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.
For May 2018, we are pleased to share insights from Lisa Hansen, Partner, Lathrop & Gage (Kansas City, MO).
Lisa Hansen: I was previously at another firm and then came to Lathrop & Gage as a lateral associate in 1998. I was working a full time schedule at the time, but once I came back from my first maternity leave, I switched to a 75% reduced hours schedule in 2002. I wanted to continue practicing, but I knew a full time schedule was not going to work for my needs with a newborn at home. I also knew I didn’t want to limit myself to certain days in or out of the office. I wanted the flexibility to leave the office when I needed to – without any questions asked. The firm was very supportive of my “ask” even though there weren’t many other flex attorneys at the firm at the time.
My schedule has shifted slightly over the years as my kids have gotten older. But I’ve always come into the office every day, and I’ve left when I needed to in order to be present for other obligations. I made partner while working reduced hours in 2015, and I’ve remained on this flex schedule ever since.
Flexibility has been so important to my family, and my schedule has adjusted over the years as my children have grown. I would not have been able to stay with the firm for these past 15 years had they not supported my request for reduced hours. When I first starting working flex in 2002, there wasn’t a formal procedure in place because it wasn’t that common at the firm. I came up with my own proposal, and luckily it was approved. The firm has progressed so much on these issues and has implemented flex into the culture – now there is a formal process in place. It’s less daunting for an associate to work a flex schedule, especially when they see others like me can succeed at the firm.
DFA: How have the firm and clients contributed to your flex success? How has flexibility contributed to your business development and sustainability of working at a firm?
LH: Some clients know I leave at a certain time, and there are others that have no idea I’m working reduced hours. Quite frankly, it doesn’t matter because I’m in the office every day, and I’ve always been available to handle any matters that arise.
DFA: Looking back, what would you tell your first year associate self? Would you do anything differently?
LH: I’m not sure I would have done anything differently. You have to be confident in what you want, and you don’t have to follow someone else’s structure. There’s more than one way to incorporate flex into your career and be successful. It’s what works for you. The stress level may vary over the years, but looking back, I can’t even imagine what the whirlwind would have been like when I had three kids under 5 and working without flex. In some respects, it’s easier now since my kids are older. But the bottom line is to not compare yourself to others. You have to make your own path.
DFA: How do you pay it forward, and how do you recharge your batteries?
LH: I’ve always tried to make time for younger associates who have questions or want to talk about work-life issues. I try to mentor them and be a resource for them. I’m happiest when I’m spending time with my family – it’s how I best recharge my batteries from any stresses at work.
If you are a professional working a flexible schedule and would like to share your story in an upcoming Spotlight on Flex, contact Eliza Musallam.