Dirty nappies, the pros and cons of sleep training and the most recent development in the law on contractual interpretation are not usually topics of conversation that go hand in hand. However, as a new mum returning to work following 10 months of maternity leave they were all topics of conversation during my first week back in the office.
I have to confess that prior to returning I was filled with trepidation – would I fit back into office life and would I even remember how to be a lawyer never mind navigating my new role as a lawyer and a working mum?
It turns out that with the support of a family friendly, modern firm my fears were alleviated. Since initially joining Gilson Gray in 2015 I have been struck by what a modern, progressive firm it is and with the arrival of my little boy I have realised just how supportive and family-friendly my team and the wider firm is. Within my immediate team there are 11 babies (5 within the last 2 years) and therefore having a young family is not seen as a hindrance to career progression in the way that it may have once been in the legal industry. By way of example, during an initial discussion regarding my return to work with my head of department, her response to my request to work 3 days a week was that it was entirely natural and that she was supportive of it. As a mum with a young family herself she was also on hand to reassure me that while I would, of course, find the return a little challenging at times, there were definite perks to returning (finishing a hot cup of coffee being one!).
The partners and the management board were entirely open to my views in terms of the hours and days I would work and wanted to make sure that I was completely happy with the arrangement. Since my return all of the partners have checked in with me to make sure the arrangement is working for me and my family – they genuinely care about whether it works for everyone – for me personally as well as commercially for the firm and they are open to ideas and suggestions to allow that to happen. I was welcomed back with open arms and a large bundle of files and found that I quickly slotted back into the team. My colleagues were delighted at my return and I was even taken for a team lunch on my first week back to celebrate.
I’ve also found that working part time gives me an even sharper focus on my work. I find myself making the most of the more limited time I have in the office and working more efficiently as a result. I really appreciate both the time at home with the family and the time I spend in the office building my career. I’m very lucky that the firm’s IT systems support a greater degree of flexibility than would have been the case even a few years ago.
Juggling motherhood and career ambitions isn’t always easy I but with the help of a family-friendly, supportive firm I have not only eased back into working life but I am really enjoying it.
The information and opinions contained in this blog are for information only. They are not intended to constitute advice and should not be relied upon or considered as a replacement for advice. Before acting on any of the information contained in this blog, please seek specific advice from Gilson Gray.