The Spotlight on Flex showcases professionals from member organizations who exemplify personal and professional success while working a flexible schedule. Their stories illustrate the long-term benefits that flexible schedules offer to both individuals and organizations.
Diversity & Flexibility Alliance: How have you made work-life control a priority and a success with your schedule? How has your client contributed to this?
Julia Markley: I’ve adapted my schedule to fit the needs and responsibilities of the different stages of my career. I was a mid level/senior associate and had my first child when I started a reduced hours schedule with four days in the office and one day out. I was of counsel and a junior partner when I had my second child, and I recognized that this schedule was not working for me anymore. I switched back to five days in the office with a remote touch on emails and availability due to higher work demands.
My client, Laura Proctor, Associate General Counsel of Louisiana-Pacific Corporation, has played a significant role in the success of my professional development and making my flexible schedule work. She is always very respectful and supportive by scheduling meetings during regular business hours even though we are on different coasts, and she always makes it clear that unless it’s a true emergency her matters can be handled within a reasonable time frame. I am very proud and grateful for my long-term relationship with Laura and the company.
DFA: How has working flexibly made your career more sustainable?
JM: Having obligations and interests outside of work has made me a more balanced person, and more importantly it has forced me to be strategic about what I choose to take on. I’ve learned to practice by design and not by default – I’ve learned to say “no” to requests that are not part of my main interests or goals.
DFA: Why and how did you decide to work a flexible or reduced hours schedule? What would you do differently or tell your first year associate self?
JM: My decision to work a reduced hours schedule came after I had my first child. I was very lucky to have other women in the firm pioneer this “ask” before me and prove that this schedule was possible. I knew there was a stigma associated with working a reduced hours schedule, so I over-compensated by taking on too much to prove that my status as a go-to associate didn’t change. Looking back, I would have better communication with my colleagues and not been so hard on myself. I know my skills and work ethic didn’t change even if my schedule did.
I would tell my first year associate self to look up more – lift your head, get out of your office, and start growing personal relationships sooner. Relationship building is just as important as doing good work!
DFA: How do you recharge, and how do you pay it forward?
JM: Running keeps me energized and clears my mind – I do some of my best thinking while I’m running! My family is what keeps me grounded. One hug from my kids instantly relieves any headache after a long, hard day at work.
I firmly believe in paying it forward by mentoring junior lawyers, especially junior female attorneys of color. I am very grateful to be a Filipina woman attorney, and I believe in helping others through OAPABA (Oregon Asian Pacific Bar Association).
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If you are an attorney working a flexible schedule and would like to share your story in an upcoming Spotlight on Flex, contact Eliza Musallam.