Article produced by: Kathryn Jump & Lisa Tye
Partners Kathryn Jump and Lisa Tye job share and are joint Head of Shoosmiths Planning and Environment Team.
Lisa talks about her and Kathryn’s job share journey and their experience of job sharing as Partners at Shoosmiths:
“In 2005 I had my first child and my second followed a couple of years later. It was on my return from my second period of maternity leave that I first started to feel that things didn’t seem fair at the firm where I was working. I had been told I was on track for promotion, but suddenly I was told I wasn’t being put forward because my utilisation over the previous year wasn’t high enough – this was a year in which I had spent 6 months on maternity leave!
My colleague at that firm, Kathryn, had also come back to work after having a child and we were both trying to squash a full-time workload into a 4-day week. A germ of an idea started to form - what if we could work together to create circumstances in which a semblance of a work life balance might be found? We had no examples of successful job shares being undertaken, either by fellow lawyers or indeed anybody around us, but given that we had very similar backgrounds and level of qualification, and were both struggling with the way things were, it seemed like a good plan.
So in 2008 we joined DWF in our first position as a job sharing pair of Associates. In 2010 we moved to Semple Fraser as Legal Directors and in 2013 became Partners at Shoosmiths. We applied for all of these posts and promotions as a pair, even attending interviews on each other’s behalf during the other’s maternity leave.
After a period heading up the Northern Planning team at Shoosmiths we now jointly lead the national Planning and Environment team, responsible for driving the team’s growth forward across the UK.
In the early years of our job share we worked a 3 day week each, with a full day overlap on a Wednesday. This enabled time both for handovers and for seeing clients and contacts together where needed. It also meant that we could have proper time to discuss strategies at a time when we were growing our practice, and to bounce ideas off each other on client matters. Whilst there were some clients who were sceptical at first, the benefits of ‘two heads’ plus much more cover than one person can provide (holiday cover etc) soon erased any concerns. We have a number of clients who have been loyal to us over a number of years, through different firms, who are very happy to shout about the virtues of our working arrangements on our behalf. In order to be completely seamless there is inevitably a need for some email watching on our non-working days but the knowledge that there is someone else ‘back at base’ limits the need for us to be directly involved. As we have grown a team around us the sharing of client matters has lessened as there is more scope to delegate, but the need to share managerial responsibilities has increased.
Sustaining a successful job-share partnership for over 10 years has not been easy but we think the keys to our success have been (1) shared ambition; (2) honest and open communication; and (3) patience and perseverance. We have driven each other to be the best that we can both can be.
As Shoosmiths in now a fully agile office and business, this has helped to facilitate our job share arrangement and enable us to make the most of our part-time, job share arrangement so that we can flex our work around family life. Law is a very full on career, but a job share has been the perfect way to manage our burgeoning careers and growing families. A way to deliver on our ambitions whilst also being “present” at home.”
Kathryn and Lisa were recognised as Power Job Sharers in the 2019 Timewise Power 50 Awards. They were both also named Leading Individuals for planning legal work in the 2019 editions of Legal 500 and Chambers UK and as Women of Influence 2019 in Planner magazine.
Sara is the founder and CEO of Ginibee and a proud mum of two legends. Absolutely passionate about making successful Job sharing accessible, Sara set Ginibee up with the sole mission of "making successful Job sharing accessible" and has specialised in optimising and similifying the process to create successful Job shares since 2013 and in doing so has created a unique into a purpose-built platform, to accelerate the creation of Talent Partnerships.
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