Regular readers of The Lawyer cannot have failed to notice the increasing number of articles detailing the high turnover and poor morale among assistant solicitors within private practice. It is clear to me and, I believe, many others that the primary cause is the excessively long hours that some are expected to work on a regular basis.
I was also interested in an article in a recent edition of The Lawyer (6 October), stating that most law firms will have asked their assistants solicitors to opt out en masse from the working time regulations.
I am disappointed that by taking the easy option, law firms are maintaining the status quo. They are missing a wonderful opportunity to put aside the all-consuming drive for profits and, instead, recognise that working exceptionally long hours is mentally and physically unhealthy for employees and does impact on the equality of work that is produced.
I acknowledge there would be increased administration and expense involved in complying with the spirit of the regulations but I believe the rewards of doing so will far outweigh those burdens. Law firms already know that there are numerous solutions to this problem and they should all be carefully considered – even the unpalatable ones.
The time has come for law firms to deal head on with the problem.