Click the title to this post to read a New York Times article dated 1/24/2008, by Lisa Belkin, on changes in law firm employment practices, responding to the wave of depressed lawyers leaving the firm world:
Over the last few years and, most strikingly, the last few months, law firms have been forced to rethink longstanding ways of doing business, if they are to remain fully competitive.The real crux of the "movement" is doing away with the billable hour. The ABA Journal ran an article in August, 2007, with front page highlights, on the death of the billable hour here. The article is well worth reading in full, with lots of info on different models at different firms. Standing firmly on the sidelines, where I happily moved in 1986, in order to have time to be a mom, I am cheering!
As chronicled by my colleague Alex Williams in the Sunday Styles section earlier this month, lawyers are overworked, depressed and leaving.
Less obvious, but potentially more dramatic, are the signs that their firms are finally becoming serious about slowing the stampede for the door. So far the change — which includes taking fresh looks at the billable hour, schedules and partnership tracks — is mostly at the smaller firms. But even some of the larger, more hidebound employers are taking notice.
“There are things happening everywhere, enough to call it a movement,” said Deborah Epstein Henry, who founded Flex-Time Lawyers, a consulting firm that creates initiatives encouraging work-life balance for law firms, with an emphasis on the retention and promotion of women. “The firms don’t think of it as a movement, because it is happening in isolation, one firm at a time. But if you step back and see the whole puzzle, there is definitely real change.”