Does your organisation accommodate your need for reasonable flexibility?
As a corporate lawyer, flexibility in working arrangements can be difficult to find and achieve. There’s a stereotype that corporate lawyers should have long, rigid hours and spend the majority of their awake hours buried in contracts, chained to their desk. While this stereotype may suit some, it’s not currently for me. And it may not be for many working parents in professional roles trying to organise work and young children.
At present I like to juggle my working week as the Corporate Lawyer at Davidson with my kids swimming lessons (in a heated pool, though I’m not sure of the source of the heating), kids drama lessons, rugby tots (think 4 year olds attempting to catch a ball whilst being distracted by sticks), and at least a dozen repeats of Despicable Me.
I’m lucky enough to have found a supportive organisation that allows me to have the flexibility I need. I work three days per week, getting in early and literally running out of the door in time to pick my children up. I believe I’m productive during the hours I work and generally manage to stay on top of the company’s legal affairs. Unlike other positions, in this role there’s no time for planning future holidays. I apologise to my past employers for this admission. My work is stimulating and I feel like I’m a better parent for being able to pursue my career.
I do work on my legal skills the days I’m at home. My negotiation abilities are tested when my four year old refuses to take off his Spiderman costume for a shower, my mediation skills get a work out when he won’t share the transformer with the two year old, and my risk assessment competencies come into action when deciding whether to break up a sword fight or use Darwinian principles so I can use the five minutes to respond to a few emails.
Given I have flexibility at work, I’m happier, enjoy my work, and embrace the organisation that I’m in. Sure, there are days when I have to take work calls at home with the Wiggles in the background or undertake an urgent contract review at 9pm when the kids are in bed. But there are also days when I leave work early because my child’s snot is no longer an acceptable colour and I’m apparently a terrible parent for taking my child to day care. But when you’re working for supporting people in a supportive organisation, having a career and being the primary caregiver are not mutually exclusive concepts. Both are achievable.
If your organisation won’t allow you the flexibility you need, perhaps it’s time to have a chat to one of my colleagues at Davidson.
Candice Lee is a Corporate Lawyer at Davidson.