Law Practice

Law Firms Seek to Be 'Cuddly' in Growing Work/Life Balance Trend

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An ever-increasing effort by some of the nation’s biggest and most tradition-bound law firms to help attorneys achieve work-life balance has been recognized by some of the nation’s best-known newspapers.

In a Style column today, the New York Times trumpets a trend of major law firms seeking to become “cuddly” places to work. For example, more are open to considering alternatives to charging clients based on billable hours, and to allowing associates the option of working a reduced schedule for less pay, explains the Wall Street Journal Law Blog, in a wrap-up of the recent Times coverage.

“There are things happening everywhere, enough to call it a movement,” Deborah Epstein Henry, a lawyer and consultant who founded Flex-Time Lawyers Inc., tells the Times. “The firms don’t think of it as a movement, because it is happening in isolation, one firm at a time. But if you step back and see the whole puzzle, there is definitely real change.”

However, that goal has by no means been achieved. As discussed in a recent post, a Times article published only a few weeks earlier chronicles the many lawyers (and doctors) who—feeling depressed and overworked—are exiting their respective professions in droves. And, while some law firms, such as Chapman and Cutler and Perkins Coie, offer associates a chance to work fewer hours but continue doing high-end work, others apparently are opting to create a “B” team of lower-paid lawyers who perform less-skilled legal tasks, as another post details. “Scott Turow: Ban Billable Hour”

ABA Journal: “The Billable Hour Must Die” “Boston Law Firm Bans Billable Hour” “Clients May Help End Billing by the Hour”

ABA Journal: “Students Aim for BigLaw Change” “Top Students Hold Law Firm Trump Cards”

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