Work Your Hours at DLA Piper... or Else

Sept. 14, 2016, 6:51 PM

Don’t even think about working less than seven and a half hours a day at DLA Piper.

If you do, your paycheck might not find its way to your bank account. That’s life for the firm’s partners, according to the latest report from our friends across the pond at The Lawyer.

Jonathon Manning writes :

Partners who fail to fill in a timesheet showing they have completed a minimum seven-and-a-half hours of work could have their quarterly profit drawings withheld.

In extreme cases where “delinquent behaviour” continues partners could also see their monthly drawings reduced, according to DLA chief operating officer Andrew Darwin.

It’s worth emphasizing that it’s not necessarily 7.5 hours of billing, but work generally, which can include training, mentoring, supervising and client development.

A DLA Piper spokesman did not respond to a request for comment. Neither did Darwin, the firm’s chief operating officer.

Dan Binstock, a legal recruiter in Washington, D.C. wrote via email that the announcement points up a question about the firm’s motive.

“My question is what type of behavior are they trying to fix, because a policy like this is usually brought on due to unproductive behavior that needs to be addressed. While this is unusual, if there are segments of partners who are not carrying their own weight and coasting, this policy is definitively a firm kick in the rear.”

Kent Zimmermann, a consultant who works with law firms on strategic planning, mergers and firm policies, said it’s not unusual for high-performing firms to have these kinds of expectations out of their lawyers.

“But many firms do not clearly communicate their expectations and what they mean for partners,” said Zimmermann, adding that DLA “made them clear as day.”

“What the firm is asking for is not a lot given what other firms expect of their people. These are the kinds of contributions a firm needs to expect and manage against to be one of the world’s leading global law firms.”

We’re curious to get your thoughts. Does the policy go too far, or is it fair, considering lawyers who work at big law firms should expect to work well beyond the regular eight-hour work day?

Write to us at BigLawBusiness@bna.com .

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