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Giving lawyers unlimited holidays may seem mad, but it could be a stroke of genius.

Posted by: Laurence Simons 17/10/14

A few weeks back, Virgin Group did one of those slightly left field things that it has been famous for down the years. This time it wasn't launching its own cola brand or Sir Richard Branson climbing into a high-altitude balloon, but the company announcing that it would let staff take unlimited holidays.

It was an extraordinary offer and one that implies a lot of trust in staff. Surely that could never happen in the legal sector?

Well, yes it can. Mischon de Reya managing partner Kevin Gold has announced the same deal for its lawyers, along with a three-day week, the Lawyer reports.

This extraordinary move has come at a momentous time for the company, with the firm having just converted to LLP status and all 65 fixed-share partners given a share. It is also combining its four London offices into one.

Explaining the rationale behind the move, Mr Gold told The Lawyer: "These are lifestyle choices and it’s about creating a flexible workforce that the organisation serves and that serves the organisation too."

He added that the suggestion was one he thought the board would be against, but instead it was all in favour.

Some might suggest the reason for that is that the board members would enjoy the justification this could provide for a few more holidays themselves, but there are other issues to be considered, including issues of diversity.

“More women than men are coming into the law and when women have a baby they take a break out of the profession and often feel it’s difficult to come back in," Mr Gold pointed out.

Misco de Reya now has 29 female partners out of 102, with eight more added in 2013-14, meaning it is already in a better position in this regard than other firms. However, both retention and recruitment of female staff, particularly those with or starting families, may benefit from this flexible approach.

So while it may seem like offering unlimited holidays is a gimmick or a publicity stunt - and if Sir Richard Branson is doing it people will be forgiven for thinking so - the policy could have practical benefits that easily outweigh any disadvantages.