The Kinder, Gentler Law Firm? Trends to Emulate

When you think of words to describe a law firm's culture, what comes to mind? Formal? Competitive? Not so, say attorneys. When surveyed recently about their work environments, the top adjectives used were "team oriented" (76 percent), "family friendly" (36 percent) and "casual" (30 percent).

The survey was developed by Robert Half Legal, and was conducted by an independent research firm and includes responses from 100 attorneys among the nation's 1,000 largest law firms in the United States and Canada.

Attorneys were asked, "Which two of the following adjectives best describe your law firm's culture?" Their responses:

Team oriented 76%
Family friendly 36%
Casual 30%
Fast paced 26%
Competitive 24%
Formal 4%
Academic 3%

"Managing cases has always required collaboration among lawyers because of the scope and complexity of the work.

One difference today is that a broader range of legal professionals are actively involved," said Charles Volkert, executive director of Robert Half Legal. "Paralegals, for instance, are handling more billable tasks and assuming responsibilities previously held by attorneys, such as conducting preliminary research and preparing legal documents."

Volkert added, "Greater work/life balance is a priority for employees in all professions, and many law firms are responding by reassessing their corporate cultures and providing family-friendly benefits and a more relaxed atmosphere at the office."

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