The legal profession is known for being a hard-driving, long-hours culture. But that is changing. Law firms have come a long way in implementing flexible and part-time working arrangements for existing staff.
That is something to bear in mind if you are a lawyer who expects to be expecting. Going on maternity leave is usually a beautiful time in a woman’s life. But returning to work can feel daunting and many women start to question how they can successfully combine their role as a lawyer with that of a parent.
Becoming a mother does not put the brakes on ambition and many female lawyers want to critically evaluate their position when they decide that they are ready to go back to work. For some, they may just be happy to go back to their old role. For others, they may wish to change speciality, look for work in another firm, become a consultant solicitor or work part-time.
The reality is that there are many options for new mothers. Here are a few to consider:
Staying where you are
If you’re happy with your previous place of work, this is the easiest solution. You may want to consider asking for flexible hours so you can fit your work around your family life. Another option is to work from home on certain days, if possible.
Law firms do on occasion hire part-time lawyers, but usually if they are unable to hire a full-time lawyer. If taking a cut on your salary isn’t a problem, then this may be a good solution that will allow you to spend time with your newborn baby and still continue working.
Become a consultant solicitor
A great option for returning mothers is to become a consultant solicitor. Many lawyers are switching to a more flexible work routine, growing tired of the long commutes, late nights, office politics and lack of control, just to name a few.
By becoming a freelance lawyer, not only can you spend time with your family and control your working hours exactly as you please, there also many more benefits that may be of interest to you.
It’s highly recommend that you put some support in place. You should focus 100% of your time on your clients and get someone to help take care of the rest. Find a good company, Passion for Law is a good example if you’re in the UK, who will provide you with admin, paralegal and IT support.
By working for a legal firm that supports freelancers, you will also get access to their hot desk facilities, allowing you to work in an office if you feel like a change of scenery from working from home. This will also allow you to collaborate with other lawyers, and through referrals you can help each other get new clients.
As you can see, you have several options. Going back to work may feel scary at the beginning, but with the right information and support, you will find what suits you best. Even the most successful returners have found that being away dents their self-esteem, so building an effective support system is essential. Good luck!