Spotlight on Flex


 

The Spotlight on Flex showcases professionals from member organizations who exemplify personal and professional success while working a flexible schedule. Their stories illustrate the long-term benefits that flexible schedules offer to both individuals and organizations.

This month, we are pleased to share insights from Laura O’Boyle, Associate in the New York office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP.

Laura OBoyleDiversity & Flexibility Alliance: How has working flexibly made your career more sustainable?

Laura O’Boyle: I think it’s fair to say that working on a flexible schedule is the reason I’ve been able to sustain a career in “big law.” I transitioned to a 75% schedule as a sixth year associate just after my first son turned one. I had returned to work full-time after my maternity leave, but I quickly found myself struggling to find the right balance between a demanding career and my growing family. I was also coping with the recent death of my mother and was spending a lot of time thinking about the type of parent I wanted to be. Shifting to a flexible schedule seemed like a solution that would allow me to be a more present and engaged parent while continuing to sustain a career that I loved – and it very much has been.

Although I had concerns about shifting to a flex-time schedule at that point in my career, the partners with whom I work and firm management have all been incredibly supportive of my decision. With their support, I have never once second-guessed the transition.

For others considering a flex-time schedule, I always remind them that this job is still incredibly demanding, even on a flexible schedule. Having a supportive husband and a wonderful caretaker for our two boys have both been critical to the success of my career.

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The Spotlight on Flex showcases professionals from member organizations who exemplify personal and professional success while working a flexible schedule. Their stories illustrate the long-term benefits that flexible schedules offer to both individuals and organizations.

This month, we are pleased to share insights from Marci Rose Levine, Partner in the Washington, DC office of Dentons. Ms. Levine is a 2013 Flex Success Award Honoree.

Marci Rose LevineDiversity & Flexibility Alliance: How have you made work-life control a priority and a success with your schedule? How have clients contributed to this?

Marci Rose Levine: As a parent of three small children, flexibility both in my professional and personal life is essential. I’ve been with Dentons for almost 17 years, and for the past 12 years, I’ve been on a flexible/reduced hours schedule. I’m currently at 80 percent, but over the years, I’ve alternated between 80-90 percent. I’ve spent a lot of time on my education and career development, so when I was pregnant with my first child, I chose to go on a reduced hours schedule because I knew the flexibility would allow me to be a better mother and better attorney.

Not all my clients know that I’m on a reduced hours schedule; however, I have several, such as Walmart, that do – Walmart has really put a spotlight on flexibility in the legal profession. I was upfront with them about my schedule, and in return, they have always made it a point to be realistic about which projects require immediate attention and which can wait. Being open about my schedule with clients like Walmart has been empowering – there’s a feeling of mutual respect around balancing my work with my other responsibilities.

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The Spotlight on Flex showcases professionals from member organizations who exemplify personal and professional success while working a flexible schedule. Their stories illustrate the long-term benefits that flexible schedules offer to both individuals and organizations.

Eve HowardThis month, we are pleased to share insights from Eve Howard, Partner in the Washington, DC office of Hogan Lovells US LLP. Ms. Howard is a 2013 Flex Success Award Honoree and a member of the Alliance’s Advisory Council.

Diversity & Flexibility Alliance: How have you made work-life control a priority and a success with your schedule?

Eve Howard: With a flexible schedule I’m able to devote more time to non-work-related things that are important to me, including my family and outside interests. However, my goal is that my schedule never interferes with the service I provide to my clients, my relationship with colleagues at the firm, or with the firm as a whole. If a client calls with an emergency on a day I’m not in the office, it doesn’t mean that it’s not my problem to deal with. Part of the success of my schedule is learning to recognize what’s a true crisis and what’s not – this comes with experience.

I’ve been at a 75% schedule for most of the past 14 years; I’m generally in the office four days and off on Wednesdays. However, months can go by where I don’t take a Wednesday off, but I’ll use another day that works better for current client or firm demands to stick to my arrangement. Having Wednesdays off creates a nice break in the middle of the week, and if I’m unavailable for a part of that day, it’s usually not too difficult to deal with things a day later (as opposed to three days later if my day out of the office were a Friday). Hogan Lovells has been fully supportive of my schedule, and I’ve been duly compensated for times I’ve worked more than my agreed upon hours. In other words, I never felt penalized by my schedule in terms of compensation or opportunities. Flexibility is the key component of a successful arrangement, both on my part and the part of the firm.

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The Spotlight on Flex showcases professionals from member organizations who exemplify personal and professional success while working a flexible schedule. Their stories illustrate the long-term benefits that flexible schedules offer to both individuals and organizations.

Deborah KellyThis month, we are pleased to share insights from Deborah Kelly, Partner & Deputy General Counsel in the Washington, DC office of Dickstein Shapiro LLP. Update: Deborah Kelly is now Partner in the Washington, DC office of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips LLP.

Diversity & Flexibility Alliance: How have you made work-life control a priority and a success with your schedule?

Deborah Kelly: I was in academia teaching law-related political science classes at the University of Maryland and then American University before I even started in the law.  I went to law school because I believed it would enhance the courses I was teaching and was accepted at the Washington College of Law (WCL). While there, I kept teaching full-time, and I decided I wanted to be a law professor. I learned my chances of getting hired at a law school would increase if I practiced for a few years first. I did well at WCL, received an offer from Dickstein Shapiro, and intended to stay for just a few years.  Twenty six years later, I’m still here (so I stayed for more than “just a few years”)! Read more

The Spotlight on Flex showcases professionals from member organizations who exemplify personal and professional success while working a flexible schedule. Their stories illustrate the long-term benefits that flexible schedules offer to both individuals and organizations.

This month, we are pleased to share insights from Danielle Frappier, Partner in the Washington, DC office of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP.

Danielle FrappierDiversity & Flexibility Alliance: How have you made work-life control a priority and a success with your schedule?

Danielle Frappier: The key to making it work for me has been to remain responsive to clients, have a great team behind me, and keep things very organized.  Although I try to keep certain core office hours, if there is an urgent matter, I make sure that I am available or someone on my team can cover it.  Most of my clients don’t know (or forgot) that I have a part-time schedule because I work very hard to make sure that their needs are taken care of.  That wouldn’t be possible without my fantastic team.

I actually think my part time schedule has helped me to achieve my business development goals, although I didn’t realize it when I first made the change.  I was struggling to create my own business development path, particularly after having children, because all of my waking hours were consumed with attending either to client work or children.  After I had my second child, my mentor suggested that I switch to an 80% part time schedule.  That’s when a light went off for me: I could use that 20% “cushion” in multiple ways.  Of course, it helped when I needed to take a sick child to the pediatrician or attend a school function.  But I could also use it for business and career development activities.

I soon began to develop my own business, and have been very successful at generating work for my team and the firm.  Last year I had the second highest book of business firm-wide and kept a lot of people busy.  It was not an easy feat, especially in this tough, competitive market.

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The Spotlight on Flex showcases professionals from member organizations who exemplify personal and professional success while working a flexible schedule. Their stories illustrate the long-term benefits that flexible schedules offer to both individuals and organizations.

This month, we are pleased to share insights from Jennifer Stanley, Partner in the San Francisco office of Fenwick & West LLP.

Jennifer StanleyDiversity & Flexibility Alliance: How have you made work-life control a priority and a success with your schedule? How have clients contributed to this?

Jennifer Stanley: I’m lucky that I can work on a “flexible reduced schedule” at Fenwick, and this allows me to maintain some work life balance – which I otherwise wouldn’t be able to achieve, and for which I am very grateful.  I’ve had a 60% commitment to the firm for past decade, and I view my schedule as an overall annual commitment to the firm, rather than as a way to set specific working hours.  Given the nature of my practice (technology transactional attorney), I don’t try to take specific days off each week.  Instead, I’m available seven days a week if the client needs are there.  Some days I work long hours and other days I don’t; sometimes I work on the weekends, and sometimes I take a day off during the week – it depends on what’s on my desk at a particular point in time – but I keep track of things on an on-going basis so it all balances out.  There is no “perfect” balance or control, and I’m fine with that. Read more

The Spotlight on Flex showcases professionals from member organizations who exemplify personal and professional success while working a flexible schedule. Their stories illustrate the long-term benefits that flexible schedules offer to both individuals and organizations.

This month, we are pleased to share insights from Amy Ufberg, Partner in the Philadelphia office of Dechert LLP.

Amy UfbergDiversity & Flexibility Alliance: How have you made work-life control a priority and a success with your schedule? How has a client contributed to this?

Amy Ufberg: My flexible work schedule has varied over the years between being at 60, 70 to 80 percent. I never focused on a set flex schedule or only working certain days. Instead, I alternated my time in the office as needed – if there was a family event, then I went and made up the time on another day. The firm let me grow professionally as my personal needs changed. I was promoted to partner and named practice group leader all while working flexibly. Earlier this year I returned to working 100 percent and also added another duty, that of Co-Hiring Partner for the Philadelphia office.

My practice group and my clients have all been extremely supportive as well. My practice focuses on estate planning, charitable planning, and estate and trust administration. Our group has “client teams” so if I’m unavailable, there’s always someone else that can answer any client needs. I develop very personal relationships with my clients so it’s easy to be honest with them about competitive demands. My clients know I’m available to get their work done.

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The Spotlight on Flex showcases professionals from member organizations who exemplify personal and professional success while working a flexible schedule. Their stories illustrate the long-term benefits that flexible schedules offer to both individuals and organizations.

This month, we are pleased to share insights from Abby Hemani, Partner in the Boston office of Goodwin Procter LLP.

Abby HemaniDiversity & Flexibility Alliance: How have you made work-life control a priority and a success with your schedule? How have clients contributed to this?

Abby Hemani: I’m fortunate that the nature of my practice facilitates a flexible schedule and allows me to maintain relatively reasonable work-life control. I focus primarily on appellate work and dispositive motion practice in large cases; deadlines are typically far off, and I can see what’s coming down the road. My schedule is not always perfect, but it’s definitely more feasible because I can often work at different times and from different places.

My client, Jody Forchheimer, Senior Vice President and Deputy General Counsel at Fidelity, is very supportive.  As a working mother herself, she has personal experience juggling a career and parenting. Jody has hired me to draft and argue several dispositive motions in large cases while one of my partners handles other aspects of the litigation.  With support from Jody, this somewhat unusual division of responsibilities has fostered an incredibly collaborative relationship between Fidelity, the firm, and me.  Jody took a risk on me, and I am so fortunate to have earned her trust and support, on both a personal and professional level.

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The Spotlight on Flex showcases professionals from member organizations who exemplify personal and professional success while working a flexible schedule. Their stories illustrate the long-term benefits that flexible schedules offer to both individuals and organizations.

This month, we are pleased to share insights from Kirstin Poirier-Whitley, Partner in the Los Angeles office of Jones Day.

Kirstin Poirier WhitleyDiversity & Flexibility Alliance: How have you made work-life control a priority and a success with your schedule? How have clients contributed to this?

Kirstin Poirier-Whitley: I’ve been working a flex schedule (75% over five days a week) since 2001 after I had my first child.  I may work shorter days, but I am always available to meet client demands.  If an issue or matter requires more hours in the office, then I make changes to my schedule to meet those demands.  Working flexibly allows me to have a greater presence with my family.  The firm has always supported my decision, and my schedule has not hindered my career advancement – I made partner while on a flex schedule.  The firm also has fantastic technology in place that supports telecommuting.  This has been another successful method of supporting work-life control for our attorneys.  I have full access to my desktop in my home office.

My clients are aware of my schedule, and they know I am available for them.  They have been extremely supportive and respectful of my time; our relationships work because we have a mutual respect of time management and our respective time constraints.

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The Spotlight on Flex showcases professionals from member organizations who exemplify personal and professional success while working a flexible schedule. Their stories illustrate the long-term benefits that flexible schedules offer to both individuals and organizations.

This month, we are pleased to share insights from Victoria Lee, Partner in the Silicon Valley office of DLA Piper. Ms. Lee is a 2014 Flex Success Award Honoree.

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Diversity & Flexibility Alliance: How have you made work-life control a priority and a success with your schedule? How has your client contributed to this?

Victoria Lee: I’ve been on a reduced schedule for the last eight years; after the birth of my son, I came back from maternity leave at an 80% schedule.  At the time, the firm was going through the three-way merger, and there was no formal alternative work schedule (AWS) policy in place.  In some ways I was lucky – I just talked with my practice group leader, said this was what I wanted to do, and it was done.  The firm was “flexible.”  Since then we’ve developed an infrastructure, with the support of partners and senior level management, to implement a formal AWS. The firm has been extremely supportive of flexibility.  Read more