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Slaughter and May pilots job share and reduced hours schemes

Magic Circle law firm Slaughter and May is testing a range of working arrangements for junior lawyers such as job shares and school holiday leave.

The firm has launched three pilots as part of its post-pandemic working strategy, focusing on ways to reduce hours, increase flexibility or job share where associates feel necessary.

“Switch on/off” allows lawyers to work annualised hours or commit to term-time working to accommodate school holidays or other extended periods. When they are working, they must work five days a week and cannot reduce their total hours by more than 20% compared to full time associate equivalent.

The benefit is not restricted to parents and accrued non-working days can be taken in pre-determined blocks of leave, agreed at the start of the year.

Secondly, where lawyers work on a project basis, they have the option to take unpaid leave between jobs. This will benefit those who work in areas such as private equity and corporate law where there are spikes of long hours in order to close deals.

Associates are expected to commit to working “end to end” for the duration of a transaction, five days a week when not taking the leave.

Finally, the firm is trialling an arrangement where associates have the option to split jobs on reduced hours, meaning two associates could share a single role and work three days each a week, with one day of overlap.

The pairing could be two associates with the same level of post qualification experience (PQE) or a junior and senior associate.

“We want to find working arrangements that provide our lawyers with a sustainable way of working, but which also ensure they feel supported to do their work and continue to deliver value to clients, whilst also developing their careers, and managing work-life balance,” Slaughter and May partner Caroline Philips told the Financial Times.

Last month, Norton Rose Fulbright announced that workers would be able to spend two days a week in the office, two days from home and one “flexible” day when they could choose to work remotely or in the office.

Despite a reputation for long hours and high pressure, law firms often feature highly on lists of family-friendly employers thanks to flexible working and parental leave policies.

A host of legal employers made Working Families’ list of top family employers in 2020, including Norton Rose Fulbright, DAC Beachcroft, Pinsent Masons and Mishcon de Reya.

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