Ditch cameras on night-time video calls and no need to check emails more than twice a day at weekends, Slaughters tells lawyers in wellbeing push

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By William Holmes on


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Magic Circle law firm Slaughter and May has launched a new ‘Working Practices Code’ with the aim of rectifying “unnecessary incursions” into their lawyers’ downtime.

Among the new policies are allowing those on video calls to turn off their cameras between the hours of 8pm and 8am and setting limits on the times when emails should be checked.

The FT (£) reports that Slaughters’ lawyers will not be required to check emails more than once on a Friday evening and more than a couple of times on Saturday and Sunday, unless work demands, and not between 10pm and 8am on a working day “unless you are working on a matter/s where you consider that to be necessary”.

However, the 37-point code recognises a further caveat to the new limits placed on checking emails: “for this to work, you need to be reachable by phone”.

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One associate at the Magic Circle law firm told the FT:

“Ultimately, the client comes first. We’re a bit like a five-star hotel. We’re very expensive… [clients know] that if you call room service at 2am for a sundae, you’ll get one.”

A Slaughters partner, however, lamented the absence of a “demarcation” in people’s days during the pandemic. “The more junior people just didn’t know when to stop… We sometimes need to empower people to behave like normal human beings and have their own expectations of a life.”

Senior partner Steve Cooke commented: “The need for the Code became clear during the conversations we had as part of the Associate Review earlier this year where, after a period of intense home working, the unnecessary incursions people were experiencing into their downtime periods were more pronounced. The Code attempts to rectify that with some simple principles”.

Efforts to improve the work-life balance of its lawyers follows pay rises for newly qualified associated back in May which saw base rates increase from £107,500 to £115,000. In June, the firm also inaugurated its first ‘Bring your Dog to Work Day’, allowing its lawyers to bring their dogs to work for the first time in an effort to boost morale and alleviate stress.

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