Sunday, 22 March 2009

Work/life balance

I'm working up to having a go at the Olpas form (soon. I need a lot of warming up and motivational pep-talks before I really start).

In combination with the recent engagement, constant talk of mortgages and credit-a-crunching on the news, I've been thinking about work-life balance and all that.

I imagine that like many I will have to go in for the whole kids, mortgage, and Guardian and veg box subscriptions at some point. (On reflection, my walk around Primrose Hill yesterday with its stupendous number of yummy mummies with ludicrously priced Nasa-designed buggies in tow is probably also a factor in this sort of thinking.)

But barristers don't really do maternity leave or anything, do they? If you're not working, you're not getting paid. Can you reduce the amount that you work and/or work from home without damaging a practice that you'll have spent the last many years working all the hours you had to build up?

What do people do? The female head of one of the top sets (this was a few years ago) once told me at a university careers event about popping in and out of court to breastfeed whilst the nanny waited outside the courtroom with the baby. Fabulously dynamic and go-getting as this may seem, I just don't see myself being able to do that.

Wardrobe malfunctions of a highly inappropriate nature would probably ensue in my case. And can you even get milk out of horsehair?


Android said...

The company I work for gives you 11 months fully paid maternity leave. At the Bar, I think it depends on your Chambers, but I think most will keep your place for, like, 3 months or something, and release you from paying chambers' expenses. :D There was an article about it in March's Counsel - they highlighted the fact that the maternity policies differ from set to set

Law Minx said...

Hiya Girle,

Have ya looked at Sarah Clovers Blog ' Barrister, Boys and Baby'?- shes in practice and speaks about fmaily life pregnanct and the bar in a most eloquent fashion.

Well worth the read, I think!!

Mel said...

Thank you ladies, you are a minefield of information.

I thought I'd read March's Counsel! Maybe it was the Feb edition!

It really puts barrister earnings into perspective doesn't it? Once you knock out chambers rent, taxes and NI, pension contributions and then savings for all the times you won't be working.

11 months fully paid maternity leave sounds really quite good!

Law Minx said...

( GAWD, My Spelling SUCKS Most Enormously!! I MUST have a break from typing up bits of the Thesis Monster!!! )

Bar Boy said...

The woman who authors Pink Tape is also a barrister mum.

On flicking through the BC and BSB website releases, there is mention somewhere of the Inns of Court lumping together to set up a creche/nursery for its members' children. In keeping with its unswerving ability to take something simple and turn it into a right kerfuffle, I wouldn't hold out much hope of the Bar managing to arrange this facility anytime soon.

Mel said...

Minx- that blog offers exactly the sort of perspective I was interested to read. UR a star, as the kids say.

I should point out - this is purely random interest on my part and I have no intention of having any personal need of any maternity policies for a very very very very long time. Enough 'verys'?

Although, the gossipy side of me will point out that that isn't the case for a friend of a friend, who has been left a friend of a friend with rather a lot to think about after a one night stand. With the grandson of a rather famous European Fascist, would you believe?

You couldn't make it up.

Law Minx said...


There may be enough 'very's but at least some should be in CAPITALS, some in BOLD and some in ITALIC for the avoidance of doubt there in!)

Powerful scandal indeed with respect to the friend of a friend! Whatever happened to the' C' word in these situations?!?! ( *please peel Midwife Minx off the ceiling in this respect*)

Mel said...

I know! Med student, yet the basics of biology seem to have gone out the window!

Pupilpedia said...

Perhaps there's a discrimination claim in there if you can't get maternity allowance of some kind. But being self-employed it seems unlikely.

For fun I have put up, on my blog, some interview questions I know have been asked at a few chambers. Maybe it will go some way to helping people with interviews.

Anonymous said...

Hey Mel

Hope the exams went well? I did ok except for f*cking up the PC plant in Submissons inadvertantly but hey ho!!!

Anyway the Assoc Women Barristers are discussing this very issue currently - including the dact you have to PAY not to do your CPD while on Mat leave. Worth giving them a call?

Mel said...

Hey LG

Good points re maternity issues, merci!

Re Submissions- my, oh my did I choke! My eye started twitching in the middle of the session and I couldn't concentrate. It lasted about 5 mins instead of the required 12....

PC plant? What was yours? I don't think we had one at ICSL. Unless we're at the same place and I've missed it too!

Anonymous said...

Hey Mel

I am at ICSL too. I referred to the negotiations "breaking down" as opposed to being complete - which means I inadvertantly referred to the attendance note as the witness said negotiation were "complete" - which I am told was a big no no and "really really obvious to everyone"(pah bar aspirants) (I was so careful not to refer to anyhting on that damn atendance note too PAH)

I am just PRAYING i have got the other 3. I cant think what the other plants have possibly been except for the great huge all light blazing one about making up evidence in drafting!!! (Thank god for mini mercys I guess!) ARGH to late now I guess!!!

Mel said...

Oof. I don't remember talking about the negotiations - I think I said the reason for delay was that negotiations had been going on, but didn't talk about their state.

I don't think that was a plant, tbh- if anything, it was for the Skeleton. I know that some people attached the attendance note to their Skeletons, in the aim of giving 'full and frank disclosure', but completely overlooking confidentiality!

Drafting was a nice obvious plant, wasn't it! I imagine the others will be in conf/negotiation?