Linklaters pilots revolutionary 40 hour week
21 April 2017
is piloting a mould-breaking new career path which allows its lawyers to work a maximum 40-hour week.
The scheme, called 'YourLink', is being piloted in the Linklaters German offices from 1 May and is open to any level of qualification from NQs to senior associates. YourLinkers will work a 40 hour week with pre-agreed clocking in and clocking off times, and unless they are the only person who knows where the body is buried, they will not be expected to check emails or take calls out of hours.
Naturally there is a price for a civilised 9-6 life, with newly-qualified German participants receiving a paypacket of €80,000 instead of €120,000. Payrises will also be smaller than for lawyers on the marriage-dissolving standard career track, and the YourLink promotion path tops out at Counsel. Pay is less “because we wanted to acknowledge the extra availability and responsibility that lawyers on the classic track have to show
,” German HR head Thomas Schmidt told The Lawyer. “On the other hand, we do want the salary to compete with in-house positions of big companies like Deutsche Bank, Siemens or Lufthansa that might offer similar working patterns
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The firm estimates that 20% of Linklaters solicitors could end up as YouLinkers, though whether a stellar client list will be sufficient to prevent converts from simply moving to a smaller firm which offers a similar work/life balance and salary remains to be seen. However, in a profession plagued by horrible working hours, it appears to be a serious effort to remedy what is, along with poor partnership prospects, the biggest reason solicitors leave biglaw. As lawyers from a variety of heavy-hitting firms revealed
in the RollOnFriday Firm of the Year 2017 survey, the problem is acute:
- "Nobody ever has time to go for a drink outside of work, because invariably no one can get away from work at a decent time."
- "So much work! Weekends are now a thing of the past. SoS."
- "Work-life balance varies but when its bad, its BAD. My team is currently living in fear about being staffed on one particular matter."
- "Have you ever had to cancel a holiday while you were on the holiday?"
- "Expectation to be available at any time. Working every weekend considered normal. Not going home for 4 day commonplace."
- "Long, long hours. The firm doesn't respect holidays and you will regularly be required to work whilst on holiday, or cancel the holiday altogether."
- "Advice to new joiners/trainees - consider whether the money is worth having to be constantly available and phenomenally responsive at all times."
Linklaters' London office is peering across the sea with interest. A spokeswoman told RollOnFriday, "We are treating the German 40-hour week model as a pilot to understand how it works and how it might be adopted in other markets
". With the prospect of a good six figure salary and evenings with loved ones if it works, plenty of City lawyers will also be watching.