Magic Circle firm Slaughter and May has reportedly issued a “Working Practices Code” designed to provide standards — and improve work/life balance — for associates’ responsiveness.
Specifically, the code makes it clear it is not necessary to turn your camera on on a video call between the hours of 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. Additionally, the expectation is that associates will check their email once on a Friday night and twice a day over the weekend and not at all between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. Of course, the firm did issue this caveat: “unless you are working on a matter/s where you consider that to be necessary.”
Oh, and there’s another big stipulation — the firm’s code makes it clear “for this to work, you need to be reachable by phone.”
As a firm partner noted, while the firm needs “to empower people to behave like normal human beings and have their own expectations of a life,” the client is still #1. “Ultimately, the client comes first. We’re a bit like a five-star hotel. We’re very expensive… [clients know] that if you call room service at 2 a.m. for a sundae, you’ll get one.”
Legal Cheek reports partner Steve Cooke’s take:
“The need for the Code became clear during the conversations we had as part of the Associate Review earlier this year where, after a period of intense home working, the unnecessary incursions people were experiencing into their downtime periods were more pronounced. The Code attempts to rectify that with some simple principles”.
It’s nice to see a firm taking a proactive approach to balance the demands of Biglaw with a real life.
Kathryn Rubino is a Senior Editor at Above the Law, host of The Jabot podcast, and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. AtL tipsters are the best, so please connect with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments and follow her on Twitter (@Kathryn1).