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
Caregiver dads face lack of support

Caregiver dads face lack of support

Samantha Betzien Minter Ellison

The legal profession needs more flexibility for dads who want time off to care for their families, a Minters partner has said.

Samantha Betzien, who has been at Minter Ellison for 12 years, suggested law firms' family friendly policies are not always extended to fathers.

“It's really important to change what I think is the norm around [parental leave],” Ms Betzien said. “I don't think we're as empathetic to dads who want to work part-time or who want to take a longer period of parental leave as we are with a woman doing it.”

She suggested both genders needed to be extended opportunities to be primary caregivers.

“We need to regard that as being perfectly acceptable – while some people do, there's almost a perception out there that it's okay for mothers, but it's not okay for dads,” she said. “ I don't think that's ideal from a social point of view.”

Despite more firms accepting flexible working policies, Ms Betzien believes all parents face challenges when taking time off work.

She plans to explore this topic in more depth as a guest speaker at the Women Lawyers Association of Queensland Biennial Conference, which takes place in Brisbane on 19 June.

In particular, she said parents-to-be tend to worry about stalling their business development.

“The reality is, when you take a period of parental leave you're out of the office and someone is going to manage relationships you once managed. It does have an effect on your business plan and business development activities.”

However, Ms Betzien believes proper planning can ease the transition back into the legal life.

"There are challenges you need to manage, but as long as you manage them well it won't have an impact.”

One strategy could be keeping in touch with colleagues and clients while on leave, although she acknowledged this might not suit everyone.

“Even if it's participating in emails, I think it's really important. One of the difficult things for women or parents going on parental leave is that you can lose that touch. Then, when you come back it can feel really foreign and out of the loop.”

During her stints of parental leave, Ms Betzien continued to attend occasional seminars to touch base with colleagues and clients.

“I'm not suggesting you should, or that should be the expectation … but for me, it was really good because I felt very much connected with the office.”

Ms Betzien suggested firms could still “do more” to help parents, but suggested the growing number of caregivers at partner level would create more understanding among firm leadership.

"I've had the benefit of speaking to other partners who have been through it before me. It's all part of the sharing experience, because we need to support each other," she said.

"I've had three periods of parental leave and I know how challenging it is,” she said. "I know how disconcerting it can be when you've been working hard to build a practice and then you're gone from it for a while."



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

Caregiver dads face lack of support
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Dec 13 2017
Young humanitarian lawyer California-bound
A young Australian lawyer will be travelling to the US next year for a prestigious nine-month study ...
Jackie Rhodes
Dec 12 2017
Report sheds light on LGBTQI inclusion in law firms
A recent report has revealed the varying perceptions on LGBTQI diversity and inclusion in the Austra...
Women in business
Dec 12 2017
Annabel Crabb headlines Women in Business Forum
Political journalist Annabel Crabb has appeared at the Coleman Greig Lawyers Women in Business Forum...
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 & ...