We sat down with Partner Krystina Endara to discuss Shipkevich PLLC’s latest initiative entitled “Flexibility & Family First.”
What is the Flexibility and Family First Initiative (FFFI)?
The FFFI was born one night when Felix and I were having a meeting on Zoom at 9:30 p.m. at night and, in that very moment, realized we were genuinely happy with our work and home lives and had achieved our own definitions of a balance between the two. That day, like every working day, we both had the opportunity to spend a few hours with our respective spouses, cook dinner for our kids, tuck them into bed, and get an hour work out in somewhere in between. Because of the flexible work model of our firm, we were able to do everything we wanted to do in the day, while also putting in a full and productive work-day.
This initiative is to bring awareness toward the benefits of an atypical working model for those who desire it, and for those who flourish in it. We want to normalize remote work and flexible hours and bring those benefits to other working professionals. For decades employers have been tying their employees to a desk in an office for pre-determined hours, without any regard for whether that model, or those hours, suit the employee. We believe in having a conversation with each and every employee to see what working arrangement suits them the best, be it a 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. schedule or a 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. schedule, be it remote or not. It’s not about making this the business model, but about making this an option for those of us who desire it. It’s about tailoring the way we work to each individual person to improve work efficiency, but also the life of employee.
At Shipkevich PLLC we love our jobs, but we also love our families and our health. Felix and I realized that night on Zoom that we can have it all, with just a little flexibility.
Why is this initiative important to the legal industry?
This initiative is especially important to this industry. The legal industry in 2021 feels very antiquated. There has been so much resistance from this industry to adapt to the movement that we are seeing right now by working professionals toward a better quality of life. The Covid-19 Pandemic has really been the driving force for progress in the legal industry in this respect. We have seen so many firms move toward a remote model, albeit the fact that just a very limited number of these firms have also opened the door to the discussion of a flexible hour work model. However, even just with the steps firms have taken toward remote work, with the Pandemic nearing a foreseeable end, we are seeing a lot of these law firms spring back to their pre-pandemic rigid work models, which I think a lot of attorneys are disappointed about.
Where does the current legal industry fail?
The current legal model fails in many ways. Outdated work models and toxic work environments have become synonymous with our industry. It is a cut-throat industry that is not kind to employees in general. This industry glorifies the “burn out”, and rewards people for neglecting their health and families, while judging those who are not willing to do so to further their careers. By continuing to foster these working environments, we are creating a barrier for everyone, but especially parents, to excel in their careers. You should be able to excel in your career but also enjoy a rewarding home life – and not be judged for it. In addition, for too long the legal industry has been turning their cheek to toxic work environments. It can be a really suffocating work environment. We need to open the floor for this conversation and stop ignoring this reality.
Why would an attorney want to join this firm?
I think the answer to this question is why wouldn’t an attorney want to join this firm? We do complex and rewarding work for great clients, but also find the time to enjoy our home lives each and every day, not just on the weekends.
Can we redefine the work life balance for attorneys?
Yes. However, we can’t do that without first having a conversation with each employee about what that means for them. Every attorney’s idea of a work life balance is different. We are individuals with different needs, desires and responsibilities. In order to help each attorney achieve their definition of work life balance, we need to be willing to move beyond the 9 to 5 and away from the typical physical work office model.