The legal market faces tough times but working virtually appears to thrive. 

Even Law Firms Feel Strain of Layoffs and Cutbacks (NY Times, 12 Nov 2008) opens “You know things are bad when even lawyers are getting laid off.” The The Layoff List at American Lawyer enumerates the many lay-offs, including the White & Case layoff on Tuesday.

In the face of this bad news, Law Firm Perk of the Moment: Flextime (American Lawyer, 12 Nov 2008) reports

“Even in a bad economy, the concept of work flexibility has staying power. For starters, it doesn’t cost anything. Unlike reduced time or job sharing, lawyers on flexible schedules aren’t typically looking to cut down their workload or billable hours. Many are happy to work like maniacs — provided they do it their way, at home or on schedules that deviate from normal office hours.”

I have long advocated flextime in the guise of working virtually. (Not to put too fine a point on it, but I think the article mis-uses the term flextime, which I thought means being at the office but not on a set schedule. The article is clearly is more about where lawyers work than when.)

If a barrier at your firm is the culture won’t allow it, now may be the time to pursue it. If firms don’t take otherwise difficult steps now, will they ever?