Lisa & Sarah braving the weather to feed the hungry sheep and meet the newest residents on Matiu/Somes Island for our annual volunteer day.
Philippa recently wrote in to ask: Do most lawyers work 50-plus hours per week? Do you really have to drive yourself into the ground in the first few years of practice to make it?
This is a great question for anyone at a stage in their life where they need or want to make an important career decision. Anyone who has watched Suits (or any of the many other legal dramas) will know the stereotype: junior staff are always given the time consuming, tedious work and expected to work all the hours in a day to complete it. How else could they possibly prove they’ve got what it takes, right? Wrong.
This old-school model means that not only is the quality of work likely to drop due to fatigue and lack of support, but that law firms are able to charge clients for more hours than are in the working day. Sure, your job may only take 2 days to complete, but that translates to 22 hours on your bill. It doesn’t give a client much price certainty!
How do we do it differently?
Wakefields’ philosophy is that if we’re working too many hours, we’re not doing it right. We take every opportunity to work smarter, not harder. We don’t believe in doing something a certain way because ‘that’s how we’ve always done it.’
We all want to have an excellent work life balance. Of course, we accept that every so often we might be here a little longer in the evening, although that’s probably because we can’t put a job down, not because of some arbitrary and unreasonable deadline imposed upon us. We want to enjoy our jobs and our offer our entire team wellness benefits, such as a sports & leisure subsidy, flexible working arrangements and an annual volunteering day – most recently this was working with the Department of Conservation on Matiu/Somes Island (pictured above).
That’s lovely, but how?
We make the complex simple, for both our clients and for ourselves. We design and spec our own software to streamline processes and ensure that there is no room for error. This means that everything we use is tailored to our own specific needs, and if it’s not working exactly how we want it to, we make the changes. Not being subject to the design of a ‘one size fits all’ software system means that we have the best possible procedures in place to save our clients time and money.
We use fixed pricing structures because we know how long things take to get done and we know that it’s important to our clients to have that financial certainty. We also know that if you call us with a simple question, it gives us better information in the long run, so we won’t count every moment of our time to bill you.
We have a management team to run the firm, but other than that, the work is always done by the best person for the job. It’s not uncommon for our most experienced staff to pitch in and help our newest team members get something done to ensure that everyone gets to go home on time.
We work across two open plan offices in Wellington and Kapiti, allowing everyone to collaborate when solving problems and find the best solutions for our clients. We know that sitting alone in an office trying to figure something out without help is a terrible use of valuable time, especially when we have several team members who can assist.
Do you have to drive yourself into the ground to make it? Well, maybe. It depends entirely on where you work. Not every law firm is progressive, and not every law firm is stuck in the bad old days. You can be a new grad and have a life too. Although rumour has it, there are still law firms out there who will hand their junior staff six ‘urgent’ reviews at 5pm on a Friday – but we’re not one of them!