find the latest legal job
Corporate/Commercial Lawyers (2-5 years PAE)
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Specialist commercial law firm · Long-term career progression
View details
Graduate Lawyer / Up to 1.5 yr PAE Lawyer
Category: Personal Injury Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Mentoring Opportunity in Regional QLD · Personal Injury Law
View details
Corporate and Commercial Partner
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Full time · Join a leading Adelaide commercial law firm
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Sydney NSW
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
Flexibility becoming more feasible

Flexibility becoming more feasible

Gemma Bentley, Clifford Chance

One young lawyer has proved that pursuing other interests while practising as a lawyer is possible, having qualified as a vet while working as a senior associate at a global law firm.

Clifford Chance senior associate Gemma Bentley (pictured) studied, graduated and practiced law before deciding she wanted to retrain as a vet.

“I didn’t think I’d be able to combine the two or continue working in law while I did the other, so I resigned from my position at a national firm and started my vet degree,” Ms Bentley explained.

However, as law firms are increasingly embracing flexible working environments and universities are making studying from home possible through technological developments, Ms Bentley realised she could in fact go back to working as a lawyer while studying.

“I was working about a full-time load in various part-time jobs and I thought this is a bit crazy because I do have a profession that I could be working in,” Ms Bentley said.

She joined boutique firm Cochrane Lishman Carson & Larsen (CLCL) because they were willing to offer the flexibility she needed to complete compulsory practical elements of her studies.

Ms Bentley used her annual leave to complete her practical requirements and CLCL offered her an additional four weeks of unpaid leave to do some horse breeding work during the spring, which is where her passion lies.

When CLCL merged with Clifford Chance in 2011 Ms Bentley was able to maintain her flexible working arrangements by having open conversations with her bosses.

“My boss’ approach was very much, ‘I don’t really care when or how you get your work done but provided you get it done that's fine with me’,” she said.

Ms Bentley believes most bosses that are reasonable are happy to consider other arrangements provided they think the clients can still be serviced properly.

“If you approach it in a way they can see is not jeopardising your commitment to the firm and you're still there to service their clients and you're still there for their business, then they're happier to allow you to have some flexibility to do what you want to do with your life as well,” she said.

While she admits it’s not a common occurrence in the legal profession, Ms Bentley believes it is possible for other lawyers to pursue their other interests while working.

Now that her studies are complete, Ms Bentley hopes to continue working at Clifford Chance while pursuing breeding work on a part-time basis, or at least use her knowledge with her own horses.

“I might, say, during a certain time of year take one day off a week to fill in for a reproduction vet or something like that,” she said.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Flexibility becoming more feasible
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Dec 14 2017
International arbitration and business culture
Promoted by Maxwell Chambers. This article discusses the impact of international arbitration on t...
Papua New Guinea flag
Dec 14 2017
World-first mining case launched in PNG
Citizens of Papua New Guinea have launched landmark legal proceedings against the country’s govern...
Dec 14 2017
Punishing offenders twice pointless, politicians warned
The president of the Law Society of NSW has warned legislators from other states about adopting cont...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...