find the latest legal job
Part Time Risk & Compliance Officer
Category: Other | Location: Brisbane QLD 4000
· Brisbane City · Flexible Part Time Hours
View details
Infrastructure Lawyer/SA
Category: Construction Law | Location: Sydney CBD, Inner West & Eastern Suburbs Sydney NSW
· Global elite law firm · Dedicated Infrastructure team
View details
Property Lawyer
Category: Property Law | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· 12 Month Contract · Diverse Work
View details
In-House Legal Counsel (Mid to Senior)| Regulated Markets (Energy and Gas)
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Full PD on Request · Exciting High Impact Role
View details
Family Lawyer
Category: Family Law | Location: Eastern Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Boutique Firm · Great Reputation
View details
Corporate Express general counsel Prue Gilbert

Corporate Express general counsel Prue Gilbert

Balancing a satisfying career with interests outside the workplace has proved to be more than just a personal goal for Corporate Express general counsel Prue Gilbert. A lot of lawyers talk…

Balancing a satisfying career with interests outside the workplace has proved to be more than just a personal goal for Corporate Express general counsel Prue Gilbert.

A lot of lawyers talk about the goal of achieving a work/life balance, but Prue Gilbert decided to do something about it.

In 2005, five years into a successful private practice career at Deacons, she decided to jump ship and take up a position as legal counsel at ASX-listed business supply company Corporate Express. She was promoted to general counsel within a year.

Gilbert says her desire to maintain a work/life balance was an important driver behind her decision to make the switch to an in-house role, and this goal has become more than just a personal priority. Gilbert wants this goal achieved by women right across the company.

It was for this reason that she established the Women in Leadership Council at Corporate Express last year, an endeavour which recently saw her named as a finalist in the 2009 NSW Women Lawyers Achievement Awards.

"I wanted to try and understand why there were so few women in leadership positions at Corporate Express. At that stage around 48 per cent of employees were female, yet we had only one female on our board, no females on our executive, and only three females in the leadership group," she explains.

The initiative kicked off with an all-employee survey aimed at identifying staff views on equal opportunity in the workplace. Gilbert then headed up a series of nationwide focus groups with female employees to gain an understanding of what employees thought the business should be doing to develop and retain its female workforce.

From there, the council has begun implementing programs and policies in an effort to break down the barriers to female advancement within the company. These include benchmarking job roles as part of the business's remuneration strategy, undertaking training on the company's policies for selection and promotion and improving the flexible work practices policy. The next endeavour to be rolled out is a Business Woman of the Year program to recognise the achievements of the company's female employees.

The Council's work is paying dividends, and the legal team is a good case in point. Gilbert works directly with the company secretary who works two days a week, a solicitor who works three days a week (two in the office and one from home), and a paralegal who works two days a week from home, her hours spread out flexibly over the week. "With two and a half thousand employees nationally, the business - and corporations in general - seem to be better able to accommodate flexible work practices," she explains.

She says her current role is diverse, involving "anything that has a legal bone in its body", covering issues ranging from property, consumer and supplier contracts, to finance, trade practices and employment law issues. This diversity, she says, is one of the highlights of the role. "I love working with all the different people within the business. We work in open plan and there's a constant stream of people coming to you for advice. A lot of it is about helping them with strategy, being commercially minded and identifying and advising them on issues that affect legal risk," she says.

On a personal note, the move to Corporate Express has enabled Gilbert to successfully balance a career with her other interests, including running half marathons and taking part in the Noosa Triathlon, studying an MBA, and having her first baby. "It's definitely enabled me to have that flexibility. So whilst I'm on call at all times, I can definitely manage the work commitments and still be able to do the things that I enjoy," she says.

>> For the latest news, views and analysis of issues affecting in-house lawyers, check out Lawyers Weekly's dedicated in-house site

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

Corporate Express general counsel Prue Gilbert
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Sally Wheeler
Nov 20 2017
ANU College of Law appoints new dean
A distinguished legal academic and the former head of law of a higher education institution in Irela...
Nov 17 2017
It's time for politicians to commit to eradicating domestic violence
The national shame of domestic violence cannot be left unaddressed, writes Christine Smyth. ...
Nov 16 2017
From lawyer in law firm to senior governance professional
Promoted by Governance Institute of Australia As a law graduate, Kate Griffiths never imagined...
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 & ...