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The Changing Workplace - Are Law Firms Ready?

David_shawFive years ago, David Shaw left his position as president of $1 billion/year Pepsi-Cola Canada Beverages to found Toronto-based Knightsbridge Human Capital Solutions. His motivation was what he warns is a coming "tsunami" in the workplace over the next decade as the majority of baby boomers begin retiring, and the newest generation of employees places an increasing premium on work-life balance. He believes these trends will force employers to radically adjust their recruitment and retention strategies in order to avoid labor shortages.

In a recent article in Canada's The Globe and Mail, Shaw praises companies that have spotted this critical human resource issue and taken steps to address it. Case in point: Best Buy with its revolutionary "results-only work environment" ("ROWE") (profiled on the cover of Business Week) under which an employee's performance is judged exclusively on output rather than the number of hours spent in the office (see our prior post on ROWE here).

In contrast, Shaw predicts that employers unwilling to accommodate the needs of their employees will most likely suffer from labor shortages in the coming years.

See the full article here.

It's well known that associates (and even partners) at many large law firms are chafing under the burden of long hours at the office, and "voting with their feet" as attorney attrition rates continue to reach all-time highs. However, only a trickle of major firms have institutionalized the kind of alternative working arrangements such as flexible hours, telecommuting, and job sharing that would address the problem.

How heavily will demographic trends and changing workplace attitudes impact law firms in the next decade? How should they cope? We invite comments.

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