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Work in progress

Every Issue

Cite as: December 2012 86 (12) LIJ, p.100

In this special LIJ series practitioners reveal how they balance the demands of their professional and personal lives.
Name

Andrea Tsalamandris

Firm

Holding Redlich

Position

Partner

Hours worked

Full-time, but I enjoy early finish times

Why did you seek a flexible work arrangement?

As an adoring mum and a partner in a law firm, working full-time and long hours in the office was never going to work. I decided I didn’t want to always miss out on getting my boys from school and sharing in their after-school activities. So at least once a week I start work at 6am so I can leave in time to meet my boys at school. I also make sure I leave the office by 5pm each night (unless an emergency hits) so that I can be at home to have dinner together and help them with homework. If I then still have some work to be done, I do that when they are asleep – from the comfort of my home.

How did you convince your employer?

As the parenting partner at my firm I have always been an advocate for flexibility for working parents and my firm has long-standing policies supporting such arrangements. So although I never had to convince anyone to let me work flexible hours, I always try to make sure that my arrangements suit both my clients and work colleagues. I am conscious of being flexible in the days I leave early –so although I try and make it one set day a week, I move it to another day if needed.

What are the challenges of working flexibly – for you, colleagues and clients?

It is a balance between being reasonably predictable in the hours you work (so colleagues and clients know when to get you), but also showing flexibility when required. As a personal injury lawyer, I cannot control when a case is listed for hearing – so if I am needed in court I will just move the day I leave early to another day in the week that suits better – and let the people that work with me know this.

I often feel like I am being pulled in many directions, but I always knew trying to juggle work and home life would be tricky and exhausting – so accepting that is half the challenge.

Have flexible hours kept you practising law?

I could not have survived as a full-time partner without the flexibility I enjoy. Knowing I can have some time each week to spend with my kids, away from the pressures of the office, has kept me balanced, happy and relatively stress free.

What is your proudest moment in the law?

Being involved in the Stolen Generations litigation for the Northern Territory Aborigines was an early highlight, but more recently it has been running the discrimination case for Victorian school children who complain they are segregated from their school friends when special religious instruction is taught in state secular schools each week. This is another pro bono case which I have been very proud to be a part of.

Do you have flexible work options?

Then complete our online questionnaire by following this link: http://ow.ly/b3UCV

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