I qualified in 1995 at a major City law firm and spent the next eight years working in the London and Hong Kong offices advising insurers on professional negligence claims. After our first child was born, I continued working three days a week in Hong Kong. When we returned to London in 2003, I felt that I would be overwhelmed by transferring back to the London office with two very young children and expecting a third so I resigned. I did not intend to stop working completely but I needed a break. This ‘short break’ turned into eight years spent at home with young children (our fourth child was born in 2009).
I would regularly think about returning to pursue a legal career, but I found it hard to feel positive; the combination of a lengthy commute together with the hours which I used to work seemed to be entirely incompatible with family life.
In 2011, with three children now at full time school, I attended Julianne’s return-to-work workshop. This was extremely helpful in putting my concerns into perspective and crucially in determining how much I missed working. I had cut out a job description from The Sunday Times for a new full-time role working for a public regulator. The job did not require me to be a solicitor but appealed to my interests and required the communication and influencing skills which I had developed in my previous career. Crucially it was flexible and mainly home-based. Julianne’s advice was to not put off submitting my application (as I had done in the past) as I had nothing to lose. I applied and was shortlisted from 600+ applicants and, after a demanding assessment process, I received an offer of a position. The interviewers were far less interested in my career break than in my legal experience and ability to do the job.
Starting the job was very challenging, particularly finding suitable childcare and organising family life, however it was possible. Returning to work was absolutely the right decision for me and I am very grateful to have been given the push which I needed. Whilst there are very few spare moments in the day, I have now been working for over two years and I have found that having employment has given me more energy and perspective at home and has enabled me to use (and be paid for) the skills which I had acquired during my previous career.
* name changed for confidentiality