Corporate solicitor in need of a change(5 Posts)
I am a corporate solicitor in the City, 8 years PQE, 3 kids. I’ve back at work from last mat leave for 6 months.
I work 4 days, 1 of which is from home, and have done for a while. Often end up doing some work on my day off.
Work is up and down, but coming out of a particularly crazy period doing very long days.
I like my job but don’t love it. It is all-consuming when you are mid-transaction and that just isn’t compatible with being a mum of young kids if you want to see them.
I’ve been thinking about making a change for ages. Have put it off for pregnancies / mat leave thinking that something might change but it hasn't. The hours over the last few weeks have made me realise that I need to make a change sooner rather than later. It is making me miserable.
The question is what I do.
Do I take some time out to spend with the kids? I don’t see myself as a SAHM forever so would I ever get back into a (legal) career if I took a break?
Do I try contracting or sign up for lawyers on demand type work potentially where there is an option to work from home? Anyone who does that how do you deal with childcare if work is unpredictable?
In-house could be an option if it brought flexibility.
Happy at this stage to trade a pay cut for more reasonable hours and less stress.
Interested to know what moves have worked for other people in a similar boat.
Hi Rups - I appreciate your post was a few months ago but I thought I would reply as I'm in a similar boat. Have you made a decision about what to do? I'd be interested to hear what you decided to do!
I'm quite a bit less qualified than you but have the same concerns. As things stand I will never see my young child if I have to carry on working the way my firm expects me to . I have asked to work 4 days a week and have been told that's impossible when working in Corporate Law. They have even said that I can't work from home one day per week on a fixed basis (all of this while getting recognition for being a 'top employer for women' and doing press releases about their commitment to flexible working and promoting women...). The logical step is to leave, especially as I no longer love Corporate Law and I take home hardly anything after childcare and commuting costs, but I don't know what else I could do? All the in house jobs want previous experience and I'm worried that if I quit altogether for a few years then I'll never get a legal job again.
Have you looking into locum work? Or changing to a new area of law altogether?
I'd go for part time or a job share in this situation. Places like local government tend to be more receptive to that sort of arrangement.
There are a few options:
1) if you really want to be at home a lot more (eg doing school pick ups at 3pm and being home for the school holidays) then LoD/Axiom etc are probably more realistic than trying to find a part time 'school hours/term time only' legal job. You'll want the 'draft a contract at home' type of jobs rather than the 'go in for a 6 month mat leave cover' type.
Obvs assumes you have a reliable income coming in from elsewhere as income would be unpredictable and vastly less than in private practice.
2) If you want to reliably be home by 6pm and maybe work 4 days a week then an in house position might give you that but they really vary. Many in house positions involve a lot of travel to different group companies (as many legal teams are centralised) and can require attending corporate events in the evening.
Public sector is more likely to offer regular hours and no travel (and the pay will reflect that). Don't assume the public sector offers working from home or flexi-time (the GLS often does but many local authorities don't - often the price for leaving at 5.30pm is you need to be in the office).
3) If you just want to give up transactional work (and the 'lumpy' hours it brings) then perhaps look into knowledge management roles. The hours can still be long though with some evening events.
If you take a career break try to have a plan for how long and how you're going to get back in. Will you keep in touch with contacts? Attend legal training events? Do bits for LoD/Axiom etc in the interim? How would you feel if the break became permanent?
I've known lots of lawyers leave private practice (fee earning roles) once they've had children - they've either gone in-house or taken career breaks (effectively become SAHMs).
I know one who is registered with LoD etc (she has a live in nanny for the childcare flexibility and her husband is a corporate partner - for the reliable income).
I don't know any lawyer who works term time/school hours - but then I only know lawyers in 'commercial/corporate/projects' types of law - it might be different if you practice probate or conveyancing.
Hive - Thank you for your helpful post! I would love to do LoD/Axiom/Vario but don't think I would get a lot of work as I am quite junior and not London-based. I also worry about having to pay for insurance then not getting much work in.
I would also love to work In House, but where I am there are very few opportunities and they all seem to want 5-6 PQE+.
It seems like the only options are to stay in private practice (which means I never see my child) or become a SAHM (which I'd be happy to do, but worry I'll never get back into Law again and will have wasted all those years of study!).
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