Justitia: The Presumptive Flexible Work Model in Action
Winner of the AHRI Sir Ken Robinson Award for Workforce Flexibility, Justitia, demonstrates how flexibility can really work.
Justitia was founded in 2005 by two close friends and colleagues in order to consciously 'smash the old paradigm' of traditional law firms by establishing a truly collaborative and collegial employrnent law firm based on shared values of exemplary client service, fostering the talent of women lawyers, and 'offering an alternative to clients and staff wishing to conduct business in a flexible and harmonious fashion'.
The partners felt that traditional law firms, focused on billable hours and associated income, hierarchical management and work allocation, key corporate clients and status driven cultures, are ill-equipped to provide sufficient flexibility to meet the work-life requirements of many of their professional and para-legal staff.
Their innovative approach was based on a sound business model, and encompassed two key imperatives; first, delivering services meeting client needs through teamwork and collaboration; and second, assessing the overall value of the service provided, not merely the financial return from billable hours.
Contrary to traditional law firms, Justitia presumes that part-time of flexible work is the norm rather than the exception, and consequently that each employee's work commitments will vary according to their unique personal circumstances. All new employees are asked how they want to work and personal work plans based on available rosters are negotiated.
The partners lead by example, and both work part time in order to spend tirne with their farnilies, undertake community work or pursue their individual interests. To make it work, the firm has in place multiple communication channels, a 'whole firm' approach whereby several lawyers meet with clients to ensure seamless service, transparent fees, and responsiveness. Human resource management is vital, with careful monitoring of individual and team performance through measurable KPIs.
Source: Nonkervis, Baird, Coffey ond Shields (2017) Human Resource Management: Strategy and Practice , Cengoge Learning Australia: South Melbourne, Australia.
Issues to consider for your essay:
1) Why is it important for firms such as Justitia to 'smash the old paradigm' when it comes to work design challenges?
2) What kind of problems may occur when adopting the kind of approach that Justitia is taking in regards to flexible working arrangements? How might these problems be managed?
3) How viable is this approach for organisations of different sizes, and within different industries? Using an organisation from a different industry as an example, provide recornmendations for how they could irnplement similar flexible working arrangements.