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My next move: Will undertaking flexible work practices impact my career in the legal industry?
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My next move: Will undertaking flexible work practices impact my career in the legal industry?

There has been a definite increase in non-standard work practices in recent years, such as part-time work and contracting.

In some regards, the legal industry has been slower to catch on than others, but it has now developed to a point where a wider range of options are widely available within both law firms and in-house legal teams. This has been further accentuated with the increase in non-standard law firm environments set up to offer alternative cost models to clients. A common question that we receive is whether taking advantage of these options has an effect on your long-term career, and how you are perceived when looking to advance.

Some of these additional options are more easily and commonly integrated in-house where policies are directed at a broader workforce rather than just lawyers. Contract positions are more popular in-house and can be available for a variety of reasons, such as projects, maternity leave and in cases where permanent headcount doesn’t exist. These opportunities can be ideal for candidates returning from overseas or career breaks, for those who enjoy the flexibility of moving from contract to contract, or for those who wish to experience an in-house role before committing long-term. That said, I wouldn’t recommend leaving a permanent position for a contract where there are no guarantees that the role will continue.Working from home or ‘telecommuting’ is becoming increasingly popular as technology continues to develop, yet some companies (including some major technology corporations) prefer to avoid it as they prefer employees to be in the same place, sharing ideas directly. Additionally, some management roles require a more constant presence in the office to supervise the team, so in those cases it may be necessary to return to full-time work in order to progress.

As these practices become more commonplace, my belief is that there will be no restriction to career development based on these issues, and this is reflected in the greater focus on flexibility and diversity across senior management and partnerships.The onus will be on the organisation to adapt to the needs of all their employees throughout the whole span of their career in order to retain their best talent.

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