Legal job sharing on the rise

by Samantha Woodhill27 May 2015

Job sharing may be the answer for mums working flexibly and it’s on the increase, according to professionalmums.net CEO, Kate Mills.  

As more people try to work flexibly, Mills has joined forces with The Women Lawyers Association of NSW to create a job sharing resource guide specifically for the legal profession.

While there is no statistical evidence, based on the research she has done Mills believes that job sharing is on the rise.  She said that when it’s done well, job sharers are often more satisfied with their career progression than part time workers, with part time workers feeling as though they are given less important work.  

“I did [research] last year with Women’s Agenda where we contacted 60 companies and asked them to name the most senior person in the organisation that worked in a flexible manner, we were surprised by how many of them were job-sharers,” said Mills.  “I think that as jobs become more complex and require longer hours, job-sharing will be more in demand as an option for people seeking career advancement and work/life balance.”

Speaking to NZLawyer last month, AJ Park partner Colleen Cavanagh said job-sharing was a good way to ease back into the legal industry after taking time off.

“The job-sharing in the early years when I was at Bell Gully was great,” she said.

Women often struggle with part-time work as they are often trying to fit a significant work-load into a limited time-frame, with no-one picking up for them when they aren’t there, she said.

“The great thing about the job-share situation is that I could go away on my days off and still have things happening as we had a sort of joint responsibility for clients’ matters, and I think that’s a great position to be in if you can achieve it.”

Flexible working arrangements can be tricky to establish according to solicitor and mother of two, Pheba Netto.  She said that working flexibly is good in theory but that the reality is often much trickier to implement than expected.

“The challenges I face as a mother working flexibly are that the demands from your employer are still very high,” she said.  “While they acknowledge that you are paid a particular rate because you have a flexible work arrangement, their demands on you are that of a full time normal working hour employee.”
 
With job sharing, the ‘catching up’ element of part time work is avoided and there is always someone is always available to step in.
 
“Law firms and other organisations need to be alive to job-sharing as an option and set up an environment that supports it,” said Mills.  “Even letting lawyers in the firm know that it is an option is a step in the right direction.”
 

 

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