Wednesday, 5 September 2012

I'm open to ideas........

I have not blogged for ages.  This probably makes me one of the world's worst bloggers.  I know I don't do enough to "get it out there" but for me the blog was a lot like the freewriting I did when I was suffering with depression.  I just write and see what comes out (note to readers there is some form of edit process, believe it or not, in that I do read the posts back before publishing.  Honest).  With the freewriting I used to show it to my husband (a very hard thing to do at first) and then we'd talk about it.  I'm conscious that he loves me very much and so his opinion will take that into account.  Whereas with blogging you're asking strangers for their opinions.  But I'm stronger now and I can take it, and if you want some real proper answers to stuff you can't just keep asking your nearest and dearest can you?  I mean that's like living in a protected bubble.  It's all very nice but it's not "real life" and I need to function in the big girls' world.

So I'm blogging about this and throwing it open to everyone.  Please let me know any thoughts that you have.  I'm a big girl I can take (OK try to be kind).

I will be 35 next week.  Not a particularly significant birthday but I find anything that ends in a "5" or an "0" often makes me do a kind of evaluation of my life (a bit like the tombola at the school fair but you get a life assessment instead of someone else's junk).  Professionally I am not really doing what I wanted with my life.  Don't get me wrong I am a solicitor and that's all I've ever wanted to be in life from about the age of 12 (I won't share my career ambitions prior to 12 as they were a touch, er, flighty).  But I never wanted to make lots of money (obviously as I've grown up I've developed certain expensive tastes and I have 2 children so money is good but not the be all and end all).  To me it was about standing up for people who couldn't stand up for themselves.  It might sound a bit trite but honestly that's it.  Initially I wanted to be an employment lawyer but fell in to family law where I have stayed.  On a recent course someone said that all family lawyers are rescuers and I think that that's true to a large extent.  It certainly is for me.

Somewhere along the line it all got a bit difficult because frankly I have this habit of soaking up other people's problems like a sponge and as any small child will tell you if you soak up enough stuff into a sponge it gets pretty heavy.  I'm getting better at it and I've certainly come a long way since my work related mini breakdown and depression.

But I feel that I am not being the sort of lawyer I want to be.  This is partly my working environment because it's become all about costs and fees targets and less about the people.  This depresses me and doesn't really inspire me to do the best job.  I'm very much about the people.  But I also have to take some of the responsibility.  Don't get me wrong I'm not commercially unaware.  Lawyers form businesses.  Businesses need to make money.  But I believe passionately that if you do a good job for people and put their best interests at the forefront of what you do then they will recommend your services, be happy to pay for it and you have a very good business there.

So I've been thinking a lot lately about what I want from a job, from life and what I should be doing.  A lot of thoughts have gone round in my head.  I'm not happy, but will things be better in another job?  What if I can't work the same hours or part time because I want to be there for my children as well.  I have not had a pay rise for a long time and bluntly me and my husband could do with more money coming in.  Don't believe the hype about lawyers all being rich bastards cos it just ain't true.  Some are, many aren't.  These thoughts have gone round in my head and round (often at 3 a.m) and, well, it's hard to make sense of that kind of stuff.

So then it got me thinking that really it's about priorities and what are mine?  I've thought about this a lot and really my priorities are ordered as follows:

1. My children

This is far and away the priority.  Yes I could probably get a job somewhere else as a solicitor and I might even find it a nicer place to work.  But flexible working in lawyer world is rare and usually something you have to earn rather than being given it on day one.  For me I am not prepared to work more hours than I do now.  Don't get me wrong I am flexible and will often do bits from home and speak to the office most days I'm not in and I always make sure the work is done.  But my son is generally only taken to school and picked up by me, my husband or my Mum.  My daughter spends 1 or 2 days a week in nursery and the rest of the time she's with me, my husband or my Mum and that's the way I want it to stay.  I must stress that this is in no way a judgment on parents that work full time because I really don't believe in that kind of stuff.  It's a decision my husband and I made about what is best for our children based on them and our circumstances.  That's it.  I believe everybody does what's right for them and their children.  End of.

2.  Ethics. 

I know and I'm a lawyer!  Seriously I have very strong views on what I think is right and wrong and what's fair and what's not fair.  I am not prepared to compromise that.  I will not issue proceedings to make a firm money if it's not right for the client.  I don't believe in shafting colleagues to get ahead yourself.  I am a huge believer that you reap what you sow.  So this is something I won't compromise on.

3.  Money. 

As I said earlier this is not the be all and end all but sadly we do have to pay bills and the sad reality is that we have more bills to pay and I want to make sure my children are provided for (note for their futures and for their interests and wellbeing - I don't mean they need an ipad each etc).

So these are the conclusions I've come to.  I've searched a lot and can't find a job doing what I do now in a better place on the same hours for double the money (go figure).  So what the hell do I do?  I've talked a lot on twitter and to various helpful people about going it alone and there is a part of me that is pretty fired up for that.  But I'm also really scared.  I'm scared because I need to pay bills every month and I need an income every month and I'm not sure setting up on my own would do that.  I've also seen it go wrong.  Plus I don't really want to be a lawyer on my own.  I feel I would be tied to it and it wouldn't give me the flexibility I need to pick it up and put it down.  I love the idea of setting up my own mediation practice but although I am a mediator I have not done sufficient mediation to make this a sensible idea.

So I'm a bit stuck really.  My husband tells me we have a plan but that's not really true.  It's a bit of a "well do that and then see" type thing.  To be honest I'm more of a bullet pointed list type of girl.  I absolutely love being a mummy and my home life is pretty darn lovely (well save for when you discover they've tried to flush another loo roll down the toilet but I digress) but my professional life is really not doing it for me and I need a change of direction or a kick up the arse or just something.  But I'm not really sure what that something is.  If anybody has any thoughts/comments/ideas/pearls of wisdom then please share.  Because right now I'm open to ideas.........