Work/Life Balance

Associates Get Cut of New Biz at this Flex-Schedule Friendly Firm

Chicago lawyer Deane B. Brown set her sights on looking for a new firm, with more realistic expectations, after she gave birth in 1996.

Nights, weekends away from home left her feeling cheated. So in 2002, she joined a smaller shop, Beermann Swerdlove, where she told Business Week recently, “We appreciate that people have lives outside of the office here.”

Business Week notes that, “Law is a notoriously demanding profession for those with ambition;” often requiring 46 billable hours a week without breaks.

But the piece says that Beermann Swerdlove lies on the outer slope of the country’s women-in-partnership (17.2 percent) bell curve. Half of the firm’s 30 attorneys are women, including eight of 19 partners.

Firm founder Miles Beermann says the firm’s egalitarian nature came about because, “I didn’t ever want to be involved in running a sweatshop.”

Instead, Beermann told Business Week that he wanted lawyers to want to come to work in the morning.

At the firm, associates are expected to bill 1,800 hours. Flexible schedules are permitted so long as the work is done and clients are happy. But starting salaries are lower than the big firms, about half of BigLaw’s $150,000 starting salaries, with partners rarely breaking the $1 million mark.

Associates also are allowed to share in the percentage of any new business they bring in.

Hat tip Ms. JD.

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