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How a 4-day week works for this firm

By Lauren Croft | |4 minute read

A year after implementing a four-day working week with no pay cuts, this law firm stands by the policy and has continued to push for flexibility.

Last year, Coutts Lawyers & Conveyancers implemented a new flexible working policy that the firm said at the time defied “traditional law firm culture, where working long hours is considered a rite of passage to partnership”.

In June 2022, senior lawyers at the firm were given the option to reduce their work schedules to four days per week, with no salary decrease. Lawyers who participate in the policy saw their billable targets reduced by 10 per cent, alleviating any pressure to work longer hours on those four days.


Under the policy, lawyers are able to adjust their schedules on a weekly basis. It follows the firm’s already innovative approaches to flexible working, including tailoring work schedules to account for school drop-offs and pick-ups.

Such policies, the firm noted at the time, have “paid dividends for employees, but also, client satisfaction”, with Coutts seeing a 37.9 per cent expansion in clientele last financial year.

Speaking to HR Leader's sister brand, Lawyers Weekly a year on, Coutts managing partner Adriana Care​ said that many of its employees have taken up the new policy — and that it has improved staff attraction and retention.

“It is mainly our seniors that have exercised [the new policy] — and most have felt it quite manageable and help their personal commitments.

“Overall, it has positively impacted the firm, but it can be hard to manage, so you need strict boundaries in place. It can be challenging to manage with commitments such as court and external mediations, conciliations,” she said.

“We feel the initiative is one of our points of difference, but it has to be with the right employees who understand flexibility goes both ways.”

Last year, the firm said that part of the motivation for this new approach was to address the “wider employment problem” currently facing Australia’s legal profession.

This was followed by the release of new research from specialised recruiter Robert Half, which showed that 70 per cent of employers were worried about retaining their employees in 2023, with 30 per cent confirming that they can’t currently compete with other companies’ salaries, benefits and perks.

Moreover, 43 per cent said their employees (across sectors) had expressed concern about increasing workload and burnout.

“[Initiatives like a four-day working week] can help attract and support employees who previously felt they couldn’t commit to a legal career. However, I don’t think it’s as easy as flicking on a switch; it takes a lot of flexibility from both parties as the legal structure doesn’t always support it or people’s demands,” Ms Care said.

“I think flexibility is something people require and are looking for to support them and their personal commitments and wellbeing.”