Legal Business Blogs

‘Some firms do it very well’: Top City outfits embrace flexible working

The City’s leading firms have formally embraced flexible working, with the percentage of fee-earners working part-time at the top ten of the Legal Business 100 ranging between 2% and 10%.

Our quality of life survey, published this month, found all of the UK’s top ten law firms have policies around flexible working. Many of the partners interviewed said their firms also allowed teams to develop their own strategy of flexible working, with partners asked to use their own discretion as to whether members of their team needed time off.

The survey found DLA Piper has 10% of its UK fee-earners working part-time, followed closely by Hogan Lovells, which has 9% of its fee-earners working less than full-time hours. One fifth and 16% respectively of these firms’ business support staff also have similar arrangements.

In the Magic Circle, respondents surveyed generally had lower statistics for part-time workers. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has the largest reported amount of part-time fee-earners in the group, with 6% on such arrangements. Sixteen percent of the firm’s business services staff also work part-time, while the firm has also taken on a flexible and informal agile working policy.

Linklaters and Allen & Overy (A&O) both have 4% of their fee-earning staff on part-time working arrangements, while just 2% of Slaughter and May’s lawyers work part-time. Clifford Chance did not disclose the proportion of its fee-earners or staff with part-time working arrangements.

Slaughters, however, has the largest percentage of business support staff working part-time at 25%. Linklaters has 23%, while A&O has 19%.

Meanwhile, Norton Rose Fulbright said 17% of its total staff work part-time. Both Herbert Smith Freehills and CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang did not disclose figures.

Millnet managing director and former director of general counsel services at RPC Consulting, Julia Chain (pictured), said: ‘A lot of law firms now are looking with sympathy at flexible working and working from home. If I am really honest, there are some firms who do it very well. But a lot of law firms have yet to really embrace this fully, allowing people to work flexibly or trusting them to work from home more. It’s a model that will become increasingly important.’

For more on agile working, read our Quality of Life report, released this month (£)