I therefore read with interest two articles published in our own professional magazine, the Law Society Gazette on this very issue this week. It is quite clear that as lawyers we do not all practice what we preach and there remains issues in the profession.
One such piece of research from the Black Solicitors Network’s Diversity League showed that 56% of associate in firms are female but this drops to just 27% at partner level. One lawyer who made the move in-house from private practice says that one of the biggest barriers to partnership for women in law firms is the absence of flexible working. That too many firms pay lip service to having a flexible working policy yet don’t have the culture to match.
Interesting then to turn the page to find that further research has been commissioned by Fletcher Day amongst lawyers working for larger law firms. 95% of those surveyed worked in firms with a headcount of 100+ lawyers. This research concluded that law firms accept requests reluctantly and that those that make the requests have concerns that they will be poorly supported or that it will damage their career. 88% of those surveyed would like to see more flexibility within firms and 66% believed support staff have more flexibility. By more than 3:1 lawyers believe that making a request could potentially affect career progression in the future and only 21% of those surveyed had made a request in the last 12 months.
Given the technology changes over the past few years it is perhaps no wonder that many turn to the rising model of the virtual law firm.