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Written by Norman Clark
Published: 03 October 2014
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directional signs: one pointing to order and one to chaos

What if your managing partner announced that lawyers in your firm were required to work only three days per week and could take unlimited holidays?

Today's on-line issue of The Lawyer leads with an article about a law firm, Mishcon de Reya, that is doing just that.  What would be the reaction of partners in your firm?

According to the article in The Lawyer,  Mishcon's managing partner, Kevin Gold, has done just that.  Lawyers in the London-based international firm, with 102 partners, are now required to work only three days per week and may take unlimited holidays.

To many olders lawyers, especially, for whom "work ethic" has become an addicting and potentially lethal substance, this is innovation on steroids.  Upon further reflection, even the most productivity-driven partner would probably conclude that something like this could be a long-overdue improvement in most law firms. 

Once people work through an emotional reaction to what appears to be a radical innovation, and begin to consider it rationally, a lot of "wild ideas" begin to make good business sense.  Kevin Gold is quoted in The Lawyer as observing that these changes did not meet much resistance:

“These are lifestyle choices and it’s about creating a flexible workforce that the organisation serves and that serves the organisation too. I thought I’d have big resistance from the board and the partnership but I had very easy take up.”

Innovations such as these are not a matter of altruism or "waving a magic wand" and hoping for the best.  Successful innovation requires careful planning and, above all, a good business case.  All of these are strongly suggested by the new Mishcon de Reya policy, coming as they do as an almost-natural development in a series of major changes in the firm, including, most recently, conversion from a general partnership to an LLP, restructuring of the partnership to make all partners equity partners, and office consolidation in London.

Implementing innovations and managing the changes that they require are not easy.  Walker Clark members have decades of experience in introducing innovations and managing change in the legal profession.  Regardless of the size of your firm, and whether you think of your partners as skeptical traditionalists or paradigm-smashing innovators, we can work with you, as part of your team, to manage a change process from first plans through successful results.  We can help you to achieve a strong positive return on your investment (including your investment in our services and support).

For more information contact Lisa Walker Johnson by e-mail or by telephone at +1.305.432.9860 (extension 101).

Norman Clark