The competitive advantage of a workaholic practice is presumed, but rarely calculated
Long hours are deeply ingrained in the culture of legal services. In all shapes of practice, they have long been the assumed norm.
Practices have changed a little here, as this week’s feature on the subject notes, but too often there is a choice to be made between ambition on the one hand, and flexible working on the other. A growing number of ambitious people have the confidence to leave on the dot to spend a little time on their home life, but they also then turn on the home laptop and unload a briefcase at 9pm. Could it be different? Lawyers will always face client emergencies, but the situation could surely be improved a great deal.
The willingness of lawyers to provide those hours, at a personal cost to their physical and mental health, family life, holiday plans and so on ad infinitum, allows clients, and more often practice managers, to ignore the importance of project- and forward-planning.
They can also ignore questions relating to whether they have properly resourced a matter - all unprofessional and uncommercial traits, but somehow tolerated. So client push-back on a new way of working is assumed, but rarely tested. The competitive advantage of a workaholic practice is presumed, but rarely calculated.
It seems odd that this is the one challenge that highly intelligent professionals so consistently place in the box marked ‘too difficult’.