A Glasgow-based law firm has introduced a four-day week for its staff, in a bid to improve their work-life balance and productivity. Complete Clarity Solicitors and Simplicity Legal, which specialises in fixed fee family law work, is currently testing a condensed week model, where staff can choose to take Mondays or Fridays off.
A progressive move for the legal sector
The firm, which was founded by Co-Founder and Director Billy Smith 14 years ago, has a core policy that colleague wellbeing is a primary component of commercial and professional success. The firm believes that by offering a four-day week option, it is giving its staff the maximum opportunity for achieving the best work-life balance that they can.
The move is likely to be controversial in a profession in which hours are traditionally long and demand-led, but it is also in tune with growing campaigns for change, which claim that a four-day week reduces burnout while also generating higher performance and profit for firms.
Co-Founder and fellow solicitor Emma King said: “We are rolling it out now and will trial it for six months. So far, response has been overwhelmingly positive. Of the 31 staff eligible to opt in to the scheme, 22 have taken up the option of joining – that’s 71% of the workforce.
“It doesn’t suit everybody, of course, but from a business perspective it also allows us to enhance client services by offering extended opening hours, and we’re now operating from 8am to 6pm Tuesday to Thursday.”
How the four-day week works
Instead of working five days a week from 9am to 5pm, staff can now work from 8am to 6pm from Tuesday to Thursday and from 8am to 5pm on either Monday or Friday, creating a full day off. The firm says that this does not affect the quality or quantity of work, as staff are still working a similar number of hours, but in a more flexible and efficient way.
Staff who have opted in to the scheme have expressed their satisfaction with the new arrangement, saying that it allows them to spend more time with their family, friends, hobbies, and personal tasks. Some of the benefits they have reported include:
- Having a Friday off means I don’t have to fit other commitments into my evenings. I hope to use the time to spend more time with family and get chores done to free–up my weekend. (Senior Solicitor Susan Grierson-Rattray)
- The day off will allow me to spend time with family and take them for any shopping they need, particularly in winter weather. It will also be a good use of time to catch up on things in the house. (Associate Solicitor Kara MacGregor-Duke)
- I plan to use the time to go to the gym, play golf and catch up with friends. (Senior Solicitor Scott Stevenson)
- I’m looking forward to being able to fully enjoy both days at the weekend and spend my Mondays off doing my more mundane life tasks. (Solicitor Morgan Perrie)
A response to the changing needs of the profession
The importance of job satisfaction was illustrated by a recent Law Society report called Profile of the Profession which revealed that 42% of lawyers had considered leaving the profession for reasons other than retirement – and 45% aspire to a better work-life balance.
Complete Clarity Solicitors and Simplicity Legal has been performing well in excess of expectation, driven by the culture which it has consciously developed in recent years and also by structural changes to its commercial activities. The firm has established a system of attracting talent from non-traditional routes, typically hiring diploma students and bringing them on to be legal assistants, then trainees before fully qualifying as solicitors.
The firm has also promoted four experienced solicitors to more senior roles in the past year, demonstrating its commitment to career development and progression. The firm has a headcount of 25, including 12 qualified solicitors and 3 trainee solicitors, and a four-strong client services team whose activities have been critical in supporting the most recent fee performance.
The firm hopes that by pioneering a four-day week in the legal sector, it will set an example for other firms to follow, and show that a more balanced and flexible approach to work can benefit both staff and clients.