Julian Ryan

Julian Ryan, Senior Associate

FAL Lawyers’ paid parental leave program offers staff of all genders 26 weeks of fully paid parental leave, to be taken at any time within two years of a child’s arrival. In order to give families ultimate flexibility, the policy does not distinguish between primary and secondary caregiver.

In the first half of 2022, FAL Senior Associate Julian Ryan took paternity leave to care for his newborn son Billy. As a result, he got the opportunity to be a full-time Dad.

For Jules, the chance to become Billy’s primary carer was very important to him. It not only would mean more time to bond with his newborn, but also an equal division of responsibilities at home.

“My partner and I had always planned on splitting the first 12 months equally, spending six months each as primary caregiver.

And FAL were incredibly supportive of my choice. The common theme of the discussions we had was ‘whatever you need, we’ll support you and make it work’.”

“In the end I took a month off after Billy was born to get everything settled at home and spent the first half of this year as a full-time Dad.”


The Experience of a Lifetime

While the transition from being a full-time lawyer to primary caregiver is never an easy one, it was an incredibly rewarding experience. And Julian wouldn’t have had it any other way.

“Spending six months as Billy’s primary caregiver was one of the most intense and difficult things I have ever done, but it’s an experience that I’m incredibly grateful for because it has given me a chance to get to know my son in a way that not many dads have the opportunity to.  

Being a full-time – and first-time – parent was a humbling experience because suddenly you need to work out and adapt to new and changing routines.  Being thrown into the deep end also meant learning a whole new set of skills very quickly and embracing the chaos that is part and parcel of looking after an infant.

If that doesn’t teach you flexibility, I’m not sure what does.”

For new parents, thinking about taking extended time off to care for their children often comes with anxiety about how the leave will impact their career prospects.

But FAL made Julian’s parental leave experience a positive one, meaning he could confidently put family first.

Throughout his time away, Julian still felt like an important part of the FAL Lawyers.

“Another key factor in making my parental leave a success was the autonomy FAL gave me to make the time my own.  There was always an open invitation for me to call or pop in whenever I wanted, but otherwise, they understood and respected the choice to spend time away from work. 

Other than the occasional check-in and social event, I really had a chance to ‘switch off’ and focus on Billy. But at the same time, I never felt out of the loop with what was going on within the firm.”  


Coming back to work

Parenting responsibilities don’t end when parental leave does.

So, after returning to work following Billy’s first birthday, Julian knew he couldn’t go back to the way things were. 

And FAL’s flexible and remote work options are helping him strike the perfect balance between work and family.

“The reality is that balancing work commitments and childcare responsibilities is always going to be a juggling act, but the firm has taken a lot of the stress out of that by being flexible.

FAL’s remote working policy means I can work from home when I need, which varies from week to week, and not having a set days in the office is a game-changer – avoiding the commute means I can be on deck in the mornings and the day-care runs, or just offer an extra pair of hands when it’s my partner’s turn.

And while remote allows Julian to spend more time at home with Billy, a flexible working week means there’s more quality time as well.

“I’m currently working four days a week, meaning I can spend an extra day caring for and hanging out with Billy.

I can also swap my ‘day off’ depending on what’s happening that week with Billy and work. I’ve found being able to swap days to be invaluable because it means I can continue to be involved in important or interesting work while not having to choose between that and my time with Billy.”


Parental Leave or Successful Career? Why not Both?

FAL’s parental leave policy meant Julian didn’t have to choose between advancing his career as a lawyer and taking care of his newborn son – a choice no one should ever have to make.

“When I think about what the situation would have been like ten or even five years ago, I’m incredibly grateful that I was able to share the caregiving with my partner and spend an extended period looking after my son. 

It’s something I’d encourage anyone who has the opportunity to do as well.”

Interested to find out more? Feel free to contact us today.