Having studied law at Aberdeen University, I began a traineeship in Glasgow in 2005. I enjoyed my chosen field of employment law and I was fortunate to have worked with and learned from some highly-respected lawyers in this field.
When my first child was born in 2011, I made the life-changing decision to take a career break. I did this for a few reasons but principally because, at that time, there were limited options for mums like me who wanted to continue with a demanding career consisting of long hours and be present for my young family. Originally, I intended for the break to be relatively short, maybe two years, but after my second child was born I decided to remain a stay-at-home mum for a bit longer.
Seven years later, I decided to look into the opportunities available to allow me to return to work. My initial tentative toe-dipping very quickly turned into an interview at one of the most esteemed law firms that I knew of. Because of their high profile, I thought there was little chance they'd be interested in someone who had spent so long away from the profession, but thought I'd give it a go anyway. I was mistaken! I was met with warmth, encouragement and a huge amount of support. Something that I continue to receive, 2 years on from accepting a job with Morton Fraser. Within that time I've had some fantastic training and mentoring and I now feel well and truly settled back in to my career. In fact, I believe I am a better lawyer this time around, perhaps as a result of the life experience I gained in the years away from the profession.
Despite the support I was given, the transition (both leaving and re-entering the profession) was not easy and I wouldn't be quick to suggest that a lengthy career break is the best option for new mums. Thankfully, with the changes that have been made over recent years, less women will have to make that choice. When I returned, I found that changes in the law were the least of my concerns - I had access to training and resources and I had kept up-to-date to an extent during my time off. What I found most difficult were the changes to working systems / procedures, increased regulatory concerns, new technology and the transition back to working life in general.
I have been delighted to see so many changes in the workplace to allow parents to have a better work life balance since I made the decision to return.
When offering me the job, Morton Fraser suggested a four-day week, which really helped with the transition and continues to work well for me and my family. A four-day week means that I can still do the stay-at-home mum things that I love, such as cooking and eating with the kids and walking them to and from school. Of course, some weeks are busier than others but overall the balance is good. I think it is important to have an understanding that there is a requirement on both sides to be flexible, for example, if I am conducting a tribunal hearing I will change my day off so that I am available. If the kids have an in-service, I might change my day off that week so that I can be at home with them.
The firm's agile working policy also benefits me and means that I don't miss all the important things, such as a school play. It also means that I can leave promptly most nights to collect the kids, knowing that I can log in from home later to complete any urgent work.
The biggest benefit for me though, is the supportive and accommodating attitude I receive from my colleagues to my working arrangement. It is huge a relief for me to know that any requests I make will be met with fairness and respect because it makes me feel valued and that they trust me to get my work done, albeit not always in a conventional 9-5 office setting.