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Law Firms and Work/Life Balance

Posted by Alex Palmer on October 10, 2008

By Alexandra Haake

As companies continue to hand out the pink slips in an effort to reduce costs and weather the economic storm, they are also looking at conventional, and not so conventional, ways in the case of law firms to retain top talent. An article in today's Los Angeles Times depicts another tale in the saga of women's choice: pursue a successful career or raise a family?

Law firms are generally slow to change their corporate culture, stigmatized as requiring excruciatingly long hours of dedication and for their boy’s club practices of cigars, brandy and client schmoozing. The article points out that in the past two decades women comprised almost half of all law school graduates and half of the new hires at the country’s largest firms. Almost just as many (42 percent) leave their legal professions mid-career—believing that it’s impossible to reconcile the concepts of advancing into higher echelons of the legal field and raising a family. As a result, only 16 percent of equity partners throughout the country are women, and even less are in the top management positions.

Firms should really be making a bigger effort to retain their talented female workforce, if for no other reason than to help their bottom line. The article notes that a firm can lose anywhere from $200,000 to $500,000 when a second year associate leaves the job. Managers should understand the cost involved with hiring and training, even if it necessitates undoing preconceived notions of a particular line of work. An effective way to do this is by providing an incentive package that is both a well-deserved perk and a clear message that says, “we want you, and we will adapt our conventional business practices to accommodate you and your family.”

We all know that benefits such as flex-time and paid maternity (and even paternity!) leave have ushered in a new era of improved work-life balance…and let’s not forget to hail the Blackberry for allowing us to leave our desks and still be available. Perhaps the most interesting point of this article, though, was the idea that the clients are the ones pushing for more flexible work arrangements because they are aware of the importance of a well-represented team. “There’s nothing more insulting to a jury than seeing a woman there only to carry a briefcase.” If nothing else but to attract and appease clients, there are ways to transform business culture into a more family-friendly one without sacrificing the core values of your business.

It's All About Relationships

Posted by Stacy Straczynski on October 08, 2008

By Terry Epton, Incentive online columnist

We Met in a Raucous Pub in Dublin...

This past week, I was pleased to spend time with one such friend while in Chicago at the Motivation Show. Eugene DeVilliers was born and raised in South Africa, schooled in France and now resides in Auckland, New Zealand.  He is an incentive company owner in New Zealand, Australia, Singapore and India. He is one of my closest friends. Several years ago we met in a Dublin pub that was as colorful as all Ireland. If I recall correctly, it was named Rosie’s and it was loud, smoky and a true slice of authentic Dublin. I had just finished taking my exam for the CITE certification and I needed a beer. I remember thinking the place was too good to be true...I also wondered if I might perhaps wind up leaving with a black eye! I struck up a conversation with a rather big guy who looked to be friendly and we shared some pints of beer. It turned out that we were both staying at the same hotel and left the pub to head back together. As I started to look for a taxi, Eugene found a limousine and offered me a ride. He just commandeered a limo like it was the natural thing to do. As I suspected, it turned out he was in Ireland for the SITE International Conference, as I was. We found ourselves hanging out together at the conference and even joining in a “Yard of Beer” contest, which Eugene had little trouble winning. Eugene is one of the smartest, wisest people I know. Not in a million years would we have met if it were not for the incentive industry.

Where Are We?

Posted by Stacy Straczynski on October 02, 2008

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Do you recognize this destination? (Click on the image to see an enlarged photo.)

E-mail jennifer.juergens@incentivemag.com with your answer, and be entered into a drawing for a $50 American Express gift card.

Our September picture featured Bocas del Toro in Panama. Some guesses were close, but no one got it quite right last month!