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Flexibility: Work in progress

Every Issue

Cite as: July 2014 88 (07) LIJ, p.99

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

Name: Jessica Fletcher
Firm: Hall & Wilcox Lawyers
Position: Special counsel, employment team
Hours worked and where: Monday to Thursday in the office

Why did you seek a flexible work arrangement?

As a parent of two young children it is important to me to have quality time at home with them. My flexible work arrangement allows me to have this time with my children but also gives me the opportunity to continue with my career, which is important to me.

How did you convince your employer?

It didn’t take a lot of convincing. My firm has a number of people successfully working flexibly and, in my case, I was employed on the same flexible work arrangements I had with my previous firm. That said, over time my work arrangements have varied to meet my changing personal and professional needs. I have achieved these changes through a process of open and honest communication with my supervisors.

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

My biggest challenge was to accept that working flexibly didn’t mean I had to complete a full-time workload in reduced hours. To make working flexibly effective, I believe good communication is essential. It is important to be effective at delegating and supervising work and communicating with your supervisors and colleagues about workload, timeframes and client expectations. This also means that speaking with your clients at the outset about their expectations for when work is to be performed and by whom is important, including how they can contact you if you are not in the office or who else can assist them in your absence.

Have flexible hours kept you practising law?

Absolutely. I work in a supportive environment and I do not believe my flexible work arrangements are an impediment to practising law or building a practice within my team and achieving my professional goals.

My proudest moment in the law has been . . .

My appointment to senior associate at my previous firm. I am also proud of the fact that I was approached by Hall & Wilcox to come and work with them. That said, my proudest moments are when a junior lawyer thanks me for mentoring them and saying that they have learnt from me and when a client goes out of their way to thank you for the work you have done for them.

Do you envisage working flexibly long term?

While I expect that the type of flexible work arrangements I work under will change from time to time, I do envisage working flexibly longer term.

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