James' blog: Moving in-house

For a number of reasons, it became apparent last year that I wasn’t going to progress in my then-current role.  When I had originally applied for the position my employer had been sceptical about my wish to work part-time in order to do two school pick-ups each week.  As negotiations continued, however, it became apparent that they were struggling to find a candidate to fill the role.  And when they got wind of the fact that I was considering other opportunities, in desperation they agreed to me working part time.  At every interim and annual appraisal I had during my time in that job, however, it was conveyed that it would be very difficult for me to progress while I continued to work part-time.  After a couple of years of this I had had enough, and so began looking again for a new role.

When an in-house opportunity arose I was initially hesitant.  Not only did it entail giving up any hope of partnership (however unlikely that really was!), but it involved a completely different area of law to the one I had practised for the past 8 years.  I had reached the final round of interviews for a few other roles and the sticking point had always been my desire to continue working part time in order to do those two school pick-ups.  I had little hope, therefore, when I broached this with my now current manager.  When I explained about my circumstances, however, he was extremely supportive.  Even better, not only was he happy for me to take a few hours out twice a week to do the school pick up, but he was also happy for me to make up the time during the week and to pay me full time rates.  That the base salary was higher than the full-time equivalent of my salary in private practice meant that the decision really was a no-brainer!

I’ve now been in the new role for a few months.  At the moment, I probably work just as hard in-house as I did when in private practice.  A number of other people who have made the transition have told me that this is not unusual in the early days as it takes a bit of time to adjust your mindset to the different demands of an in-house role.  Irrespective of this, however, I feel much happier in my current role.  I feel like I am in greater control and that I am much more valued by my manager and colleagues.  Furthermore, the organisation I work for is on a real drive to promote wellbeing.  I feel as though “wellbeing” has become something of a buzz word in the City lately and that a lot of employers pay lipservice to the idea without really doing anything to promote it.  A memory springs to mind of a talk organised by a magic circle firm I used to work for explaining about the importance of getting enough sleep!  In contrast, it really feels as though employee wellbeing is something my current employer is really dedicated to promoting.  My line manager regularly encourages me to work less and there is never any pressure on me to not do the school pick-up.  I recently heard a senior manager discussing that he wants to facilitate a culture where women don’t have to feel guilty about leaving the office at 2:30pm to do the school pick up.  They’re clearly on the right track, but there’s still some way to go – I don’t think men should have to feel guilty about doing so either!

James is a lawyer who recently left private practice to take up an in-house role with a financial institution.  He is father to a 6 year old daughter.

Category: A Cityfather's Diary

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