A commitment to part-time work has driven the recent 100 per cent female partnership expansion at Adelaide firm, Norman Waterhouse, chief executive Paul Barrington told Lawyers Weekly.
Of the three lawyers appointed to the Norman Waterhouse partnership last week - Felice D'Agostino, Maria Ho and Mary-Alice Paton - two will work part-time, pushing the ratio of part-time to full-time partners at the firm to 40 and 60 per cent respectively.
Barrington said that his firm can offer such a ratio because of the culture of the firm, a shared interest in work/life balance, and the fact that it has become known for its flexible work opportunities.
For Barrington, it's also a matter of the firm recognising that a culture of part-time work makes good business sense: "The reality is that a lot of people are going to want to work part-time in the future," he said. "It's a trend that is already occurring and if you are going to resist it, you are going to find it harder to get people to work for you."
But Barrington added that part-time arrangements in the firm can work only with the co-operation of team leaders. "Quite frankly, it does take a lot of skills for the people involved to make it work," he said. "But I'm struggling to think of any problems that arise purely out of a part-time partner role. There's nothing we face on a regular basis that comes to mind."
Meanwhile, Barrington added that working part-time at the firm does not impact negatively on career progression: "We progress and appoint people on merit and we do our absolute best to make sure that whether or not they work three, four or five days, it doesn't make a difference," said Barrington.
"A partner is a partner, and if somebody outside a firm is dealing with a partner, it's the calibre of the person and their commitment to client services that really matters."