a statement on the new policy by Jackson Lewis chairman Vincent Cino. “As far as I’m concerned, formalizing this policy is a win-win for all parties.”
Baker McKenzie subsequently announced its own program, known as bAgile, which offers different types of work arrangements, including remote working and alternative hours for all of its employees, not just lawyers, across its North America offices.
Much like that unveiled earlier this month by Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, the bAgile initiative was developed after a firmwide survey. Answers to questions about work-life balance indicated the need for the global legal giant to develop some sort of flexible working policy, said Baker McKenzie’s chief talent officer Peter May in an interview.
Interestingly what Baker McKenzie found was that the need for flexible working arrangements weren’t limited to gender or generation, but rather men and women across all levels of the firm expressing a need for some kind of alternative work environment.
“The millennials want flexible working for a set of reasons, but frankly, so do people who have been working for 20 years,” May said. “If you’re in your late 40s and 50s, you can be caught between all sorts of different responsibilities,” said May, adding that oftentimes this age group finds themselves sandwiched between caring for their parents and raising children.
May said that adopting flexible working programs like gives lawyers the opportunity to handle their responsibilities outside the firm, while ultimately still contributing its success. That has both an individual and organizational impact on a firm like Baker McKenzie, he said.
“If you actually create an environment that is flexible, that enables people to be at their best no matter where they happen to be, you’re going to have much more engaged employees,” May said. “If they’re more engaged they’re going to be more productive, and if they’re more productive, that’s going to have huge organizational implications.”