The Flexible and family friendly working: a competitive advantage for organisations report, which surveyed 140 lawyers and 27 legal practices in the UK, also found that 86% of lawyer respondents would actively look for flexible working options before joining a new organisation.
The research also found:
- 64% of lawyer respondents believe it will be more challenging for organisations to retain staff in the next five to 10 years if they do not offer flexible working.
- 35% of lawyer respondents would not feel comfortable beginning a conversation about flexible working with their employer.
- 29% of lawyer respondents feel that the majority of their colleagues assume that employees who work flexibly are ‘having an easy life’.
- 35% of female lawyer respondents believe their colleagues think flexible workers ‘have it easy’, compared to 13% of male lawyer respondents.
- 34% of lawyer respondents were made aware of flexible working options before they began their current job.
- 41% of legal practice respondents make it standard practice to discuss flexible working options with prospective employees before they join the business.
- 44% of private practice lawyer respondents do not feel comfortable discussing flexible working with their employer, compared to 22% of in-house lawyer respondents.
Ben Black (pictured), director at My Family Care, said: “As a past lawyer myself, I know exactly how hard they work and the long hours involved. Of course, with client demands and so much at stake in a short period of time, lawyers have a huge responsibility to complete their tasks but firms are fast wising up to the benefits of being more accepting of flexible working practices and supporting their staff.
“It’s very interesting to see that it’s women who feel the stigma around flexible working the most. When you look at the number of women on boards, it’s clear to see why; they take maternity leave to have a baby and when they return to work they just can’t create that healthy work-life balance that enables them to excel both at work and at home, therefore forcing them to make that difficult choice; family or career. This, of course, is to the detriment of the employer who may lose someone they have invested so much time and training in when a more open-minded approach could make a whole world of difference.”
Ian Temple, chief executive officer at Hydrogen, said: “These statistics have shone a spotlight on the differences in working culture not only between in-house and private practice lawyers, but between male and female employees. However, our research suggests that flexible working will continue to grow in popularity with many lawyers putting it as one of their top priorities when looking for a new role.”