Handling Parenting Challenges as a Full-Time Lawyer
Gennady G. Golovkin, who is a better boxer than $300-million-per-fight Floyd Mayweather, was facing the biggest challenge of his perfect-record career.
"GGG" was preparing to fight a younger, stronger fighter who was thirsty to take Golovokin's championship crown. But that was not Triple G's biggest challenge.
The biggest challenge was deciding whether he should interrupt his training for the big fight so he could be present when his wife gave birth. As it is in legal battles, sometimes you don't know if the tough calls are worth it until it's over. So how do you decide how to juggle parenting duties when your law office wants to monopolize your life?
It is a big work/life problem for lawyers who are also parents. The law demands so much attention, families too often make big sacrifices. Female lawyers, genetically assigned the unique role of giving birth, have it the worst.
Writing for the Atlantic, Leigh McMullan Abramson concedes the point. She tells of the struggles women lawyers face in a traditionally male-dominated career where there is little room for pregnancy and child-rearing duties.
She confirms through her personal experience -- as a mother who "used to be a lawyer" -- and statistics that show women enter the profession in male-equal numbers, but leave in much greater numbers. She says "the flight of women from law firms is explained in part by the failure of traditional firms to deliver the flexible schedules that mothers--and most lawyers in general--want."
Naturally, Abramson advocates for change. But the conflict begs the question: how much is possible?
In the work/life balance, parenting will never be a 50-50 equation -- except perhaps on paper. Even when parents share custody equally, somebody will spend more time raising the kids.
But the balance is changing for some lawyers. Abramson says smaller firms are more flexible about giving attorneys time to be parents; big firms, not so much.
Virtual law offices, telecommuting, and time management techniques can help. But in the end, when the bell rings, what will be the reward for your sacrifices?
It's a tough decision, and you won't really know if you made the right one until the fight is over.
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