Allen & Overy to allow partners to work part-time to address gender imbalance

Law firm Allen & Overy is set to allow partners to work part-time, the biggest attempt yet by a City law firm to address the gender imbalance among senior roles in the legal profession.

The new scheme will be available to all partners globally from May, when partners will be able to work either a minimum four-day week or increase their holiday entitlement to up to 52 days each year on top of the regular six weeks’ leave partners are entitled to, according to Legal Week.

The flexible working scheme, already open to junior members of staff, has been piloted over the past year with three partners. A further two partners are understood to wish to take up the scheme when it launches later this year.

HR director Genevieve Tennant said: “We have taken a top-down approach to ensure that this is a workable and partner-supported policy. While a key objective is to aid the retention of our talented female associates, it’s important to stress that these solutions are open to all, irrespective of gender.”

Four in 10 lawyers at the law firm, but only 16% of partners, are female.

Senior partner David Morley added: “Back in May 2008, I made it clear that increasing the number of women was a key strategic goal.

“If you want to have a sea change, you must start from the top. You have to change the way the partnership works. We felt that it was important to give the most talented female associates the aspiration to make it into the partnership.”

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