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‘There should be flexibility in any organisation’

Flexible working and increased parental leave should be the norm moving forward, says boutique firm founder and father.

user iconLauren Croft 18 August 2021 SME Law
Sach Fernando
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Sach Fernando is the principal and founder of Maxiom Injury Lawyers, which he founded off the back of starting a family.

Speaking on The Boutique Lawyer Show, Mr Fernando said that the move towards greater paternity leave for both parents was a “very positive trend”, as more and more firms adopt increasingly flexible working models to accommodate parents.

“We are as an industry headed in the right direction. I think the personal injury jurisdiction, and I can only speak to personal injury in Victoria. I think some of the firms are still lagging behind, and there’s a lot more that can be done within the PI space in Victoria, in those firms in terms of giving more parental leave and being understanding of that leave,” he said.


“When I established Maxiom, one of the things I wanted for my employees is for them to have somewhat of a work-life balance and to have interests outside of the law. To spend time with family and children, and never let the work consume their lives.

“And I certainly, if one of my employees were to fall pregnant or if their partners or wives have children, I’d certainly be quite generous in terms of that parental leave.”

Maxiom has survived “reasonably well” during the pandemic and focus on only servicing personal injury law matters – but Mr Fernando said whilst the firm’s systems were ready for the digital transition, there was still a rocky period.  

“Our systems were fortunately set up for something like this, in the sense we are completely paperless and we’ve utilised Zoom and Teams before. So, the transition wasn’t too bad. But the biggest issue for us was say, May, June, 2020, when all of this was new,” he said.

“We didn’t see any clients and people were still quite unsure of what was happening. And so, we went through some patches of periods where there were no clients reaching out. So that was a real challenge. But the work then picked up and fortunately has been consistent and is keeping all six of us very, very busy.

“The clients in our jurisdiction can be very demanding and to some extent, expect that you are there when they need. And one thing that Maxiom does and does well is be accessible for its clients. So, I am taking calls after hours. I am taking calls on the weekend.”

Despite occasionally taking calls on the weekend, Mr Fernando said there was nothing more important than being there for his family. He has two daughters: four-year-old Giselle and two-year-old Arielle.

“I didn’t grow up with a father. So, for me, [being a father] is so important and I knew that whatever happened, I just wanted to be there for my girl,” he said.

“Work is work, and family should always be prioritised over work. And to have the confidence to speak to your employer and do it in a professional respectful way and highlight the importance of whatever it is that you need to do, whatever the commitment is that you need to attend.”

Mr Fernando added that in 2021, lawyers should be able to submit parental leave without being questioned, particularly as the working model changes post-pandemic.

“I think for employers receiving requests, it’s the way in which it’s communicated. And to make sure that there is no disruption to the firm in the employee, solicitor attending to their commitments. And at the end of the day, it can be achieved so long as you make sure the output is there,” he said.

“It’s all about the output. And with law firms transitioning into work from home models, you’d no longer have that traditional model that we once had. And hopefully firms are recognising the output and rewarding the output.”

Mr Fernando said this method has worked extremely well at Maxiom – and the feedback he’s received from employees has been that they’re actually more productive.

“Currently everyone is working three days from home and two days in the office and it works,” he said.

“There should be flexibility in any organisation, whether it’s a law firm or an accounting firm. That flexibility should be there and people should be awarded on merit and on the output.

“But it comes down to the employers and management, doesn’t it? And how they recognise and reward their staff. It’s management that sets the culture of any organisation.”

The transcript of this podcast episode was slightly edited for publishing purposes. To listen to the full conversation with Sach Fernando, click below: