Having recruited for the IP profession for many years (the niche sector of law for patents and trademarks), one of the principle trends of recent years has been the demand for home working from candidates.
Some IP firms have responded wholly positively and embraced this change in terms of talent acquisition, and (some may argue an even more important factor) talent retention.
However, there appears to be some catching up to do.
If a progressive patent attorney candidate is looking to move firms, then as well as the technical and cultural 'fit' being important, home working policies will invariably be a deciding factor too. Increasingly, it can be a deal-breaker these days.
One argument against home working from some quarters is whether individual productivity is adversely affected. Another might be that team working practices are affected if attorneys are not in the office at the same time. But is that enough of a reason not to offer it?
More than one London firm has suggested it's actually a question of trust. Do you reward an employee's length of service with the ability to work from home, as opposed to attracting new talent with the same offering?
Perhaps it's also a question of infrastructure too. If a firm has been unable to properly invest in IT and secure systems, it simply may not have the technical capacity to allow home working. Most would contort with horror at the prospect of confidential file bundles being left on the train.
So, what's the solution?
Do you risk losing a candidate to another firm over a lack of home working, or recognise the need for change and do something proactive about it?
One thing is certain. Great candidates won't hang around waiting for a firm to change. They'll just join the one that's already embraced it instead.
Experts say law is one of the most suitable industries for agile working. With the exception of client meetings, legal work can often be quite solitary. For many, it involves the quiet drafting of documents and occasional telephone calls, and lawyers’ offices are often hushed places of concentration and analysis. All you need is a laptop, a phone and clever technology that makes location irrelevant