Ashurst searches for perfect ‘work-life fit’ as 50-hour week is formalised

Ashurst has put its flexible working strategy in the spotlight after setting up a committee to look at work-life issues across the firm.

Charlie Geffen
Charlie Geffen

The eight-member group, known as the Ashurst Committee, was launched last September with a wide-ranging remit to tackle issues around what senior partner Charlie Geffen describes as “work-life fit”.

The first project has seen a spin-off group led by corporate chief Stephen Lloyd and litigation partner Ed Sparrow form a series of 10-strong working groups, made up of partners, associates and non-lawyer support staff, to come up with flexible working solutions.

The groups will meet over the next few weeks and report back in February before recommendations are then put to the wider committee.

Lloyd confirmed that anything up to 10 per cent of firm staff could be involved in the consultation.

Geffen, who heads the Ashurst Committee, said: “The most important thing is to engage with the whole organisation and get them to buy in.

“The committee is not about quick wins or quick headlines; it’s a long-term project engaging the whole firm to see how we can improve our working environment. It’s first project is to see how we can help improve work-life fit for people. Other projects will follow.”

Lloyd added: “We’ve come out of a nasty recession. Life has changed and people now want different things out of their careers than they did before.”

Other issues to be tackled by the new committee will include gender diversity, use of technology and communication, for which another group has already been formed, fronted by finance partner Ruth Harris.

The other members of the committee are finance partner Helen Burton, Frankfurt capital markets partner Tobias Krug, property partner David Jones and HR director Stuart Walker.

Meanwhile, Geffen has told partners that they will be expected to devote 50 hours a week to firm work. While no formal system has been put into place to monitor the hours worked by partners, Geffen announced the requirement at a partnership conference late last year.

“It was just saying that’s what we expect people to do,” Geffen told The Lawyer. “It’s no bad thing to communicate that to partners, and for associates to hear it too.”