After having my first child, my firm offered me a flexible working arrangement when I returned to work. I left the office at 4pm, hung out with my son until 7pm and then worked from home in the evening after his bedtime. I also worked from home one day a week.
I cringe when I recall all the emails I sent over my time spent in private practice asking to postpone a commitment because things are “super hectic,” “crazy busy” or “manic.” No doubt the image that formed in the mind of the recipient was of me in a state of frenzy, hair on end, blouse untucked, shoes off and kicked under the desk, lurching around the office in stockinged feet. Probably not far from the truth, but hardly an image that portrays dignity and leadership.
The ‘C word’ was present in practically every performance review I received from my early days as an articled clerk and trainee lawyer, later as a junior lawyer, a senior associate and eventually as a partner in a law firm.
I've been there myself. I remember once being told I couldn't get a promotion because my peers weren't moving at the same pace as I was and I couldn't be promoted in isolation (I kid you not - that was actually what I was told!) A couple of weeks later, one of those peers got the promotion I had asked for ..... So if you're one of the many who missed out this year, I feel your feels.
20 years on and I’m regularly contacted by young lawyers who are seeking advice around career direction, career progression, specialisation, an international expat legal career and maintaining some semblance of work-life balance. Whereas I fumbled my way through the early years of my career; trusting my gut as to the direction to take, I thought it would be helpful to set out the top 10 things I wish I’d known as a young lawyer which would have helped smooth my journey up the corporate ladder.
We do not expect blueberries to grow in a day, or to grow without the right “cultural” conditions - good seeds, good soil, enough water and sunlight. So why would we expect it to work when it comes to “growing” healthy lawyers?
Having a healthy mindset is not a luxury, but a must if we are to have longevity, perform at our best manage our clients and effectively contribute to society.
While a lot has been said about how working from home during the pandemic has provided greater work/life balance, burnout it also a topic on the tip of everyone's tongues.
As a female leader, do we have to be hard on the outside and soft on the inside? Or are you more like a pearl: a rare, fine, admirable and valuable gemstones and object of beauty which we have celebrated for centuries?