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Kathryn Paisley

Partner - Uckfield

19th March 2019

When a career break isn’t career-ending

I once heard a partner in a large City law firm explain that she was returning to work immediately after having her child because to take a career break was tantamount to career suicide. Thankfully, things have moved on a bit since then and there has been a lot of interest recently in how to encourage people – women and men alike – who have taken a break from the law to return and reinvigorate their careers.

All of this interest has piqued my attention because at Rix & Kay Solicitors LLP we have been well ahead of the field for a while now. I’m a case in point: after starting my legal career at two large firms in the City, I decided when I was ready to raise a family that I wanted to spend time with my children rather than going back to work after a period of maternity leave. When I felt I was ready to think about coming back to the law I approached Rix & Kay on a speculative basis. I was (figuratively speaking) embraced with open arms!

I started in the corporate team coming up to four years ago as a solicitor, graduating to the role of an associate, and am now proud to call myself a partner of the firm. Nusrat Qureishi, an associate, has also joined the corporate team after having taken a break to raise a family. In both of our cases, the really telling factor about our decision to join Rix & Kay was the clear and evident ability and desire on the part of the firm to embrace career paths and life decisions that did not necessarily “fit the mould”. Rix & Kay has never looked to fit square pegs into square holes (or indeed to ram square pegs into round holes) but instead has ditched the holes completely and has had a welcoming and common-sense approach to recruiting the best possible resources in a way that suits both the firm and the individual concerned. If I had been told four years ago that my only option of returning to work was to be doing full-time, five days a week, from the outset, I probably would not be here now. As it was, the firm and I continued to talk throughout my first few months at work and beyond to develop a strategy and a structure that worked for both of us. Critically, lines of communication have always been kept open. I made it clear what was important to me, the firm made it clear what was important to it and we spoke and found a balance.

The upshot for me personally is that I have been able to return to a career I love (having had the wonderful opportunity to raise a family) in a thriving, forward-thinking firm – for me, it’s having my cake and eating it! The industry as a whole is at grave risk of losing talent because of an apparent inability (refusal?) to adapt and embrace different working styles and different desires for work-life balances and what that might mean to individuals. At Rix & Kay we pride ourselves on breaking the mould; we listen, we talk, we adapt and we make it work. We understand that there is an enormous pool of talent out there that might be anxious about returning to work after a break (“what if I’ve forgotten everything I ever knew?”) but that a little understanding, patience and an ability to recruit on the basis of potential could well pay dividends to both parties.

If you have had a career break but know that you still have a lot to offer, do come and have a chat with us. At Rix & Kay we recognise that a career break does not need to represent the end of a career. For further information, do feel free to contact or call me on 01825 744447.

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