ADDRESSING WORK-LIFE BALANCE FIRMWIDE: Chicago-based Winston & Strawn, with 850 lawyers in six offices worldwide, takes the idea of balancing work, family and social life seriously. The firm has a number of formalized work-life programs, including a flexible hours policy that, among other things, maintains partnership tracking for those who employ it; backup child care; and domestic partner benefits. A more innovative effort occurred earlier in the year when the firm invited all women lawyers to a two-day business meeting. This "Women2Women" conference, the second held in five years, gave lawyers and management the opportunity to discuss their experiences as women in the law and share ideas on networking, client service and work-life balance issues.
The program included sessions on mentoring, balancing career and family, handling leadership responsibilities and getting high-profile work assignments. It also featured luncheon speaker Gail Evans, executive vice president of CNN and author of Play Like a Man, Win Like a Woman. One of the most eagerly awaited sessions included an all-male panel of senior partners, selected by popular vote, who responded to questions about the firm’s commitment to women.
The momentum from the conference continues at the firm today. The conference planning committee submitted a report to Winston & Strawn’s executive committee, outlining recommendations on topics including part-time compensation policy changes, mentoring and training options, compensation assessment criteria and work assignment procedures.
"We truly believe having flexible work-balance policies helps maintain high productivity and morale," says Jane DiRenzo Pigott, a partner and one of the conference organizers. "The bottom line is that the policies have a positive effect on recruitment efforts and retention for all lawyers—male and female. It’s good, strategic decision making for the firm," she adds.
— Paula Tsurutani ( firstname.lastname@example.org) is Marketing & Public Relations Specialist for Winston & Strawn in Chicago.