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Flexibility

Every Issue

Cite as: August 2015 89 (8) LIJ, p.77

Work in progress

Practitioners reveal how they balance the demands of their professional and personal lives.

Julie Clayton

Principal lawyer, Slater and Gordon
What hours do you work and where?

Monday 10am-1pm, Tuesday 9.30am-6pm, Wednesday 9.30am-6pm, Thursday 10am-2pm, all in the La Trobe St office.

Why do you work flexibly?

I have four daughters aged from five to 12 (pictured) and I want to spend time with them. My mother has Alzheimer’s disease and still lives alone, so being able to take her to medical appointments and do her banking is important.

How does your organisation accommodate flexibility?

I start later so I can do school drop-off. On the days I don’t have after-school care I can do the school pick-up and after-school activities. I think flexibility needs to be embedded in the culture of an organisation. We have a lot of men and women who work flexible hours, work from home or work part time. When senior people at an organisation are working flexibly it sends the message that flexible work hours are a viable alternative.

What are the challenges of working flexibly?

It’s challenging when the demands of work go outside your in-office hours and the work requires that you be in the office. Court work is not flexible but fortunately you usually have plenty of notice of trials to make arrangements. You can’t expect everyone to remember when you are in. My workplace has been really good about this but I think it can be challenging for junior lawyers to speak up. Also it can be difficult to understand (until you are in the situation) how hard it is to arrange childcare, especially at short notice.

Have flexible hours kept you practising law?

Undoubtedly. It would not have been feasible for me without flexibility and I wouldn’t have enjoyed it so much.

What are the personal benefits of working flexibly?

For me, spending more time with my kids, being more present at the school and in the school community. I don’t work Fridays so I am available for family and friends. It gives me a bit of time to pursue other interests, though these seem to get squeezed in around all the other demands on my time. I like to make things and I do sometimes get the chance to spend a day sewing.

Will you work flexibly long term?

I have been working flexibly for 12 years. Now that my kids are getting older I can foresee a time when I would choose more conventional days and hours of work, but at the moment it suits me.

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