Law Firms Have Hands Full with Shorter Working Week

  • By Yang Eun-kyoung

    September 04, 2018 09:01

    Lawyers are one profession that is benefiting massively from the shorter working week as they are inundated with request from companies on the legal intricacies.

    Starting next year, employers who violate the cap on the weekly number of working hours face criminal prosecution. But ironically, law firms themselves are violating the cap while racking up a maximum of billable hours.

    The shorter working week has already gone into effect for companies with more than 300 staff, which includes law firms like Kim & Jang, Yulchon and Barun Law.

    Except for the partners who manage law firms, staff are prohibited from working more than 52 hours a week. But it is common for attorneys to work from 10 a.m. until midnight since they have to attend trial during the day and prepare for cases at night. In some cases like arrest warrants, lawyers often work into the early hours of the morning.

    This makes it virtually impossible for them to work 52 hours a week or less.

    The government has granted companies a six-month grace period to help adjust to the changes, but after that they can be prosecuted for failing to comply.

    Most law firms have introduced flexi time so attorneys can choose to concentrate their working hours on different days of the week. Yoon & Yang was the first law firm in Korea to introduce the measure, but others are set to follow suit.

    But partners complain that even flexi time will not suffice in the legal industry.

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