Selected lawyers at magic circle firm Clifford Chance will be offered the chance to apply for two months’ unpaid leave as part of a new commitment to flexible working. 

Starting this week, the firm will launch a pilot programme for eligible lawyers to apply to take time off in the 2019/2020 financial year.  Associates and senior associates in Spain, Italy and Istanbul will be able to apply to take the sabbatical, as well as three groups in London: finance practice, capital markets and TMT. 

Clifford Chance will also create a new option for its former lawyers to apply to work as part of teams on specific projects, with the option to work flexibly and from home where appropriate. 

The projects are being tested under the umbrella of Clifford Chance Choice, as the firm becomes the latest City heavyweight to adapt the way it operates for a changing workforce and clientele. Laura King, partner and global head of people and talent, said the firm will tap into its 8,000 registered alumni working in more than 3,000 organisations across 100 countries.  

She said: ‘Clifford Chance Choice is about embracing changes to the world of work. It gives our people the choice to excel in work but also pursue other interests.  It gives our alumni the choice to remain a part of the Clifford Chance family after they move on to other things. And it gives our clients the choice of a wider and flexible pool of motivated, brilliant lawyers.’ 

The firm will not create a standalone consultancy service, as has happened at other City firms, but instead will use its existing platforms for its former lawyers to have another career option. Clifford Chance alumni will be given another avenue to develop their career in a familiar environment, while clients can access a greater array of advisers, particularly at times of high demand. Specific opportunities will be advertised later this spring. 

Several leading firms have embraced flexible working in recent years, giving staff the choice about where they work and encouraging them to leave the office if tasks have been completed.