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On the right side of the law



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The three key initiatives that helped this law firm retain its best talent, as told by Jarrod Ng, executive director, WongPartnership LLP.

All organisations must strive to retain their best talent and WongPartnership is no different. As a top-tier law firm providing legal services across ASEAN, China and the Middle East, it is imperative we retain our best people. As such, it is important to proactively address the career needs of our lawyers and staff. This ensures that we treat and respect each and every one of our lawyers and staff as unique individuals with unique career needs and aspirations.

In recent times, we have introduced many initiatives to create an inclusive and great place to work for women. Let me touch on three key ones here.

The first initiative is the flexible work arrangement introduced in 2007. This allows our lawyers and staff to modify their hours and work locations so they can work from home during hours that are suitable for themselves and the firm. They may also choose to work reduced hours so as to balance their personal needs and their professional commitments.

The second initiative is the introduction of varied career pathways. We recognise there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach when it comes to career choices, especially as people enter different phases of their lives. As such, we have sought to create different career options to cater to their needs.

We have since had lawyers who have taken on roles that are not client-facing. For instance, our director of legal and compliance was an ex-litigation partner; our knowledge, innovation and technology initiatives are helmed by an ex-banking partner; and our legal technology initiatives are managed by an ex-mergers and acquisitions lawyer, among many other examples.

With some lawyers and staff working flexible hours and from home, it adds a layer of complexity in terms of meeting and work schedules.

The third initiative is a commitment to gender diversity within our ranks. There is an excellent representation of women across our firm. This extends to management and leadership positions.

The firm believes in meritocracy, and as such, the opportunity to work on complex matters, career progression and remuneration are assessed based on performance and ability. To date, our deputy chairman remains the only woman to have been appointed managing partner among the “Big Four” Singapore law firms. Further, many of our practice groups and support departments are helmed by women partners and directors.

Turning the word into law

All the firm’s policies were developed and implemented after consultation with the stakeholders to ensure buy-in from management, colleagues and participants. We engage our lawyers and staff to understand their needs and concerns. Management and administrative support from the human capital, operations and technology teams will always be critical to success.

One of the key challenges is that of scheduling. With some lawyers and staff working flexible hours and from home, it adds a layer of complexity in terms of meeting and work schedules.

Resource allocation is another area that requires attention. With some members working reduced hours or from home, it sometimes places a strain on other members in the team. We tackled these issues through a combination of education, communication and co-operation.

It is important to ensure there is no perception of inequality.

This is underpinned by ensuring that support systems are put in place, not just to support those who are working from home or on flexible hours, but also those who work standard hours in the office. It is important to ensure there is no perception of inequality.

Results and impact

One of the best outcomes of our initiatives has been our ability to offer better work-life balance for our lawyers and staff. The firm’s efforts have been recognised by various institutions, including the award for “Best Firm in Singapore” at the Asia Women in Business Law Awards for the past three years. Internally, we have seen an improvement in the retention of our key personnel. We have also received positive feedback from our lawyers and staff about the initiatives.

We have always been a keen supporter of Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices’ (TAFEP) initiatives and are proud to be a part of the human capital partnership programme. We look forward to being part of a community of employers who are passionate about implementing progressive and strong HR practices.

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