Madeleine Jones (AGIA, AGC) is a Lawyer and Workplace Investigator at Justitia Lawyers & Consultants, with extensive experience in compliance and governance and a passion for supporting and advising on long-term, sustainable, and positive policies and practices in workplaces.
Madeleine’s career began in industry-side project management, and she quickly completed a law degree after discovering a knack for governance and compliance. Her interest in workplace relations was piqued when she was introduced to Justitia’s Managing Partner, Sarah Rey, by a mutual friend.
What has your experience with Justitia been like thus far? More broadly, have you had any standout mentors or advice in the legal profession?
Madeleine is no stranger to Justitia – in fact, she commenced her legal career with a role as a Legal Research Assistant at the firm! She describes Justitia as “the most respectful workplace”. She has had the privilege of encountering and the firm has served as a collective mentorship for her development as a lawyer.
Madeleine notes advice from key mentors – a senior corporate counsel as well as peer mentors throughout university – has centred around important themes: keep growing and learning. Perseverance and lifelong learning are fundamentally important to Madeleine, and she emphasises the importance of career role models in fostering work ethic and responding eagerly and positively to change.
What branch of employment law specifically do you work on?
Madeleine works primarily in Justitia’s workplace investigations division. However, this is not simply a reactive role: she aims to help employers identify issues in their organisations early, through frequent and highly detailed workplace cultural reviews. Her background in industry compliance aids immensely: not only does she identify what a healthy workplace should look like and implement policies to achieve this, but so too does she seek to pinpoint and mitigate risks before they metastasize into larger problems.
As an expert in investigating workplaces, what are some ‘green flags’ of a supportive, positive workplace? What do you look for when you undertake a workplace cultural review?
In Madeleine’s experience, the use of performance improvement plans with a genuine and concrete intent to improve employee performance – rather than as a reason to dismiss or reprimand staff – is critical feature of maintaining positive work environments. Fundamentally, Madeleine notes that the most successful and positive workplaces invest in their present staff, rather than simply investing in more staff.
In what ways do you think the pandemic and shift to remote work has affected the exercise of employment law? Do you view remote work as a predominately positive or negative trend?
Madeleine identifies the key pressure point for employment law in remote work to be that: whilst employers have an obligation to provide a safe and supportive environment for the employees to work, they have little power to inspect or regulate when the worksite is the employee’s own home. However, Madeleine emphasises the positives of the shift to remote work in these situations: employers can allow employees to do their work around home commitments when it best suits them, rather that the traditional 9-5 working day. This may aid accessibility to work, especially in situations where an employee may be barred by the distance of a commute, has ill or disabled family members to care for, children’s schooling to oversee, and so forth.
What advice do you have for aspiring lawyers? What do you view as invaluable in developing a legal career?
Speaking directly to the next generation of legal professionals and those interested in workplace relations law, Madeleine underscores the importance of positive role models, as well as the responsibility lawyers have to contribute to society in a meaningful way. In her words, “my advice for current law students or junior legal practitioners is to find someone whose work ethic you respect and want to emulate. There are some amazing and knowledgeable practitioners; however, the way they practice their craft may not contribute to or assist society. I am lucky to work with a team I respect and would be proud to emulate any of them.”
Madeleine Jones was interviewed by Ella Stimpson.