Act to halt female brain drain, law firms warned

An HR director has called on legal firms to adopt family-friendly policies
to avoid losing expensively trained female lawyers.

Warren Green, director of human resources at recruitment consultancy EJ
Legal, said, "It costs a small fortune to train a lawyer – and to replace
one that leaves.

"If female lawyers leave firms because they cannot balance working and
family life, it is the profession that will lose out."

Green was commenting on a survey commissioned by EJ Legal. It found a
discrepancy between the number of hours solicitors say they are working and the
hours HR managers think they are working.

The average number of hours worked by solicitors each week is 47, although
HR managers put the figure at 39. The survey questioned 50 HR managers and 50
solicitors in the top 100 law firms.

Forty-nine per cent of solicitors said they would like their employer to be
more sympathetic to parental leave.

HR managers expressed concern about the administration of parental leave but
70 per cent said they believed companies would be forced to adapt.

A further 60 per cent of HR managers said they were concerned about stress
caused by staff working long hours.

Green added, "If firms can adapt to a family-friendly culture and use
flexible working practices, they can increase both productivity and staff
retention."

• A survey commissioned by Mother and Baby magazine found 81 per cent of new
mothers would choose to stay at home with their child if they could afford to
do so. Eighty-two per cent said they also felt having a baby had damaged their
careers.

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