Law firm Clarkson Wright & Jakes has baby boom

Three new lawyer mums from Clarkson Wright & Jakes with their babies. From left: Claudine Lawrence, Claire Schneck and Jill Lawton.
Three new lawyer mums from Clarkson Wright & Jakes with their babies. From left: Claudine Lawrence, Claire Schneck and Jill Lawton.

No fewer than six solicitors at Orpington-based law firm Clarkson Wright & Jakes (CWJ) are on maternity leave - 15% of the firm's lawyers.

To cope with the baby boom, the firm has been recruiting furiously over the past few months, ensuring that it continues to provide high levels of service to its clients.

The side effect is that the firm's workforce will ultimately increase in size, which is a good discipline in keeping the firm focused on growth.

The timing of CWJ's baby boom is fitting, given that the Coalition Government's formal response to its Consultation on Modern Workplaces is expected.

It is designed to make radical changes to family-related and flexible working rights in 2015, exploring ways to encourage better work-life balance and cut red-tape for businesses. The proposals include:

  • Introducing a "flexible parental leave" system where the mother takes the first 18 weeks as maternity leave, and the remaining 34-week period can be shared between both parents;
  • An entitlement for fathers to unpaid time off to attend antenatal appointments and a total of 6 weeks' paid paternity leave;
  • Extending the current right to request flexible working to all employees (ie. not just those with children) provided they have 26 weeks' continuous employment;
  • Replacing the current statutory procedure for flexible working requests with a less onerous Code of Practice and giving employers a discretion to prioritise requests between employees;
  • Allowing workers to carry-over up to four weeks' annual leave to the next holiday year when they have not been able to take it in the present leave year due to sickness or family-leave absence.
  • Allowing employers to insist on carry-over of up to four weeks' annual leave provided they have a sound business reason for doing so.

Claire Schneck, Head of the Family Department (currently on maternity leave), said: "At CWJ, we recognise the importance of work-life balance for all of our employees; we believe that it not only makes better business sense, but leads to a happier, more diverse, more productive and motivated workforce."

All six mothers are expected back in 2012, although not all will be coming back full time. This fits in with CWJ's tradition of flexibility.

There are currently around 30 different working arrangements at the firm, with more to follow next year no doubt so that the mothers can happily juggle their careers and families.

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