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How to Negotiate Flexible Work Arrangements

How to Negotiate Flexible Work Arrangements

In this article, seven professionals, including a managing attorney and a civil trial law specialist, share their top tips for legal job candidates looking to negotiate flexible work arrangements. From avoiding emphasizing flexibility in interviews to presenting a well-structured proposal, these experts provide invaluable insights for those seeking flexibility in their legal careers.

  • Avoid Flexibility Emphasis in Interviews

  • Understand Existing Work Policies

  • Showcase Technology Proficiency

  • Demonstrate Mutual Benefits

  • Propose a Trial Period

  • Focus on Productivity

  • Present a Well-Structured Proposal

Avoid Flexibility Emphasis in Interviews

To be frank, do not emphasize that in any interview with a law firm - big or small. Typically, the managing or hiring partners are looking for the following in candidates: (1) legal skill viewed through grades, testing, or professional experience, (2) ability to work long hours in a stressful environment, (3) communication skills, (4) professionalism and attitude. In that order. Notice that this list does not include any reference to "flex working" or "work-life balance."

Only mention flex working if it is part of the job description, meaning it is the employer's expectation that you work on a flexible schedule, or if it is unavoidable. For example, if you are a single mother or father, you may have to work a flexible schedule. In this event, while you should not emphasize that need in an interview, it must be discussed as part of the hiring process or your employer's expectations will exceed your ability to meet them.

Understand Existing Work Policies

As legal job candidates, you know well how well-defined and systematic the operations in a legal business are at every level. This also tells you that even when work arrangements are flexible, these norms have definitive outcomes. So, even before you prepare for negotiations, the first step is to review and understand the existing policy.

Once you determine these existing arrangements, you can decide on your plan to push these set boundaries and even prepare arguments that support your negotiations. Always remember, you’re dealing with a legal team, though, so use your ideas only if they’re rock-solid.

At the end of it all, however, you must understand that the managers and leaders you’re negotiating with have an entire firm to run. So, approach these negotiations with an open mind, be willing to compromise, and show enthusiasm for the opportunity, no matter the outcome.

Riley Beam, Managing Attorney, Douglas R. Beam, P.A.

Showcase Technology Proficiency

To negotiate flexible work arrangements successfully, legal job candidates should emphasize their adeptness at leveraging technology competently. By showcasing fluency across diverse digital tools and platforms, such individuals show their capacity to thrive within remote working contexts while maintaining seamless collaboration with peers.

Proficiency in employing communication software, project management systems, and virtual meeting platforms serves as tangible evidence of one's capability to adapt swiftly amid changing circumstances. Such an approach underscores the candidate's commitment to remaining connected and ensuring sustained productivity, irrespective of geographical constraints.

By effectively utilizing technology, legal professionals can overcome traditional boundaries and deliver high-quality work, regardless of their physical location.

Demonstrate Mutual Benefits

One tip for legal job candidates to negotiate flexible work arrangements is to demonstrate how the arrangement can benefit both the candidate and the employer. When negotiating flexibility, it's essential to emphasize how the proposed arrangement will accommodate your personal needs and contribute to your productivity and overall value to the organization.

Clearly outline the advantages of the proposed flexible work arrangement. For instance, mention how it can increase job satisfaction, improve work-life balance, reduce stress, and enhance productivity. Emphasize how this can translate to better performance and dedication to the job.

Be clear about the number of days or hours you intend to work remotely, the technology you'll use to stay connected, and the methods you'll employ to ensure open communication and collaboration with colleagues.

Anticipate any potential concerns the employer may have about the flexible arrangement and proactively address them.

Lyle Solomon, Principal Attorney, Oak View Law Group

Propose a Trial Period

Consider advocating for a trial period to alleviate any hesitations the employer might have. If they can see the arrangement works well for a limited time, they may be more open to making it permanent.

Trying something temporarily gives both sides the opportunity to see if the new way of working actually works. No one is committing to anything long-term until after things play out. This is a safer bet for the employer.

Focus on Productivity

Instead of merely emphasizing personal preferences, focus on how flexible work arrangements can benefit both parties involved.

When discussing flexible work options, candidates should emphasize their ability to maintain productivity and efficiency while working remotely or having flexible hours. Provide concrete examples of times when you successfully managed cases or projects outside the traditional office setting. Demonstrating strong time-management skills, self-discipline, and the ability to meet deadlines is vital to gaining an employer's trust in your ability to handle flexible work arrangements effectively.

Additionally, it is essential to address any potential concerns the employer may have about remote work or flexible hours. Assure them that you are fully equipped with the necessary technology, communication tools, and a dedicated workspace to ensure seamless collaboration with colleagues and clients.

Mike Schmidt, Civil Trial Law Specialist, Personal Injury Trial Law Specialist by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, and Civil Trial Specialist by the National Board of Trial Advocacy., Schmidt & Clark

Present a Well-Structured Proposal

One tip for legal job candidates seeking to negotiate flexible work arrangements is to focus on presenting a well-structured proposal that highlights the benefits to both the candidate and the firm.

Specify how the proposed arrangement will not only accommodate your personal requirements but also contribute to maintaining or enhancing your legal role's productivity and efficiency. Accentuate the potential cost savings for the company, the improved work-life balance, and the positive influence flexible work arrangements can have on employee satisfaction and retention.

Increase the likelihood of a successful negotiation for flexible work arrangements by demonstrating a clear plan and a willingness to find mutually beneficial solutions.