How do you create an atmosphere in which people share their expertise and time willingly with one another? How do you make it collaborative, not counter-productively competitive? How do you create an environment in which the quality of the work takes precedence over how long it takes?
The answer to these questions is to leave the clocks outside. Although we record time, we have no billing or time targets. This means our lawyers are not forced to compete with each other to find the jobs or clients that bill the most hours. Equally, we are not forced to live under the stress of finding someone to bill for a set number of hours a day. This way, people have everything to gain from being selfless.
We don't necessarily bill our clients by the hour either – we're flexible on that too, which allows us to bill for the value we bring if it is appropriate. Some ideas take a matter of seconds but are capable of saving companies millions of pounds a year. The type of work we do is not always measurable in minutes.
This is not done for an easier life, it's done to achieve better results. We believe our system provides greater emphasis on quality, greater efficiency and engenders a firm-wide ethos of sharing expertise. It means people have time to offer advice, which for a trainee is exceptionally good news. The 'open-door' policy is more than management-speak here, it genuinely exists. You will find that even senior people are happy to help you.
While talking about clocks, it's worth mentioning that, as at all City law firms, now and then there are periods of intense effort – that's the nature of the job. Most trainees experience this at least once in their first year: long hours, long nights, maybe even a long weekend. The positive side is that we have no 'face-time' culture. If you've no work to do at the end of the day, you go home. We don't keep people hanging around twiddling their thumbs.