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Bad Economy Good For Lawyer Moms and People Who Want a Life in General


Bad Economy Good For Lawyer Moms and People Who Want a Life in General
Working Mother just reported on an interesting trend in the legal arena. While some firms are folding, others are exploring creative ways to keep employees on the payroll while still making their bottom line. In order to avoid layoffs, some firms are experimenting with other options to save them money and keep their staff happy. Strategies include flexible schedules that allow attorneys to work fewer hours while keeping their benefits, switching employees to hourly pay, increasing the amount of pro bono work, “secunding” attorneys (using reduced-hour contract schedules), and coming up with alternatives to billing such as flat-rate pricing.

The upshot for lawyers is that the notoriously inflexible legal sphere might be loosening its proverbial tie. This makes perfect sense, given the current state of the economy. The UC Hastings Project for Attorney Retention estimated that if a six-lawyer practice reduced each attorneys’ hours by 20 percent, they would save approximately $30,000 and could retain all of their employees. Whether it’s rooted in altruism or in protecting their bottom line, this means that lawyers might be able to expect to find more firms that will work around the fact that people don’t want to eat Chinese take-out at their desk in order to finish a late-night contract.

So if you’re interested in becoming a lawyer but don’t necessarily want to work in Big Law, then the recession has helped to open some interesting doors. When Working Mother rated the 50 Best Law Firms for Women, 62 percent offered full-time telecommuting, 42 percent had flexible-schedule policies and almost all of them offered reduced-hours. Let’s just hope that this increased attention to work/life balance will keep up even after the economy re-invigorates. Because we all know that Chinese take-out tastes much better in front of the TV.