find the latest legal job
Corporate Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Highly-respected, innovative and entrepreneurial Not-for-Profit · Competency based Board
View details
Chief Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Dynamic, high growth organisation · ASX listed market leader
View details
In-house Projects Lawyer | Renewables / Solar | 2-5 Years PQE
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: All Australia
· Help design the future · NASDAQ Listed
View details
Insurance Lawyer (3-5 PAE)
Category: Insurance and Superannuation Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Dynamic organisation ·
View details
Legal Counsel
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: North Sydney NSW 2060
· 18 month fixed term contract · 3-5 years PQE with TMT exposure
View details
How to ... survive as a working parent

How to ... survive as a working parent

With experience cradling files like a baby and turning up to meetings with fairy stickers on her back, Janine Gregory at Slater & Gordon tells how to survive being a working parent.

With experience cradling files like a baby and turning up to meetings with fairy stickers on her back, Janine Gregory at Slater & Gordon tells how to survive being a working parent.  

I knew it was time to return to work when I shed tears because Steve Liebmann was retiring from the Today show.  I loved being a Mum, but part of me also missed the challenges and excitement of being a litigation lawyer.

When I first returned from parental leave, I found myself rocking files and humming nursery rhymes to myself but over time I managed to adjust to my double life.

In my experience, the early years of juggling work and parenting are pretty tough. Young children are entirely dependant upon you, and your emotional ability to cope with separation can be grueling.   

You learn the times when not to ask a parent how the kids are because you are likely to be met with a flood of tears.  For those of you who don’t know the key dates for not asking these questions include: first day back at work, first day at kinder and the first day of school. My advice to any managers or support staff would be to have the tissues ready and be very supportive.

I certainly recall my first day back at work to conduct Articled Clerk interviews when just before the first interview a well meaning colleague asked me how my beautiful boy was.  Needless to say we were late for the interview and I am pretty sure he never asked a returning mother that question again! 

The experience of being a working parent is very different for everyone. The many variables in your life really determine how you manage to achieve both career and parenting goals.  These include the level of support you have at home, the assistance available from your family, your financial circumstances, travel times to and from work and the number of children you have, to name a few.

I have employed a Nanny for my two children and it has been wonderful for them to be looked after at home in the early years, but it too is not all plain sailing. I know only too well the turmoil that occurs when the Nanny is unwell or on annual leave while my retired parents constantly seem to be going on extended holidays!

If you want to have children, there are many choices to make and many hours can be consumed by asking yourself when is the right time to have children in relation to your career and who will look after my child when I am at work, but the reality is you just need to get on with it and you will find solutions.

One of the biggest challenges of returning to work after having kids is accepting that your participation at work absolutely has to change. I remember the days when I could stay back and finish the project that I was absorbed in – that was before kids. Now I need to get home to make sure I hear about their day, read them a story and see them before they fall asleep.

As a manager of more than 300 staff (and with personal experience) I need to be both supportive and understanding to the new working parents in my team. Meetings and work schedules will need to change to accommodate the needs of children as they move through various ages and stages. 

It is also important that your career goals are clearly discussed with your manager so that there are no uncertainties about what you want to achieve and when you want to achieve it. 

Flexible work arrangements can work really well in a law firm.  We have made a success of it in a high volume litigation practice - I don’t accept that other parts of the legal industry can not do the same.  What is important is that lawyers, support staff and managers work together to create a culture of acceptance, support and understanding for new parents and parents with young children. You’d be surprised how this can help you achieve results for your clients and your firm. 

I now no longer cradle the files, but with a 4 and 7 year old, I have rocked up to meetings with fairy stickers on my back, clopped around the kindergarten tan bark in my high heels whilst squeezing in a fruit duty session before work and whipped up a wolf costume after a long day of meetings.

Whilst some days you do feel you have run a marathon before the day begins, it really does become all in a days work and I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Janine Gregory is the general manager of Slater & Gordon personal injuries group in Victoria. She manages about 300 staff and works four days a week.

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

How to ... survive as a working parent
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
LCA president Fiona McLeod SC
Aug 17 2017
Where social fault lines meet the justice gap in Aus
After just returning from a tour of the Northern Territory, LCA president Fiona McLeod SC speaks wit...
Marriage equality flag
Aug 17 2017
ALHR backs High Court challenge to marriage equality postal vote
Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) has voiced its support for a constitutional challenge to ...
Give advice
Aug 17 2017
A-G issues advice on judiciary’s public presence
Commonwealth Attorney-General George Brandis QC has offered his advice on the public presence of jud...
APPOINTMENTS
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'...
opinion
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...
Help
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 & ...