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Julie’s Story: City lawyer to HR development manager


Much as I love my three children, my return to work on September 14, 2005 will always signal my release from the gilded prison of 8 long years at the kitchen sink. I had found myself bored and I struggled with the transition from City lawyer to rather inept housewife in terms of my identity. Yet I also knew that I didn’t want to work full time. I valued being with the children, time with friends and pursuing other interests.

A chance meeting at a social event with one of the partners at the law firm where I had previously practised presented me with the opportunity to return to work. I asked him to set up a meeting where I convinced the HR Director to create a new role for me as an in-house career coach. The factors that helped me back to work included having had a good reputation within the firm as a lawyer, the support of the partner I had worked with and luck (the firm was looking for someone to support their trainees in making the transition to being qualified lawyers at that time).

What has made my return successful and fulfilling since then has been flexibility on both sides. I work 2 days in the office and half a day from home but I will swap my days around or do extra if necessary; and the firm has always been accommodating of my need to take holiday in school holidays or any requests to swap days for school events. I have also received practical support and encouragement from the firm, who paid for my year long training to qualify as an executive coach and allowed me space to grow the role. For example, I now do career coaching for lawyers up to partner level and maternity coaching for all female lawyers. I feel fortunate to work in a buzzy, commercial environment, meeting interesting people and using my brain. Returning to work has involved making compromises but it has been one of the best decisions of my life.