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off and using a job board organiser called Trello. “One less day is doable with the same workload – with a mindset of being more productive.” On his day off Chris only checks his emails a couple of times a day and only responds to urgent matters. He has set clear boundaries with people at work and they know to contact him by phone rather than email if something is urgent. Anne-Marie McRae, however, admits that she does get stressed and rarely switches off. She is also more than happy to come into work on her day off in order to accommodate client needs. This is easier, she says, being in a small town where the commute is five minutes and parking is free. Anne-Marie says she and her husband are not the kind of people that switch off. “Andrew and I talk about work – we talk in the morning at breakfast – we talk about work over dinner and we talk about work while we are watching television. We are terrible. I check my emails right up to when I fall asleep and I will probably check them if I wake up in the night – I know that is really bad.” Helen Mackay says she is very happy in her role as Director of Juno Legal to the point that it doesn’t feel like work. She does lots of interesting work across the in-house legal sector on both a paid and unpaid basis, has a good work/ life balance where she balances time with her children, community work and tennis around her work day. Helen says she sets key priorities every morning and once these are achieved she decides whether she is still working productively or whether she should head home for some downtime with the kids and then jump back online in the evening when she is refreshed. Jenny Turner is prepared to say no to work if she is over-committed; however, for her own peace of mind she checks her emails on her day off.
Career advancement – less exciting legal work?
“We don’t have all the answers – but have a clear bottom line and areas for negotiation. It’s not always 100% perfect, but generally it works well and one of our founding values is to enjoy what we do."
This can be a drawback for those opting to work parttime. Anne-Marie McRae recently had a review with another partner in the firm who asked her whether she would ultimately want to be a partner. She doesn’t see it as possible at the moment due to her part-time status. Jenny Turner says she has had no problems with career development – she was promoted while on maternity leave – however, she did choose to change the type of work she was doing. While working full-time Jenny predominantly acted on transactional property law work, which involved multiple fast-moving files. On her return to part-time work, she could see that confirmations, correspondence with clients and solicitors and settlements would need to be completed on her day off. Rather than take a team approach to those files and delegate on a piecemeal basis, Jenny has elected to delegate and supervise that work from the outset to ensure those transactions are not affected by her absence from the office and that her clients have continuity of service. Fortunately, there have been some bigger projects such as client asset planning, subdivision work, and other less time critical files that she has been able to work on, “the work I do has definitely changed with my working arrangements.” While Christine doesn’t feel disadvantaged by working part-time she admits that she probably is “slipping behind” colleagues who work full-time and carry out more networking activities for the firm. She wouldn’t mind moving into a different role which would utilise her other skills. She has also completed a design degree and is attracted to roles that relate to tech disruption, apps to complement law firms, better user interface technology and marketing/development and modernising law firms. She isn’t driven by joining a partnership but does enjoy meeting and helping clients. Christine says her work is now different to a standard lawyer’s role because she is focusing on ongoing trust work. She now manages and administers the firm’s trusts and has client meetings and contact. She isn’t involved in as many urgent or deadline-based files, which suits being part-time, as there isn’t the time-pressure to prevent her from picking up children from care. For the employees of Claro this is not an issue as their part-time staff are generally flexible – if there is a hearing they can usually accommodate that. “We don’t have all the answers – but have a clear bottom line and areas for negotiation. It’s not always 100% perfect, but generally it works well and one of our founding values is to enjoy what we do. We want happy lawyers.” 57