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‘I was back in the office the 3rd day after giving birth’

After having two children, this principal solicitor has found that she can juggle both her career and family life with ease — but has had to fight preconceptions along the way.

user iconLauren Croft 22 December 2022 SME Law
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Alana Jacquet is the principal solicitor of Our Lawyers, a boutique firm based down in the Southern Highlands of NSW. Speaking recently on the Boutique Lawyers Show, Ms Jacquet emphasised that lawyers can be working mothers and spoke about the battle for many women lawyers to prove this fact to the broader legal profession and the general public.

Ms Jacquet has been in family law since she was studying, and took over Our Lawyers whilst being six weeks pregnant — and said there had been a “lot of struggles” along the way.

“I’ve had two children now, so I have a three-year-old and a seven-month-old. And both those times, I haven’t taken maternity leave because I can’t. It’s just simply the nature of the business. I’m the only family law solicitor, and I’m the owner of the business, and so is my husband. So that’s why he works with me, and I’ve created a very strong village of support around me to help me do what I do and be successful in what I do. So, our babies are in the office with us, and were still about six months old each. I breastfed while chatting to clients and chatting to other solicitors.


“One of the things that I struggled with is the conception out there that I can’t do both and I can’t do both well. A lot of people are shocked to hear that I’m back in the office as early as I was. The first time round was a little bit longer because it [was my] first baby. Second baby, I was back in the office the third day after giving birth by C-section,” she explained.

“I am more stressed and my babies are more stressed if I’m out of my business and I’m not on top of what I’m doing. And my husband is with me, right by [my side] with the baby, and we are both equally involved, which is a concept that is also foreign to a lot of people, which I don’t understand why it should be when we’re in 2022. Both parents should be equally involved.”

In addition to this, Ms Jacquet has struggled with the perception that she can be out of the office by five and still be a good lawyer — and said that she constantly has to explain herself.

“I’m capable of doing both and doing both well, and I manage my time, and I manage my life, and I have a very good work/life balance. And I’m a mum when I need to be a mum, and I leave my work at the door. Sometimes I work at night after bed, but that’s what happens. And you can do it, and you can do it well,” she said.

“But because I have and continue to come up and struggle with that, I have taken a very deliberate decision on our marketing side of things for my business that it’s not clear publicly that I am a mum with young babies or children. My clients know. My clients are incredibly supportive, and my clients love the fact that my babies are upstairs, and often they want me to bring them down, and they’ve met the babies and had cuddles with the babies. But they know me. They know what I do, and they trust me because they’ve already come in and experienced that.”

However, this issue hasn’t been one Ms Jacquet’s husband has faced, despite returning to work as soon as she has after the birth of their children.

“No one would ever ask those questions of my husband, ever. And he’s the one that does take on in the very early days, often more care in the office because I’m downstairs with clients or in mediations. And they just don’t ask that. It’s just, it’s still horrifying. Even with our first child, we were at the hospital and they asked what he did, and we explained that he was the manager and he would be at home a little bit more than I would be at home. And they said, ‘Well, how do you produce breast milk?’ And I thought it’s just astounding for that question to be asked by a hospital professional to us in a public forum. It was a parenting course. And that was in 2019,” Ms Jacquet said.

“One of my best friends has just recently, he’s married to a male, and they’ve just had a surrogate, and they both ... She’s a beautiful girl. And neither of them will ever have these questions about them either, but they’re both carrying the load of the parenting duty. So, it’s just that inherently, females can’t do their job properly after they give birth.”

And men — in addition to women — can also play a role in making sure that these unconscious biases are being challenged.

“[It’s] just about being more open-minded and listening to people and having a conversation of how it works and talking. And also, for young males in the profession who are also getting married and due to have children, considering having time off as paternity leave as well, and having that time with their child. I know a lot of large law firms in Sydney are now offering this,” Ms Jacquet added.

“Them also experiencing that side of things and being able to do their job at the same time and having work/life balances, work from home. I think that’s a great way for people to work out that it’s not just the mothers that have to carry the load now; it’s shared. And I actually find that’s a fabulous thing for the children to see that both parents can be involved, and it’s not just the mum. And I think it’s just important for people to listen to other people’s stories.”

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