Kirkland Will See You Now: Kirkland and Ellis’ new “Kirkland Concierge” service
September 17, 2019
2 min read
What's going on here?
Leading US Law firm Kirkland and Ellis has sparked a debate about stress in the workplace months on from the launch of a concierge service which provides personal assistants to their lawyers.
What does this mean?
Kirkland Concierge, introduced in late 2018, is a free to use service that gives lawyers at the firm access to a team of on-call helpers, who are available seven days a week, all year round. It allows lawyers to run their errands right from their desk, leading to allegations that firms are “chaining employees to their desks”. There are some controls on the service, with personal purchases and out of hours requests having to be paid for by the lawyer themselves.
Kirkland and Ellis’ senior director of firm-wide legal recruiting and development, Chiara Wrocinski, said that the service is “part of our firm’s broad commitment to our talent and helping them find balance in their lives”.
What's the big picture effect?
Kirkland’s concierge service has been met with ambivalence; while it gives greater flexibility to its employees, it also raises questions about how maligned the personal matters of lawyers have become. Lawyers at the firm are less likely to be inclined to take time away from the office for personal errands when these can now be dealt with by personal assistants. Critics say that the service serves to ensure employees spend as much time at the office as possible, which is not healthy.
The Association of Women Solicitors is one group that has spoken out against the service. They argue that the scheme encourages an unhealthy attachment to the office and do not believe the scheme to be in the interests of lawyers, remarking that “the implication is Kirkland & Ellis lawyers are so busy fee earning that they do not have time to even book a holiday let alone perhaps go on one”. They further contend that the service simply mitigates an issue that is already present at the firm, namely the amount of hours staff are expected to bill. Neil Shah, chief de-stressing officer at The Stress Management Society, goes one further by suggesting that the service is “just a veiled attempt to get [employees] to work harder”.
Kirkland and Ellis are not the first company to make this kind of work-centred move. Google, Facebook and Apple have introduced an egg-freezing service for their female employees to enable (and encourage) women to postpone having a child until they are in their late thirties and forties. In the legal sphere, magic circle firms such as Clifford Chance will deliver fresh meals in the office post 9pm.
A holistic solution would relegate efforts to make the office more appealing and instead allow the office to be a separate part of employees’ lives.
Report written by Natasha Dawes
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