Law firm extends opening hours after staff move to four-day week

Billy Smith and Emma King

A Scottish law firm has extended its opening hours after most of its staff moved to working a four-day week, the latest to experiment with this new way of working.

Emma King, co-founder and director of Complete Clarity Solicitors, said 70% of staff wanted to work extra hours for four days a week when they were offered a choice at the end of last year.

Ms King said that for those working for four days under a six-month trial launched last month, total working hours and salaries remain unchanged.

“As a profession, we are accustomed to the concept that we have to work extremely long hours. I don’t think those coming into the profession expect or should expect this. I think we can do better.”

It remains very unusual for UK law firms to allow staff to work four days a week. Portcullis Legals, an unregulated wills and probate firm in Plymouth made headlines around the world in 2019, when it introduced a four-day week, increased salaries and reduced working hours.

JMK Solicitors, a personal injury firm in Northern Ireland, introduced a four-day week in 2020, followed by two family law firms in England last year – Collective Law Solicitors in Birmingham and Southgate Solicitors in North London.

Ms King said she was not aware of any other law firm in Scotland where staff worked four days a week.

She said Complete Clarity, based in Glasgow, operated on a dual branding basis with Simplicity Legal – both have the same staff and are trading names of the same company.

Complete Clarity Solicitors was launched in 2010, and Simplicity Legal, which it established in 2015 with the aim of filling a gap in the market for fixed-fee family law work. Two years later the firms merged. They offer the full range of civil law services.

The law firm has 35 staff, four of whom joined on a part-time basis this year and are not eligible to join the pilot.

The firm held a consultation in December and 22 out of 31 eligible members of staff opted to work for four days a week. This included Ms King and co-founder and director of the firm Billy Smith.

“We did a lot of planning for this, and considered offering it only to certain roles,” Ms King said. “Our approach is to allow everyone to operate as the best version of themselves, and limiting this to certain people did not sit comfortably with that.

“The consultation actually gave us the best outcome, because not everybody chose to work four days. This meant we could stay open five days a week and provide clients with enhanced coverage from Tuesday to Thursday.”

Following the consultation, Ms King said those who opted into the scheme were divided in half and offered the chance either to work from Monday to Thursday, like her, or Tuesday to Friday, like Mr Smith.

In both cases, staff work extended hours, from 8am to 6pm, on Tuesday to Thursday, and from 8am to 5pm on either Monday or Friday. The law firm is open from 8am to 6pm from Tuesday to Thursday and 9am to 5pm on Monday and Friday.

Ms King added: “I am loving the flexibility this gives me. I value my work/life balance very highly.”

She said the feedback from staff was equally positive, with the choice they were given at the start of the process an important factor. “Everyone has adapted very well.”

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