Michael Moody and Jeff Ward: Job-Sharing Pioneers
Timberland attorneys Jeff Ward (left) and Michael Moody
Dubbed trailblazers by media and colleagues alike, attorneys Michael Moody and Jeff Ward were among the first men to successfully travel where few had gone before, into that distant terrain more typically trekked by working mothers—the job share.
In 2001, Moody’s wife, a surgeon, had just finished medical training in Cleveland and both were looking for work back east when a former colleague tipped him off to an assistant general counsel opportunity with Timberland, the famed boot maker headquartered in Stratham, N.H. When Moody learned that it was a shared position, the father of three was intrigued; might this be the solution to his work/life balance dilemma? Six years later, he is contentedly sharing the same job.
“Before I came on board, our position was shared by women,” recalls Moody. “Then, after almost two years with the company, my job-sharing partner left to be at home with her kids. I was given the choice of going full time or continuing to work on a reduced schedule. Well, I didn’t have to think long before casting out the net and finding Jeff Ward.”
Prior to Timberland, Ward was working 60 to 70 hours a week at a Chicago law firm. He and his wife, also an attorney, wanted to spend more time together with their toddler and infant twins, but had no idea how to make it make happen. While neither wanted to stop working entirely, the idea of part-time jobs struck them as ideal but entirely unrealistic, and job sharing was not an option that Ward had considered.
“It’s important that we appear seamless from the client’s perspective, so the inability to get along would prove quite ineffective—we’re emailing each other regularly and on the phone at least once a day.”
“When I was toiling away at the firm, I didn’t imagine that things could change,” says Ward. “But this has worked out great. I definitely spend less time at the office than a full-time attorney.” Typically, each attorney works 30 to 35 hours a week: Moody works Monday, Tuesday, and Friday; Ward works Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. On their days off, they take calls and answer email, and for their efforts, the attorneys are compensated 75% of a full-time equivalent.
Does job sharing require a lot of compatibility? “Luckily, we’re together in the office only one day a week,” jokes Ward. “In fact, it’s important that we appear seamless from the client’s perspective, so the inability to get along would prove quite ineffective—we’re emailing each other regularly and on the phone at least once a day.”
According to Ward, taking on an in-house corporate role has been a natural transition from the work that the attorneys did in the past. Both Moody and Ward have similar private practice experience in the management/defense side of labor and employment law. At Timberland, the pair’s primary client is the company’s human resources group, with whom they work on everything from hiring to discipline and termination issues, as well as employment litigation, employment benefit issues, and executive compensation.
While Moody, who recently completed his second marathon, concedes that colleagues from law school who have stayed in private practice are making more money than him, he insists that a less stressful lifestyle trumps financial gain every time. He adds that male attorneys have become increasingly interested in the mechanics of job sharing. “Ultimately,” he says, “it’s a lifestyle choice that we’ve made, and hopefully the stars will continue to be aligned so we can keep it going.” DB
Patrick Folliard is a freelance writer based in Silver Spring, Md.
From the March/April 2008 issue of Diversity & The Bar®