The firm of Kirkland & Ellis say they want their attorneys to be able to spend their down time on what they want to do.
On its face, this seems like a really cool perk. Kirkland & Ellis has rolled out a new service — Kirkland Concierge — as reported by Law.com, which provides attorneys and senior staff with access to on-call concierge services to provide assistance with all manner of personal errands. So if you need a hand booking a last-minute getaway or securing the must-have toy of the holiday season, the firm is providing the resources to get it all done without sacrificing any of your free time — or any of those precious billable hours.
And that’s really the tightrope Kirkland is walking. While it might be nice to not have to track down a location that has large TV boxes as you plan a move, there’s a very real perception that the firm is happy to take busy work off of attorneys’ plates so they can spend that time billing. But Chiara Wrocinski, senior director of legal recruiting and development, whose frustration with her own stress of the holiday season last year was part of the motivation for the program, insists the service is really designed to help professionals at the firm live their best lives:
“It’s not to provide a service so people can work all the time,” said Chiara Wrocinski, the firm’s senior director of legal recruiting and development. “It’s to provide a service that will supplement and enhance the lives of our attorneys and give them an opportunity to spend their very precious downtime on what they want to do.”
In the month that the program has been up and running, approximately 20 percent of eligible employees have used the service. So far, associates have taken advantage of the perk at a higher rate than partners, and the gender divide has been about equal amongst users of the concierge. One project the service recently tackled was assisting a lawyer who was closing on their house in two weeks. Amidst the craziness of moving, the attorney was asked to go to Europe for a work trip. Having concierge services available at during that incredibly trying time must have seemed like a godsend:
“The planning and organization kept everything on track and I appreciate your responsiveness during this very stressful period,” the lawyer wrote to the concierge firm, according to Wrocinski. “Thank you for everything. It was a pleasure working with you.”
This type of concierge service is not popular in the world of Biglaw, but Wrocinski sees it as essential to creating the kind of workplace that attracts the best talent. One interesting stat the firm discovered while researching the service is that while only 3 percent of companies offer a similar perk, 30 percent of employers on “best place to work” lists provide some version of concierge services to its employees.
“Our goal is to create an environment where they’re going to the best place to work,” Wrocinski said. “This isn’t a Band-Aid to a grueling bleed. This is because we want you to come here. We want you to have the best opportunities to learn; to be mentored; and to spend time with clients. And then we want you to go home and feel energized and want to come back here tomorrow.”
Given the firm’s now public stance on mandatory arbitration agreements, one has to wonder if you have a dispute with the concierge service if you’d be forced to arbitrate it…