Flexible Work Arrangements Are All The Rage: Even Law Firms Are Joining The Party.

by Amy Nassisi

Benefits of the Flexible Arrangement to the Company
By all accounts, Morrison & Foerster’s reputation for supporting flexibility was critical in attracting Alison to the firm, though she didn’t have children at the time. When Alison, who had clerked for the Supreme Court and worked as a trial attorney in the District Attorney’s office, selected a firm from a number of suitors, an outstanding commercial litigation practice and the ability to participate fully on a flexible schedule were two key criteria. It’s also clear in talking with Alison that Morrison & Foerster’s commitment to her flexible arrangement has been instrumental in retaining and motivating this top litigator. Having been promoted to Partner while she was on 80% time, Alison is not only one of the firm’s top litigators, she’s one of their biggest champions. According to others at the firm, Alison’s situation and others like hers are motivating for the entire staff, as they send a clear signal that valuing family is not a barrier to success at Morrison & Foerster.

Motivation for Flex Career
Alison’s motivation for working a reduced schedule will be familiar to many. With two small children and a husband who is also a top litigator (working a full time schedule), she needed to create more flexibility in her schedule to spend time with their children. Alison felt that 80% time would allow her to participate fully as a litigator, successfully handling meaty projects, while offering the quality of life that she needed for her family.

How it Works
Alison is a full partner at Morrison & Foerster, but works an 80% schedule, which means that she is accountable for 80% of the billable and non-billable hours targets that are set for the firm’s partners. Consequently, she receives 80% of her full-time compensation.

Because of the nature of litigation work, Alison doesn’t manage an 80% schedule on a daily or weekly basis, but keeps to 80% over the course of the quarter or the year. And with the unpredictability of litigation work, she readily admits that it is a constant challenge to maintain balance in her schedule. She credits technology with offering her a great deal of flexibility even in meeting pressing deadlines, by allowing her to head home for dinner and then access her files and work from home after her children are in bed.

Alison handles complex commercial litigation for a number of Morrison & Foerster’s top clients, at the trial and appellate level. She has defended high-technology companies in major patent litigation, represented a satellite television company pursuing antitrust claims, filed briefs in the United States Supreme Court, and freed a man wrongfully convicted of murder.

Company Culture

Good luck to the mammas who think this is a reality! I've known a lot of women who have approached their bosses or companies about creating a flex agreement and NONE OF THEM were able to negotiate at all. They've found other places that offer it but creating a flex agreement after you've had a standard job for a while is an uphill battle.