Legal job sharing on the rise

Part time lawyers frequently experience full time workload demands and a lack of career progression, but according to one expert, job sharing may hold the answer to challenges faced by lawyers with children.

Job sharing may be the answer for mums working flexibly and it’s on the increase, according to 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.”

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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