BEFORE LAWYERS FEARED THEY’D BE
laid off, they worried about the time
demands of law practice.
Deborah Epstein Henry, founder of
consulting firm Flex-Time Lawyers
—with chapters in New York City and
Philadelphia—thinks there’s a solution for both concerns. She calls it
Balanomics, and it’s based on the
premise that layoffs and attrition of
lawyers may cause problems for legal
service providers, including disruption of client relationships and loss
of institutional knowledge.
If alternative work plans like tele-commuting and reduced schedules
were allowed, Henry theorizes, then
firms could save money and lawyers
might find job satisfaction.
“This is a chance to capitalize on a
down market, afford more flexibility
to lawyers and save money,” she says.
Since introducing her plan in January, six law firms, two corporate law
departments and 12 professional le-
gal organizations have signed on to
Balanomics’ statement of support.
The director of corporate social
responsibility for one signatory—
Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman,
which recently laid off attorneys—
sees some traction for Henry’s concept. “When you have any sort of
crisis, that’s also an opportunity to
be innovative,” says Tania Shah, who
works out of the firm’s San Francisco
office. “There will probably be some
trials and errors, but people will try
Mitch Bornstein, a Wellesley,
Mass., consultant whose work focuses on associate retention, has suggested to partners that they trade a
few billable hours and a little less revenue to help elevate job satisfaction.
“Instead of making $1.5 million
a year, they’d make $1.2 million,”
Bornstein says. “Of course, they said,
‘No, we want to make as much money as we can.’ ”
—Stephanie Francis Ward
IF YOU’VE GOT A REGULAR POKER NIGHT, YOU MIGHT WANT TO CONSULT A
lawyer before your next game.
Earlier this year a South Carolina judge upheld the 2006 arrest of five
poker buddies for playing an illegal game of chance. In the town of Mount
Pleasant (population 63,000) the card players were arrested for violating a
state law that bans games with cards or dice—which the state attorney general has interpreted as meaning games that rely more on chance than skill.
Those arrests weren’t an aberration.
Some 38 other states have similar laws
barring games of chance. The
laws have been used
to justify raids on
nia, Colorado and Virginia, according
to John Pappas, executive director of
the Poker Players Alliance, a national
advocacy group in Washington, D.C.
The PPA says it has started a litigation support network to advocate for
poker as a game of skill.
That South Carolina judge agreed,
but it didn’t matter. In February, municipal judge Larry Duffy ruled that
“Texas Hold ’em” is a game of skill,
but upheld the conviction of the five
players caught in the 2006 raid. The
case is being appealed.
Pappas says the PPA doesn’t advocate unregulated poker—if someone’s
taking a commission from players, the
state has a right to require a license.
But a line has to be drawn at friendly,
informal games like that in South
Carolina, he says.
The South Carolina poker pals
“were as shocked as anyone that
cops with guns a-blazing knocked
down their door,” says Pappas, exaggerating ever so slightly.