"I grew up the child of teachers. Besides learning the obvious lack-of-privacy lessons (‘Does your father know you left the house in that outfit?’ my high school history teacher once muttered to me), I also internalized the idea that in the working world, people get home every day at 4 p.m. and have summers off. To this day, it feels to me as if spending a beautiful summer afternoon sitting in an air-conditioned office goes against the natural order.
"I’m getting a sense that more and more people are on the same page — or a nearby one. Don’t we all want more time away from work?
"Yet at the same time, the office seems to be increasing its demands on our hours. One of the stickiest elements of the traditional working world is the often intractable and sometimes irrational insistence that people put in plenty of face time. The problem is especially acute in law firms — places where associates [& paralegals?] actually worry about taking a 10-minute bathroom break. (Is it billable?) It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see a link between attrition and the legal world’s obsession with the clock.
"’But are the law firms listening? They have done a brilliant job of creating initiatives with fancy-sounding names. More than one firm boasts that it offers flexible schedules, sabbatical time and varieties of telecommuting. Press releases tout all these wonderful programs. But try to find a lawyer who’s made partner and worked a truly part-time schedule: It’s about as rare as getting a seat on the bus at rush hour."