The Association of Corporate Counsel is hoping a new study on work-life balance will shed light on how important flexibility in the workplace can be, for both attorneys and the companies that employ them.
Work-life balance is a trending topic in today’s workforce, even among legal professionals, who are known for clocking long hours.
A new study from the Association of Corporate Counsel, for example, found that greater flexibility can often make or break an in-house counselor’s decision to remain with an organization or move on.
This finding from the “2014 Global Work-Life Balance Report” has implications for both attorneys and their employers, which is exactly why ACC conducted the research.
“We wanted to see what the challenges are with retaining talented attorneys,” said James Merklinger, vice president and general counsel at ACC. “Our members value talent, and what we’ve seen is as the world becomes smaller with the global economy, there’s a lot of competition for getting good attorneys working in in-house positions.”
In the survey of 2,000 international attorneys, 55 percent of respondents reported work-life balance was a large factor in their decision to choose an in-house position as opposed to working in a solo practice or law firm. It also found that 36 percent of in-house attorneys have considered looking for different roles or a different company in anticipation of parental or caregiving responsibilities.
Although almost 10 million adult children age 50 and older are caring for aging parents, according to MetLife, employers aren’t always aware of an employee’s caregiving responsibilities, Merklinger said. “We realized that this could be a roadblock for some people.”
The study identified some of the industries (technology, compliance and ethics, real estate, and employment and labor) in which in-house lawyers are more likely to search for another role when they expect an increase in caregiving or parenting responsibilities. It also broke down the role gender plays.
“We found that a higher percentage of men are more comfortable leaving work for a few hours to take care of a caregiver need than women,” said Merklinger.
He added that the study aims to open the discussion around these topics in order to find solutions and identify more flexible work options that benefit employees and employers. For companies, it’s ultimately about the bottom line.
“It costs tens of thousands of dollars to train and bring staff on over the life of an employee,” Merklinger said. “You don’t want to start over as soon as someone has a change in life circumstances because you don’t offer flexibility.”