People are always talking about work/life balance at large law firms as if such a thing truly exists. For some associates, it does. They can go out and have a baby, “have a baby,” and do whatever it is they so please in their limited free time. For others, it’s a completely different story. They’re the first ones at the office and the last ones to leave. When they do go home, it’s to look at their family in passing or check their OKCupid accounts with a sigh, sleep for a few hours, take a shower, and put on a different suit. These associates have no lives, and it’s all thanks to their work.
Now, perhaps for the benefit of associates without lives, in the interest of work/life balance, this Biglaw firm is making it possible for its associates and counsel to do even more work than they already do…
The law firm in question is Ropes & Gray. It seems that Ropes will be supplying its associates with a fleet of “at-home and on-the-road support that surpasses that of many of [its] peer firms.” Oooh, that sounds like it could be fancy. Here’s the relevant part of the message that associates received last week from Jane Williamson, the firm’s Director of Attorney Development and Career Planning:
Activity at the firm has been increasing, and we know you are all working extremely hard. The firm is grateful for your hard work and we want to do whatever we reasonably can to make sure you have a healthy work/life balance and that you’re supported in your effort to serve clients.
In particular, we know that from time to time, many of you find it necessary or more convenient to work from home and while commuting. With this in mind, we want to make sure you have the technology support you need to do so. Effective September 1, the firm will make the following equipment available, upon request, to 3rd year associates and above, and counsel:
· A second monitor for home use so that you can produce and compare documents as easily at home as you do in the office.
· A docking station so that you can use an external monitor with your firm-issued laptop.
· An “Always On” phone, so that you can work and arrange conference calls from home without inconveniencing clients. The supply of these phones will be somewhat limited (see below), and they will not be generally available until the fall or early next year.
The firm will also be expanding the pool of firm-owned wireless cards for use by all associates and counsel who need them while traveling or commuting.
Sorry, junior associates, but all of these cool new perks don’t apply to you. For everyone else, now you can ignore your family while you’re in the same house. Ain’t life grand? As Biglaw associates, you need to cherish the little things in life, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.
Let’s be honest: if you’re going into Biglaw, long hours are inevitable. The least a firm can do is let you work as efficiently and comfortably as possible, wherever you may be. Kudos to Ropes & Gray for what one of our tipsters praised as a “pretty awesome move” on the firm’s part. Maybe more firms will follow suit.
UPDATE (5:15 p.m.): Ropes recently finished near the top of Vault’s list of the best law firms to work for, so it’s not surprising to see them take such a forward-thinking approach to supporting their associates.
(The full memo can be found on the next page if you’re interested in reading it.)