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Law firm 3 days a week, or flexible job as a law lecturer - what would you do?

(25 Posts)
ritherdon Wed 18-Mar-09 22:14:22

I have to decide between a pukka professional job 3 full days a week, or something more flexible in the academic arena. Really torn. I feel that if I go down the academic route that's it - I'll never get back on to the same professional track (in the London legal world) - BUT the flexibility and all holidays off would be wonderful. Having to ask myself some tough questions about how ambitious I am, where I see myself in 10 years etc. I have 3 boys - all very young (DS3 is 5 months old, DS2 is 2 and DS1 is 4).

Money, status, professional standing, vs. flexibility, lots of time off.


sis Wed 18-Mar-09 22:31:46

would the three days a week job actually be just three days a week or would you be working from home every evening and most weekends? just asking because my previous three days a week job was the sort where I was expected to put in the equivalent of 7 days a week but my current 30 hours a week job with a couple of days a week from home is just that without lots of unpaid overtime on a regular basis.

catinthehat1 Wed 18-Mar-09 22:34:22

"ACademic" cuts off later professional work.
"Professional" does not cut off later academic work.

I would go for the option which cuts off fewest choices at this stage ie professional route.

If you later decide you don't like it, then you can still reexamine your choice later on.

lisalisa Wed 18-Mar-09 22:36:17

Hmmm ritherdon - been having vaguely similar thought smyself.

I think the choice for you will come downto whether you ever expect to return to professional practice again. If you do don't go the academic route.

ritherdon Wed 18-Mar-09 22:39:03

Thanks catinthehat1 - a good way of looking at it. It's just hard when your heart tells you to be with the kids 24/7 - BUT my head says that in a relatively short time they'll all be at school, and I'll want to be in a position where I can up things a bit career wise. Also wouldn't want to be a full time SAHM - I enjoy the kids more and am a better mum when we have some time apart (and they appreciate me more too I think).

And 3 days a week would be ok - as far as I'm aware it wouldn't be lots from home, I've been very upfront about family committments.

lisalisa Thu 19-Mar-09 09:52:46

Actually ritherdon

I think when kids go to school is when you start ramping down as they do need you more at that stage not less. Harsh as it sounds when they are babies/toddlers as long as they are getting good childcare ( exercise/playdates/good food/fresh air) they don't miss you so much but when they get to school age they want you in the playground/at school assemblies /watching their plays/to take them to and from playdates/ to superivse their homework etc and I find the need is ten times tgreater at that age. I have 5 dcs aged between 3 and 12 yrs and find the need greatest at between about 4yrs and 8 yrs. Before that age and they're tired anway and need really a bedtime kiss - after that age and they're old enough to wait for you a bit after school but those middle years are the years when they really feel mum's absence in the playground etc.

meep Thu 19-Mar-09 09:56:00

can you imagine a life without time and fee targets though.........................bliss!

Libra Thu 19-Mar-09 09:58:59

Can I caution against the idea that a job as a lecturer would include 'all the holidays off'?

I have major childcare issues in the October and Easter school vacations - my university teaches throughout October and I have lectures scheduled on both Good Friday and Bank Holiday Monday this year.

I also do not get six weeks in the summer. I have supervision of postgrads throughout the summer, plus the August resits to mark, plus admin for the new semester.

In addition, according to my contract, a third of my academic time is to be spent on research. I tend to do this in the summer because it is very difficult to do in term-time. The summer is also when most of the conferences are held. If you want to be a professional academic, then you would need to attend some of these.

lisalisa Thu 19-Mar-09 10:06:34

Interesting Libra........

is that because you are a uni lecturer and researcher though which may be different to law lecturer at say law school where no research involved as faar as iknow

Kathyis6incheshigh Thu 19-Mar-09 10:12:04

Do you actually want to be an academic? Do you love teaching?
Because academia is not just about knowing your subject - these days you have to be prepared to get really into the pedagogical side of it as well. If you are already enthusiastic about that, it may be worth doing. If not, I wouldn't risk it as you will end up spending more time than you think on generic academia-related rather than law-related activity.

FWIW I have a friend who is a barrister and has always had one foot in academia. He gets to do all the fun stuff (writing books, going to conferences, occasional bits of teaching on things that particularly interest him) but has always been a professional first and foremost. He seems to pretty much have his cake and eat it as he gets to do the academic stuff on his terms!

Libra Thu 19-Mar-09 10:16:04

Lisalisa, you may be right. However, the Law School at our university is certainly very research active.

I would also caution about the part-time nature of the post. I have several (female) colleagues who work part time. All of them report having to do admin, marking and preparation in their own time because they are carrying a heavy teaching load in their three days.

I love my job, but you do have to realise that it is not as flexible or stressfree as those outside academia sometimes think it will be. I moved from business to lecturing and would never go back, but I think I work harder at the university than I ever did in business. And students think of themselves as 'customers' these days.

Indiechick Thu 19-Mar-09 10:18:50

I would say go for the 3 day a week and try it for a year. If it's pants and not working then look into academia. It sounds like you could go from job to academia but not the other way round.

georgimama Thu 19-Mar-09 10:22:32

How old are you?

How many years qualified are you?

All other things being equal would you actually want to take this route or would you remain in private practice?

ritherdon Thu 19-Mar-09 14:30:30

I'm 35 so still got alot of years of work ahead of me. Also, I know this may sound a bit petty and churlish, but I'm at a stage where friends are starting to really take off professionally (becoming partners in firms, one is even a District Judge) and I don't want to get left behind! It seems soooo unfair to me that us mums have to make such hard choices. All part of being a woman I suppose!

Thanks everyone for all the points about a life lecturing not being all roses! I had anticipated that it'd be fun, and a bit of a doss, to be honest, but it clearly isn't. Nothing in life ever is, is it.

Also, the point about kids needing you more as they get a bit bigger is something I definitely need to chew over. May be better now to do 3 days in an office, then by the time I need more flexibility I'll have been in the job for 2 years or so and will have a better chance at sorting something out (working from home a bit etc).

Thanks all so much, you're really helping me to clarify things. smile

georgimama Thu 19-Mar-09 14:33:19

Don't worry about career leaving you behind - you're qualified. You're one up on me (in middle of training contract at 30 - the shame).

ritherdon Thu 19-Mar-09 14:38:06

And georgimama, if I didn't have kids I'd be hopefully reaching for the stars career wise (or trying to, at least) - working hard and playing hard which is what I did in the old days! I wouldn't swap my life now for then, not for a second, but I can't help feeling annoyed that men have it so easy. As a woman you have to make your choice to slow down professionally and suck it up. I always feel a bit irked when I meet people socially who know me now I'm a bit fat and frumpy and mumsy and they look completely astonished when I say I'm a lawyer!!!! So insulting! And then the other day the hairdresser couldn't believe that my mum was my mum. I think she thought we were sisters or something. Now, my mum does look good for her age, but really! I'm 35, she's 62 - so does that mean I look at least 10 years older than I am!! Will shut up now, getting into a bit of a rant!

AxisofEvil Sat 21-Mar-09 18:57:25

I know I'm coming at this v late but do you mean actual academic teaching as in undergrads etc or more like professional studies for the LPC etc? If the latter I know a couple of people who have done it and they've always left after 1-2 years as they haven't enjoyed it.

mazzap Sat 16-May-09 03:56:33

ritheron I think you should give the 3 day job a go if you don't like it you can always resign. I am coming back to the UK In August and have called an agency and they didn't seem very positive. Before I came out to Cyprus with my husband In 2006 I was working as court clerk in the magistrates and loving it but they wouldn't give me a career break. So my background is crime for 4 years and prior to that PI, family and clinical negligence. I have had mixed opinions from others, use and abuse the agencies and send some personal letters and cvs to specific firms. What do you think? Many thanks :0

mazzap Sat 16-May-09 03:57:04

Oh and I had my dd in Nov last year!

Judy1234 Sat 16-May-09 22:09:13

My older 3 are in their 20s. The family has benefited so much from the fact I worked full time in the City when they were the age yours were. Why not go back to work full time properly int eh firm not just 3 days a week. Part time is the worst of all worlds and in the 20 years of your career after they cease wanting you you and they benefit so much from the fact you have that career.

hellywobs Wed 03-Jun-09 12:37:44

If you teach the LPC you get about 7 weeks off a year I think. I don't think that would close off returning to practice at a later date. Even teaching in a law school wouldn't. I'd do the academic job and do some locum work from time to time to keep your hand in in practice.

LittleOneMum Wed 03-Jun-09 14:54:09

what about coming to the Bar instead? I did that, it's really flexible (holidays whenever you like technically...)

saladsucks Wed 03-Jun-09 23:10:55

What about working in house. I moved from top city law firm doing commercial litigation to in house, general commercial. Large pay cut but regular hours (9-5.30). I rarely work late, my boss is (relatively) understanding re sick children and childcare emergencies and my office is full of working mothers (which is great when I have an attack of guilt etc).
I feel like I have a career, without all the pressure of city law firms and everything that goes with it.

I also highly recommend Fiona Miller's book - Secret Life of a Working Mother for helping you deal with the fact that men have it easy and we have 3 jobs (before the paid employment).

ritherdon Sun 07-Jun-09 21:26:07

Actually, things have changed since I posted this message and NEITHER job came off! I've now set up my own consultancy, and so far so good. However, I'm working harder than ever (evenings, weekends) whilst I build things up and I feel so guilty! DS3 is 6 months and adorable, and I have an excellent nanny who comes part time, and he's very happy, but I'm suffering. I keep thinking i should stop altogether, and enjoy the kids. But money and the longer term picture stop me. It's so hard being a working mum. BUT with 3 under 4 being a SAHM would be harder I feel! And round and round it all goes in my mind!

ritherdon Sun 07-Jun-09 21:26:10

Actually, things have changed since I posted this message and NEITHER job came off! I've now set up my own consultancy, and so far so good. However, I'm working harder than ever (evenings, weekends) whilst I build things up and I feel so guilty! DS3 is 6 months and adorable, and I have an excellent nanny who comes part time, and he's very happy, but I'm suffering. I keep thinking i should stop altogether, and enjoy the kids. But money and the longer term picture stop me. It's so hard being a working mum. BUT with 3 under 4 being a SAHM would be harder I feel! And round and round it all goes in my mind!

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