Goodbye job applications, hello dream career
Seize control of your career and design the future you deserve with LW career

Working parents are an asset in law, not a liability

International Women’s Day is upon us, and it is as important as ever to highlight the need for flexible workplace adaptations that support women, and mothers in the workforce, writes Justine Aubin.

user iconJustine Aubin 08 March 2023 SME Law
expand image

The legal industry often requires long hours and days at work, which isn’t always the easiest when juggling a family. Historically, women have had to choose to be in a flexible role or part-time work in order to serve the primary role as a caregiver, the hardest job of all.

Currently, the statistics in comparison of where both women and men are at during their careers are staggering, with over half of male legal practitioners accumulating 15 years or more (51 per cent), whereas female lawyers are predicted to only equate to a third of this (36 per cent) before departing from law during crucial child-caring years.

I’m eager to see this statistic change, with more women being able to continue their careers with the support of businesses assisting in their parental duties. In my experience, I found that sometimes in big law, it was common that choosing to prioritise the growth and needs of family life often meant sacrificing and slowing down your career.


As a woman who has opened her own boutique firm in 2020, finding the balance of flexibility has been challenging. However, I am a firm believer that you don’t have to choose one or the other — family or work — you can have it all.

When I first began my SME law firm, August & Claire Lawyers, two years ago, I was eager to refrain from the rigid framework of a nine-to-five in-office approach, as this outdated business model often results in burnout, exhaustion and professional drive to dwindle.

This was demonstrated throughout the pandemic that affected individuals worldwide from 2019 to 2022 (and the aftermath is still evident up to the current day), where a global study by Adecco demonstrated that Australians in the workforce are the most “burnt out” in the world, with more than half (53 per cent) expressing they experienced professional burnout in 2021.

Flexibility, inclusivity and adaptability are the most important practices I’ve implemented into the August & Claire business model, with effective results demonstrated in everyday work ethics and responses from clients and the services they receive.

It was never my intention to have a female-centric practice, as inclusivity is a primary focus of the firm; however, I’ve accumulated a strong, professional team of four women over the past three years. Two of which are working mothers. It became evident what qualities and needs were required to cater to support existing family commitments.

Based on my experiences, I have found the following to work best for my team in supporting this framework:

  • Hybrid working: an element not new to organisations since COVID-19, but you must practice what you preach. I find it important for me to choose to work from home as well to demonstrate the flexibility available to my employees.
  • Mental health days: twice a year, my team takes paid time off, whether individually or as a group. It’s important to prioritise your mental health, especially in our field of wills and estates, which can often be confrontational and emotionally exhausting at times. This time can be spent as a team or used however they like, including spending some much-needed time with their family or taking an individual break altogether and reset.
  • Asynchronous/flexible working hours: the nine-to-five in-office hours have expired. With 54 per cent of the law profession consisting of women, who, more likely than not, will have a family during their careers, it’s essential that careers flex to suit family life, not the other way around.
These strategies have been completely fundamental in contributing to the dedication, professionalism and focus that my team demonstrates on a daily basis. Doing the school run at 3pm shouldn’t mean that women are “slacking off”. If anything, I’ve seen a huge increase in their [my employees] eagerness to apply themselves to existing and new clients, as being able to work asynchronously and manage workloads in flexible increments typically leads to a stronger end result, and happier clients overall.

This is the way forward in flexible and inclusive workplace adaptations for working parents in the law profession, and I hope businesses continue to better look at their current business structures to ensure they are supporting parents across the board.

Justine Aubin is the founder and director of WillTek and the principal lawyer at August & Claire Lawyers. Ms Aubin was a finalist for Litigator of the Year at last year’s Australian Law Awards.

You need to be a member to post comments. Become a member for free today!