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Hayley’s Story: Commercial Dispute Resolution Lawyer to Associate Director in Legal Recruitment

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Hayley Rose – Associate Director, Legal at Harvey John Recruitment (5-year career break)

What do you do when you have twins and want to return to your career, but you know you cannot properly fulfil your old role on a part-time basis?

This was the dilemma I was faced with. I had worked my way up to qualify as a Commercial Dispute Resolution Solicitor and it hadn’t been easy. I had studied for my LPC (Legal Practice Course) in the evenings and at weekends, while working full-time as a paralegal. I did not want to let my efforts go to waste. But the nature of my work was not conducive to part-time work. Could I work three days a week and still retain the key clients? It was unlikely. In my job it wasn’t just managing clients’ deadlines, there were also court deadlines. What if I had to work late? What if I arrived back in Brighton after 6pm when the nursery closed? Added to this was the fact that the expensive monthly nursery fees were more than our mortgage at that time.

I made the decision that, in those early pre-school years, I wanted to be home with my children. Once they started school I took a change in direction and became a recruiter for lawyers at Harvey John. My legal experience meant that I have a greater understanding of the industry and when candidates want greater flexibility in a role, I am able to relate to them. I know how legal firms work and what they are looking for in candidates. I also have empathy with candidates as I know what they have been through! I enjoy that feeling when I help someone secure a new role, it can be life changing for them. There is nothing better than placing someone at a law firm and then watching them progress.

My personal experience was that I had to shift my direction to return to work, but luckily, I was able to utilise the experience and knowledge I had gained before children. Fortunately, things have changed over the last decade. Legal firms have become far more flexible and agile in terms of working hours and working arrangements, and firms are placing more emphasis on creating teams rather than working as individuals. Things have become easier for women wishing to return to work in this sector.