Today I’m going to talk a little bit about my experience with creating a work arrangement that works for me, and then I’m going to let someone much more entertaining and articulate share with you her research on this important subject. So for starters - I didn’t always believe that flexible work arrangements were possible in our profession (unless you were on some sort of temporary parental leave). I used to be just as skeptical as you might be as you start out reading this article. But I’ve recently changed my mind. I now fully believe flexible work arrangements are POSSIBLE, that they are REAL, and that they will become more and more common.
So how do I know flexible work arrangements are possible?
I’m currently LIVING one.
A few months ago I started working in a completely different way. A way that works for my firm AND also works for ME. I went from your typical salaried young associate running the billed hour wheel to working a reduced number of hours (approximately 15-20 hours a week – my choice) and getting paid a percentage, commensurate with my previous salary, of each hour that I bill. It is an arrangement that I LOVE as it allows me the time and flexibility to work on this blog and other TYS events and projects that I am PASSIONATE about.
The BEST part? I’ve gained CONTROL over my LIFE and have the ability to choose how I would like my work to be integrated with the rest of my life.
And how did this happen, you ask?
If I had to sum it up in one word, I’d say: COMMUNICATION.
I had a real open conversation with the partner I work mostly with about what was and wasn’t working for me, and by the end of it, we had come up with a solution that would. The partners discussed it, and all of a sudden it was REAL. It really was that simple. Don’t get me wrong, there are things, such as overhead, that firms must consider (and of course they will, they are running a business) but it doesn’t mean that alternative work arrangements are impossible. All it takes is a little CREATIVITY and a willingness to engage in a REAL CONVERSATION.
And if I haven’t quite convinced you yet that its POSSIBLE (even for those of you working at a large firm)…
I present to you two articles by Sandra Kovacs, which contain a well-researched discussion of these issues, including why innovation is necessary in the traditional firm, and how flexible work arrangements can actually benefit the traditional law firm:
- The Business Case for Improved Work-Life Balance at the Traditional Law Firm", published in The Advocate, Vol. 70, Part 6, November 2012, p. 837; and
- The Business Case for Improved Work-Life Balance at the Traditional Law Firm: Part Two, published in The Advocate, Vol. 71, Part 2, March 2013, p. 203.
Sandy was called to the bar in BC in 2005 and is currently an associate at Whitelaw Twining. She is a past President of the Vancouver Bar Association, current Vice President of the Lawyers' Inn Society, a Committee member of the Canadian Bar Association, BC Branch, Equality and Diversity Committee, and a member of various other committees, associations, and societies. She is truly dedicated to the legal profession and the issues she writes about.
Sandy has done her homework and these articles are INSPIRING. (They also offer – in my view – some helpful insights on successfully negotiating an alternative work arrangement for yourself.) I found them to be valuable, and I hope you do too!
So here’s to each of us CREATING a LIFE we LOVE in law.
Check back tomorrow for the FINAL day of TYS’ LAWYERS LOVING LIFE series. I promise you won’t be disappointed – it’s going to be a good one!