Ride the Lightning

Cybersecurity and Future of Law Practice Blog
by Sharon D. Nelson Esq., President of Sensei Enterprises, Inc.

BigLaw Firm Issues New Rules re: Checking Email

November 2, 2022

Well, it’s a start. Above the Law reported on October 28 that Slaughter and May has issued a “Working Practices Code” to impose standards and improve work/life balance for associates’ responsiveness.

The code says it not necessary to turn your camera on a video call between the hours of 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. Additionally, the expectation is that associates will check their email once on a Friday night and twice a day over the weekend and not at all between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m.

The caveat by the firm is “unless you are working on a matter/s where you consider that to be necessary.”

The Code also says that “for this to work, you need to be reachable by phone.”

As a firm partner noted, while the firm needs “to empower people to behave like normal human beings and have their own expectations of a life,” the client is still #1. “Ultimately, the client comes first. We’re a bit like a five-star hotel. We’re very expensive… [clients know] that if you call room service at 2 a.m. for a sundae, you’ll get one.”

Partner Steve Cooke’s take: “The need for the Code became clear during the conversations we had as part of the Associate Review earlier this year where, after a period of intense home working, the unnecessary incursions people were experiencing into their downtime periods were more pronounced. The Code attempts to rectify that with some simple principles.”

As a lecturer on lawyer wellness and work/life balance, I’m happy to see this issue addressed. But there seems to be some underlying pressure to be very responsive as well. Will it make a difference? We’ll see.

Sharon D. Nelson, Esq., PresidentSensei Enterprises, Inc.
3975 University Drive, Suite 225Fairfax, VA 22030
Email:   Phone: 703-359-0700
Digital Forensics/Cybersecurity/Information Technology