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Flexibility: Work in progress

Flexibility: Work in progress

By SMR Legal

Workplace Relations 

SMR Legal, Shepparton Director Alex Sheed-Finck, Special counsel Mary Stewart, Lawyer Erica Molyneaux, Lawyer Nicole Cavallaro, Lawyer Maree Leschke Why do you work flexibly? Mary Stewart: Flexibility was important to me when my mother became ill. If children and home life are not settled, I can’t focus on work. Alex Sheed-Finck: Through the effective use of remote technology, I work part of the week in Melbourne where I live and part of the week in Shepparton. Professionally, this has allowed me to develop an increasing client base. How does your organisation accommodate flexibility? Erica Molyneaux: SMR Legal was founded on the trailblazing approach of two of its founding directors – Suzanna Sheed and Mary Stewart. The firm provides all employees with flexible work practices. SMR Legal’s view is that flexible arrangements produce contented staff which instils the loyalty required to build a well respected practice. All 11 lawyers have the capacity to work from home, four work less than full time, and two regularly work offsite. What are the challenges of working flexibly? Mary Stewart: Managing the workflow and keeping up with everything that happens on the file. You have to learn to delegate efficiently and then prioritise things that can’t be delegated. Nicole Cavallaro: Having court matters listed on the two days a week I am not in the office can be challenging, however, I am well supported by my colleagues and employers. Have flexible hours kept you practising law? Maree Leschke: The opportunity to practise part-time enabled me to return to the law after some years away. Erica Molyneaux: Flexible work practices enabled me to begin my career as a (later) lawyer at a time when I was juggling the needs of young children. Eight years later, a similar approach enables me to be engaged and involved with my work and with my children’s school life. What are the personal benefits of working flexibly? Maree Leschke: My husband and I have four children between us. A flexible approach enables me to continue to meet their needs while fulfilling my aspiration to work. Alex Sheed-Finck: A flexible working arrangement has allowed both my wife and I to pursue our professional ambitions without compromise. My wife, Rebekah Farrell, works at the LIV as a policy lawyer. Will you work flexibly long term? Nicole Cavallaro: Yes. A supportive firm and colleagues, and technology, facilitate this. Erica Molyneaux: If it suits my family, I can see returning to full time hours in the years ahead because I really enjoy my work. I appreciate the ability to work from home too.

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