Whether you’re newly returning to the workplace after parental leave, or you’re trying to find your place in the working world with children a few years down the line, it’s tough. Law is a sector that’s not exactly famous for its flexibility. This can leave parents wondering where they fit in. Is it possible to have a career you love whilst also putting your family first?
Anyone with a young family will find themselves returning to the workforce with new priorities. Often, this includes struggling to fit your schedule and work needs around that of your family. The tropes of a traditional law firm, with extended hours, challenging billing targets, and often lengthy commutes, doesn’t mix well with family life. But at Setfords, we believe our offering makes the transition to working parenthood as smooth as possible.
So, what exactly should you look for when building a career that suits both you and your family’s needs?
Prioritise flexibility and work-life balance
When it comes to juggling being a parent and a lawyer, finding the perfect balance is near-on impossible. Spend too much time at work, and you worry about not spending enough time with your family. But, spend more time away from work, and become concerned about falling behind in your career. So, it’s all about finding what works for you by prioritising work-life balance and a role that offers true flexibility.
With the rise in work-from-home offerings from traditional law firms, you may be sucked into believing this will give you the flexibility you need to achieve the right balance. But, there’s not a massive difference between working a twelve-hour day in the office and doing the same hours from home.
You’re still often tied to your desk, just without the commute. What working parents genuinely need for a good work-life balance is complete flexibility. In other words, the opportunity to work when and where they want, outside of the traditional nine to five.
This is something that Claire Konstantino, a Conveyancing solicitor and mother to three boys, agrees with. Claire had only been back from maternity leave for six weeks when her previous role was made redundant due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A former colleague had already joined Setfords, which gave her the confidence to try consultancy. And, it’s a decision she doesn’t regret.
She says, “I take my boys to school and nursery every morning and return home just before 9 am to start work. If I am really busy, I may sometimes get up earlier to draft some emails before everyone wakes up, but this is not very often. I pick my boys up every day too.”– Claire Konstantino, Conveyancing Solicitor
This goes to show how the consultancy model that we offer at Setfords is perfect for working parents like Claire. It allows them to fit their work commitments around family life, whatever that looks like. We know that different people have different priorities, which is why our lawyers are free to set their schedules. And, this includes working as much or as little as they wish- whether that’s part-time, full time, or different hours every week.
Plus, they can work around daily commitments such as taking the children to school without having to worry about falling behind. For the working parent, there is truly no better way to achieve as a lawyer.
Don’t be afraid to make your career a priority
After all, it’s not all about family life. Most working parents strive to have a successful career that fulfils them. It’s just that it’s hard to fit this around a family. But with our model, you can work the hours that suit you and your family whilst also delivering a superior service for your clients.
Dymphna Powell is a specialist in Probate and Family law with four children aged between 7 and 18. This is a sentiment she agrees with, saying,
“I moved to Setfords as I felt that it offers a different legal model from a traditional high street practice, which provides the client with greater choice. From a professional working perspective, I was attracted to the autonomy and flexibility the practice offers to legal practitioners, to have a better work-life balance.”– Dymphna Powell, Family and Probate Solicitor
As Dymphna demonstrates, it’s the best of both worlds. A better work-life balance and greater flexibility often leads to happier, more productive lawyers, which in turn benefits clients. So, you don’t have to feel like you’re forced to choose between your family, career, and clients to feel fulfilled.
Seek out a firm that truly wants to support working parents
When coming back from maternity leave or juggling parenthood with your career, it’s essential to find a firm that supports you. In the UK, women make up around 59% of non-partner solicitors, but just 33% of partners. The reasons for this are complex, but it’s clear that firms can do more to support women, many of whom are mothers, to progress in their careers.
At Setfords, we understand that flexible working is key for parents. But, our support goes far beyond that, too. We take care of admin for you with our secretaries and administrative staff. There’s also support available for everything from marketing to compliance.
So, more of your time at work is spent on your clients, without other tasks lingering on your mind. The ultimate aim of this is so that you can get your job done efficiently, leaving you free to spend more time with your family.
We strive for supporting working parents, and our lawyers agree that our support services help them balance their workloads. Sarah McCaughey is a Residential Conveyancing solicitor. She has two boys and joined Setfords after returning to work part-time after maternity leave. Here, she found that she would rather focus her efforts on working as a consultant and the flexibility this brings, instead of being tied down working hard for someone else to benefit.
She says, “I can hand on heart say that the support we receive from Setfords as a whole is second to none. The accounts team provide fast, effective service and are always happy to assist. We have an admin support team at head office and also an external team of typists which means I can effectively manage my workload. We also have a fantastic registration team that deals with all post-registration matters, which takes away the pressure of post-completion files.
There is also a compliance team who are available for queries which is imperative in my line of work to ensure that all guidelines are adhered to, and a business development team who can assist in bringing work to your business. All staff are friendly, hardworking and helpful!– Sarah McCaughey, Property Solicitor
What traditional law firm can offer all of that and more, alongside the benefits that come from true flexibility? No matter how many hours they choose to work, our lawyers all have access to the same support services and opportunities for flexibility. But in reality, these are not benefits in the traditional sense. They’re not things you have to apply for, nor do you have to present a business case and hope it gets approved.
Instead, it’s just how we work. By treating our lawyers as people, they can do their best work – it’s as simple as that. You have the freedom to do your job in a way that suits you and your family. And, there’s absolutely no stigma attached, as everyone else is doing it too!
Don’t be afraid to veer from the traditional path
When newly qualified, most lawyers see a clear path ahead of them for their working lives. Usually, this involves working their way up a firm until they become a partner. Of course, this can bring rewards, financial and otherwise. But it also requires a lot of sacrifices, with long hours and strict billing targets. And, this doesn’t fit in too well with family life. What if you could take on a role with many of the same benefits without the added stress?
This is something that Tom Mitchell, a commercial, employment, and regulatory consultant solicitor with two young daughters, knows all too well.
He says, “Life is about enjoying your work and enjoying your time with the children. I always wanted to spend time with the kids. I just wanted to find the right balance. Now I feel like I’m spending time with them, whether that time is taking them to nursery or picking them up or just taking them to the playground. A situation where my children were being dropped off at 8 am and picked up at 6 pm didn’t feel fair on me or the children.”– Tom Mitchell, Commerical, Employment and Regulatory Solicitor
At Setfords, we offer parents like Tom more than just a job. We offer a lifestyle that works for you and your family. With our huge array of support departments on hand to help you, the opportunity to set your own hours, targets and clients, as well as the ability to work whenever and wherever you wish, there has never been a better time to embrace consultancy as a working parent.
You no longer have to choose between a successful career as a lawyer and one that fits around family life. If you want a flexible, balanced and rewarding career that puts you and your family first, Setfords is here for you.