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Take Two: Computerworld Article on ROI From Work Life Balance Programs

Scales On Monday, we blogged about an excellent article in Computerworld entitled Work Life Balance: What's It Worth?, which discusses the business case for work life balance programs such as flexible work schedules, telecommuting, and job sharing. While the article focused on the IT industry, we argued that its message was equally pertinent to the legal industry.

In a thoughtful response, Stephen Seckler, publisher of the Counsel to Counsel blog, observed that implementing work life balance programs in the legal industry might pose special issues given that the attorney/client relationship is often quite personal in nature, and that clients who are paying top dollar usually want quick access to their attorneys when needed.

We think these are excellent points - ultimately, law is a service business, and therefore client service cannot be sacrificed on the altar of work life balance - anyone who differs had best not practice law since they won't have many clients.  On the other hand, new technologies offer opportunities to develop flexible working arrangements that let lawyers have a life while still delivering great service to their clients.

Take webcasting. This technology has reached the stage where an attorney can conference and interact with colleagues, clients and/or adversaries around the globe from the comfort of a home office (in his or her slippers if desired). 

Or image scanning, which allows documents to be scanned as searchable PDFs, and viewed in their original state on a computer screen. Which means lawyers don't necessarily have to come into the office just to access files.

And no reputable lawyer would be caught dead without their Blackberry ; - ).

Of course, there is no substitute to meeting face-to-face to close a deal, or to prepare a witness for trial. Still, if firms want to retain talent, they need to start thinking out-of-the-box in terms of using technology to develop flexible work arrangements that deliver balance without sacrificing service. 

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