New family law firm commits to four-day working week

Siddique: Taking Friday off work gives me a balanced lifestyle

The founder of a new family law firm has said she works a four-day week and will be recruiting staff to work in the same way.

Sana Siddique said that although the unpredictable nature of family law made it harder in a way to work for four days, its “emotionally draining” nature made it more important to have a break.

Ms Siddique said she did not know of any other law firm where staff worked four days a week, though some had reduced the working week of employees to the equivalent of four days by trimming their hours each day.

Her commitment comes in the week that a six-month trial of the four-day week by more than 60 UK companies reported encouraging results.

Meanwhile, Plymouth wills and probate business Portcullis Legals, an unregulated legal services provider based in Plymouth, adopted a four-day working week in 2019, attracting worldwide media coverage. JMK Solicitors, a large personal injury firm in Northern Ireland, made the move in 2020.

Ms Siddique, who currently runs Collective Law Solicitors as a sole practice with her husband providing administrative support, said the firm has been closed on Fridays from the start, apart from court appointments and urgent meetings, which could take place remotely in the morning.

The need to sometimes work on Fridays reflected that the firm was still in its early days, she added. “Starting a new business is far from easy and there is so much to do.”

All clients were aware that the firm was closed on Fridays, but Ms Siddique said it had an emergency phone line, which was always open out of hours.

When a first staff member is recruited later this year, they will be offered a flexible four-day week, which would not require them to be take Fridays.

“Taking Friday off work gives me a balanced lifestyle. I am a Muslim and Friday prayers are important to me, but that may not be the case for other people we recruit.”

Ms Siddique set up Collective Law in August last year, having been head of a family department at a law firm in Telford, Shropshire. She qualified as a solicitor six years before.

Collective Law has two offices in Birmingham, one in the city centre and another in the neighbouring Jewellery Quarter.

“From my own experience as a solicitor, I was not allowed any opportunity for hybrid working. I was not able to work remotely even for one or two days a week.

“The rest of the team and the other staff were not allowed to do any hybrid working either, which resulted in quite a high turnover, particularly after Covid. People want more flexibility.”

Ms Siddique said that she hoped her firm would expand from next year, both through recruitment and new offices in the West Midlands, while remaining the sole principal.

She said the name ‘Collective Law’ was chosen to emphasise the law firm’s focus on collaborative work with clients, aiming to remove “hostility and animosity” from family law.

“In a way it’s harder to have a four-day week in a family law firm, because you really do not know what is coming through the door every day.

“However, the nature of family law is so emotionally draining, regardless of what level you are working at, it’s important to have a proper break.”

“I’m not worried about this affecting business at all. I genuinely believe it will in fact boost business because everyone is happier and more productive overall.

“I would rather have people turn up to work eager and keen to work rather than turning up deflated and struggling to get motivated because they don’t have any time in life for themselves.”

The UK pilot – conducted in the UK by non-profit 4 Day Week Global, the UK’s 4 Day Week Campaign and think-tank Autonomy – guided over 60 companies and almost 3,000 workers through the trial, with no loss of pay for workers.

Some 91% of participants said they were definitely continuing or planning to continue with the four-day week post-trial, and a further 4% “leaning” towards doing so. Only 4% of participants were definitely not continuing.

Companies rated their overall experience of the trials an average of 8.5/10, with business productivity and business performance each scoring 7.5/10. Revenue rose by 35% over the trial periods when compared to similar periods from the previous year, and hiring increased while absenteeism decreased.

Researchers said the health and wellbeing of employees also improved.

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