A Softer Side?

Two recent items about “work/life balance” that were in the news caught my eye. First, Balch & Bingham, an Atlanta-based firm, is allowing staff to work four 10 hour days. For a temporary period of time, staff can choose to take off Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. This came about when the managing partner overheard a secretary asking to leave early so she could get in line at a gas station. The managing partner says that this just makes sense right now “from an efficiency and productivity standpoint.” ABAJournal

Second, Calfee Halter & Griswold in Cleveland just announced that they will be providing a wide range of services to firm personnel as part of a new program called Calfee Lifestyle Resources. Employees will pay for the goods and services and the firm will cover the delivery costs. The services include grocery and prepared-meal delivery, dry-cleaning, shoe repair, fitness classes, office organizational consulting, and stamps. Calfee’s managing partner states that “Calfee Lifestyle Resources is a way for the firm to give “the gift of time” to those who might put in 60 to 90 hours a week.” He goes on to say that, “if things aren’t getting done at home, I’m distracted at work. If I’m happy, I’m going to be more productive.” Cleveland.com

I think that both of these programs are commendable. They demonstrate that a law firm can respond to the needs of its employees and fashion solutions that make their lives easier. From a cynical standpoint, one could say that “self-interest” (e.g. more time at work billing clients) is the only motivating factor, but I think we need look beyond that. Law firms are for-profit businesses, and every decision is made to further the business, from cleaning the carpets to providing extra services to employees. So let’s not look a gift horse in the mouth, and instead hope that other firm’s follow these examples.

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