Flexible working as a lawyer or solicitor

When you think about flexible working, professional roles are not the first to come to mind. Work as a lawyer (or other professional) does not conjure up connotations of a flexible working lifestyle that allows for time and space for an enjoyable family life.

However, now more than ever the opportunities for flexible working are on the increase.

Why? Because and perceptions are changing around the need to put in face time in the office or work like crazy in order to make an impact.

Now is the time to work smarter and not harder.

You may be wondering how is that even possible. Here are 3 options:

Flexible working options in the legal profession

1. Negotiate with current employer

Your current firm or organisation knows you and your work. It takes a firm a significant amount of time and money to employ someone new. It’s highly likely that your firm will want to keep you if they can.

Get clear on what your perfect ideal scenario would be (e.g working 4 days a week with one of those working from home) and then consider what your “I could live with that” scenario would be. Your negotiating position will be better if you know exactly what you want.

Think hard about the current firm / organisation set up and how your flexible working proposal could work for both sides. It may mean a shift in practice area or getting creative with your working times. Remember this is a flexible working request so be as flexible as possible.  

2. Explore Legal Consulting

Consulting is become a popular way to find flexibility in your legal career. If you are open to moving away from private practice, there are a number of companies such as Obelisk Support and My Business Counsel  that will match you with organisations that require a lawyer on either a flexible, part-time or short-term basis.

You can gain really great exposure to quality work in a variety of settings. This allows you to keep your career going in this season of life and then look to get into something more permanent if and when your circumstances change.

3. Secure a new job

If you find no joy with your firm and you are not keen on consulting, look for a new position.  I know that part-time roles seem to come up few and far between but the reality is that most vacancies are not advertised. They tend to be filled through networking and referrals.

What does that mean for you? Start networking and connecting with colleagues, friends and family.   I landed my part-time legal counsel role through a referral. People can only refer you if they know you are looking, so be sure to spread the word about what you are looking for amongst family and friends. 

In an interview I conducted with Stephanie Dillon of Inclusivity, a recruitment agency dedicated to helping people who are returning to work, she advised that people should search in the full-time pool of vacancies and negotiate a flexible working schedule later. If you impress a potential employer enough they may be willing to accept your request for flexibility if it means having you on their team.

So you see, there are options! It is not always easy to get the flexibility you need but it is possible. If you need some support with mapping out your plan of action for securing the flexibility you need to continue your career and manage your family, drop me a line at janine@lightboxcoaching.com

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