Flexible working

Nicola, 38, is a well-known figure in employment law. As the first lawyer to be made an equity partner at Linklaters while working part time, she is a well-respected role model who has paved the way for others. She has extensive experience in all areas of employment law, having tackled the most complex employment litigation and advice, including claims in the High Court.

Coordinating and advising on major global projects, Nicola’s clients include Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank, Balfour Beatty and National Grid. She was instructed on the biggest employment claim in the UK to date, the bonus litigation of 104 claims against Commerzbank and Dresdner Kleinwort, which received significant global media attention as one of the most important commercial cases of recent times. Recently, the bank successfully applied to appeal the High Court ruling, which will be heard in the Court of Appeal in the Spring of 2013.

As mum to three children, Zachary (10), Sacha (9) and Jemima (7), Nicola works a four day week to spend time with her children and her husband, who also has a busy schedule as a surgeon. Working part time also enables her to have the flexibility to be able to do other things with her time, and achieve a better work-life balance.

A member of Linklaters Gender Network, Nicola is a mentor and a role model to many women. She is involved in several formal mentoring programmes, including schemes at her former girl’s school and with King’s College Law School. She actively promotes diversity in the workplace, regularly hosting talks at the firm and speaking at clients events on the subject of part time working, sharing her experiences and advocating ‘alternative’ working patterns and job shares.

Nicola says: “I am delighted to be named in the Timewise Jobs Power Part Time list. This list demonstrates how individuals can now achieve success in the workplace without the need for working traditional hours.  It is long overdue that working in an unconventional manner is now no longer a barrier to reaching the top of your profession. Without doubt, a lot of progress has been made in the past few years, particularly in terms of changing people’s perceptions around part time work. It will be interesting to see how this develops, and what a ‘normal’ working week will look like in the future.”

Nicola continues: “I wanted my working hours to fit in with my changing family needs, and didn’t want to have to compromise on my level of seniority or in my role as a parent. I was fortunate enough to be working for one of the first City firms to really understand that both employers and employees can benefit from alternative working patterns. I never saw any reason for my part time working to have any bearing on my promotion prospects, and am delighted to be able to demonstrate that if you are committed, you can reach your goals while working part time.”

Nicola finishes: “Evidently the UK workplace is continually changing at a rapid pace. I have no doubt that flexible and part time working will be the ‘norm’ by the time my children enter the workplace. I am really pleased to say that employers are increasingly realising the need to offer ‘alternative’ working patterns to support and retain the most inspiring, creative, talented, well-rounded employees, who have interests and commitments outside the workplace.”

Linklaters recognises the need for flexibility to continue to meet client demands and to support the needs of its teams. The firm has launched a set of ‘Flexibility Principles’, designed to encourage a flexible mindset regarding work patterns, and is also experimenting with various approaches to flexible working, including running a homeworking pilot scheme in the  London office. Recently, the firm hosted a flexible working round table event, chaired by Robert Elliott, Chairman and Senior Partner at Linklaters, which was attended by senior representatives from a range of clients including Barclays Capital, BG Group, Deutsche Bank, KPMG, the Post Office and Vodafone.