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The Struggle is Real: Strategies for Practicing Law While Raising Kids [Panel Discussion]

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In collaboration with the Women’s Bar Association & the National Association of Women Lawyers

 

The panel consists of mothers from a variety of legal careers in a variety of stages of being a parent.

Topics discussed:

  • Strategies for balancing work and children
  • The stress and emotions that comes with balancing a legal career and children
  • Understanding that the struggle is real, and you are not alone
  • Strategies for shedding “parent guilt”

An amazing panel of attorneys shares their own experiences with making the balance work for them in this hour-long discussion. Additional time featuring Q&A from the live program is included in the recording.

 

MEET OUR PANEL

Jessica Ragosta Early, a Partner at Holland & Knight, is trial lawyer who has represented clients in the prosecution and defense of claims in federal and state trial courts and courts of appeals.  She has particular experience litigating and otherwise resolving commercial real estate disputes and disputes concerning low-income housing tax credit partnerships.  Prior to joining her current Firm, she served as a judicial clerk in the Massachusetts Appeals Court for the Honorable Scott L. Kafker, now a justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. She is a cum laude graduate of Boston College and received her JD from University of Connecticut Law School with high honors.  Attorney Early is passionate about empowering women and girls, and successfully obtained asylum for a mother and daughter fleeing persecution in Brazil. She also serves as a Holland & Knight Women’s Initiative co-coordinator for the Boston office, is as an active member of the Women’s Bar Association and a past member of the Board of Directors of YW Boston.

Jessica also is the mother of three energetic boys who are 4, 7 and 9 years old.

Allison S. Cartwright is a Managing Director with the Committee for Public Counsel Services and has extensive litigation and jury trial experience. She previously owned a general law practice in Jamaica Plain while simultaneously serving as a supervising attorney with Suffolk Lawyers for Justice, Inc. Allison also held the position of assistant corporation counsel for the City of Boston. She was appointed to the Board of Trustees at Regis College. Attorney Cartwright has held many other appointments and board memberships including the Boston Police Reform Task Force, the Mass. Advisory Board on Probation, the Governor’s Restorative Justice Advisory Committee, faculty at the Harvard Law School Trial Advocacy Workshop, the Mass. Black Lawyers Assoc., and Mass. Black Women Attorneys. Her law degree is from Boston College, and has a Master of Arts in English and American studies from Michigan State University, and received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Michigan.

Allison is the mother of a 15-year-old son who is a competitive athlete excelling in track, basketball, and football.

Gloria Tan is First Justice of Middlesex County Juvenile Court. She was appointed to the bench in 2013. She previously served as the Deputy Director at Harvard Law School’s Criminal Justice Institute, where she taught and supervised law students representing indigent adults and youth in criminal and delinquency proceedings in Boston. She began her legal career as a public defender representing juvenile and adult clients in the Youth Advocacy Project and the Boston Trial Unit of the Committee for Public Counsel Services. She serves on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) Jury Management Advisory Committee, the MA Trial Court Standing Committee on Alternative Dispute Resolution, and the Board of Trustees for the Flashner Judicial Institute. She was a recipient of the Massachusetts Bar Association Access Justice to Award in 2013. She graduated with a B.A. from Rice University magna cum laude and as a member of Phi Beta Kappa and earned her J.D. from Yale Law School.

Judge Tan has two daughters-an athletic 15-year-old who loves sports and sunsets and an empathetic 18-year-old who loves Boba tea and flowers.

Arivee Vargas is a certified life and high performance™️ coach for women professionals and is the host and founder of Her Humble Rising podcast. She coaches women executives, big law lawyers, and other women in fast-paced workplaces on navigating their career and personal crossroads and helping them take steps to create the change they really want and need. Earlier in her career, she was an Associate at two prestigious law firms-Goodwin and Jones Day practicing in complex commercial litigation. Additionally, she was a Law Clerk to the Honorable O. Rogeriee Thompson, U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit and Inaugural Law Clerk to the Honorable Denise J. Casper at United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. Prior to starting her own business, she worked in-house at Vertex Pharmaceuticals. Arivee is a Double Eagle receiving her undergraduate degree from Boston College and her JD from Boston College Law School. She was also named as a 40 under 40 honoree by the Boston Business Journal and received numerous awards from Boston College throughout the years. She is currently on the Boston College Alumni Association Board of Directors and was a Boston Region Board Member at Strong Women Strong Girls.

Arivee is the mother of two girls who are 2 and 6 years old and a boy who is 8 years old.

Katie Wurman is an Associate at Fitch Law Partners and practices in the area of family law and complex matters involving custody, support, and the division of property. Prior to working at Fitch, she worked at a well-regarded Massachusetts family law boutique firm. Catie served as a volunteer attorney for the Women’s Bar Foundation Family Law Project, the Attorneys Representing Children (“ARC”) program with the Norfolk County Probate and Family Court, and the Judge Abber “We Can Negotiate” Initiative with the Massachusetts Family and Probate American Inn of Court. She is the author of A Blessed Union: Technology Expanding Private Conversations Exempted by Massachusetts’s Spousal Disqualification Rule to Voicemail Messages published in the Suffolk Journal of Trial and Appellate Advocacy. She received her undergraduate degree from Boston University and her JD from Suffolk University.

Katie is the mother of a 2-year-old son.

 

TRANSCRIPT

AMY LEVINE: Okay, it looks like our numbers have stabilized. So I’m going to get going again, we have a lot of a lot to talk about today. So one I just wanted to welcome everybody to the discussion on The Struggle is Real: Strategies for Practicing Law while Raising Kids. Just wanted to introduce myself. My name is Amy Levine. I’m the Director of Programs and Volunteers here at Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers. And for those that don’t know Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers, is a free and confidential service of mental health resources, addiction recovery support and practice management services. Wanted to thank all of our panelists for joining; I know everybody again is so busy.

I’m going to do a quick introduction. First, our moderator is Jessica Early. She is a partner at Holland & Knight. We also have the Honorable Gloria Tan, who is the First Justice of Middlesex County Juvenile Court. Allison Cartwright, a managing director with the Committee for Public Counsel Services, Arivee Vargas, certified life and high performance coach, she’s also the people and organizational development senior director at Vertex Pharmaceuticals. Tiffany Ambrose, executive legal recruiter at LHH Recruiter Solutions, Katie Wurman who is an associate at Fitch Law Partners. And I encourage everyone to read their bios on our website, we have again limited time, so I’m not going to go through every detail.

Also Questions and Answers to follow, we will stay past 5pm. For those that can stick around, we would love to have you. Also for any questions, please put that in the chat box and we’ll get to those at the end. Again, since we have a lot to cover. I’m going to hand it over to our moderator, Jessica Early.

 

JESSICA EARLY: Thank you, Amy. And good afternoon, everybody. Thank you for joining us today. This is a topic that we are all very passionate about and have lots of thoughts on so we’re excited to dive in. But before we do that, we thought it might be helpful for you to know just a little bit more about us. So that if any particular circumstance of our practice and personal lives resonates with you and may inspire a question, you’ll kind of know what you’re working with here. So I’ll kick it off that I am a partner at Holland & Knight. I do business litigation, and I have three boys ages nine, seven and four. I had two of them as an associate here at Holland & Knight and one as a partner. I’ve been here my whole career, so can also talk to kids at different phases of firm life. And I’m gonna go in order of my Hollywood Squares here with Katie to give a little bit more of an overview.

 

KATIE WURMAN: Thanks, Jess. So I’m Katie Wurman. I’m an associate at Fitch Law Partners. I do family law, and I’ve been practicing for seven years and I have a two year old son and my husband I live in JP

 

JESSICA: Yeah. Arivee.

 

ARIVEE VARGAS: Hi, everyone. I am Arivee. I have an eight year old boy, six year old girl, and two year old girl. Yes, she was born during COVID. So that was quite an interesting experience. And I was practicing at Jones Day and Goodwin Proctor, I also clerked and then made my way in house to Vertex Pharmaceuticals and the litigation compliance group. I did that for four years and then went into Employee Relations and HR and now work primarily on leadership development and executive coaching at Vertex. And I live in Newton, Massachusetts.

 

JESSICA: Thank you. Allison.

 

ALLISON CARTWRIGHT: Hi, good afternoon, everyone. I’m Allison Cartwright. I am currently a managing director with the Committee for Public Council Services. That’s the public defender agency in Massachusetts. I previously had started my career in CPCS. And then I had for a long stretch, I had my own firm. And I then came back to CPCS. I am an adoptive mother of a 15 year old son. And I was present at his birth. So I from moment one, have been a solo parent, not a single parent, a solo parent. Pleasure to be here.

 

JESSICA: Thank you, Allison. Tiffany.

TIFFANY AMBROSE: Hi everybody, my name is Tiffany Ambrose. I am a recovering litigator and now legal recruiter. Before I got into recruiting, I practiced for about eight years primarily in family law. I have a three year old son and one year old twin daughters. I had my son in the depths of the pandemic as well in May 2020 While I was still practicing, and I had my twins while recruiting, so I can kind of talk about that, and, and the differences and I’m very happy to be here.

 

JESSICA: Thank you. And last, but certainly not least, Judge Tan.

 

HON. GLORIA TAN: Hi, everyone. I’m Gloria Tan. I am currently a judge on the Juvenile Court in Middlesex County, I sit currently in Cambridge. Prior to that I was for 10 years, I supervised law students in the criminal defense clinic at Harvard Law School. And then prior to that, actually, right after law school, I was a public defender worked at the Committee for Public Counsel Services, just like Allison did, and represented indigent adult and juvenile clients in the Boston Municipal Court and in Suffolk Superior Court as well. Oh, I’m sorry, I have a few daughters, 15 and 18, 10th grader and a first year in college.

 

JESSICA: All right, so we’re gonna kick off topics for the afternoon with childcare, one of the very important tools to being able to practice law and have children and in first gonna turn to Katie to share kind of her experience and some tips on that, and I’m planning for the unexpected.

 

KATIE: Certainly, well, so two years. So we I guess we were still in the pandemic when my son was born, we kind of had to scramble a bit. And I’m not the only one obviously, in this crew that had to figure out what daycares were still open, which was an interesting one, a lot of them closed. Obviously, being in Jamaica Plain, you’re kind of navigating the city element as well of, you know, the lots of competition in Jamaica Plain, workplaces to be. And we’re a little lucky at that point, my husband was still a teacher. So I guess we could kind of finagle the hours. But we ended up actually doing an au pair and then getting him into a daycare just to carry us past the extreme closures that were going on with daycare places at that time.

And, you know, so a little bit, we were lucky within my getting my husband’s duty more, but was then at least able to be a little more available. But still, you know, it’s a lot of talking about scheduling and being realistic, and then trying to organize ways to work from home while he’s home, which doesn’t always work, we actually ended up all getting COVID in April of 2022. And thank God, we had the au pair, there so at least we could switch off, but all of us were simultaneously sick or trying to care for my son at that time. And it was really difficult to navigate, because obviously you’re trying to then at that point, oddly enough, I’d actually just started a new job, because on top of it all, I just switched jobs. So it’s a little bit trying to please a boss, obviously, make sure my son was being cared for, you know, trying to also be respectful of my husband’s time, because, you know, even though, you know, I think there can be the assumption that maybe he had more time than I did, he obviously still had many expectations for his work and really trying to be as transparent as possible, what each of our needs were and, you know, led to some super stressful days. And we don’t have a network of family here. So we couldn’t really rely on anyone. And obviously COVID meant that it’s a little difficult to sort of turn to random people either to kind of make sure they’re safe enough. So we do a lot of kind of scrambling to things together and sort of figuring out like, Okay, you do we do this thing, even now. It’s like you’ll take the morning session, I’ll take the afternoon session, we’ll split the day. Find a way for the two of us to kind of be able to watch him and still kind of work from home while he’s running around.

And it’s uh, you know, it’s a little bit of negotiation, I’m very lucky, my job is very aware that I, you know, have a kid at home, I think there’s an element to of, you know, you’re not supposed to talk about being pregnant, you’re not supposed to, I guess talk about really being a parent, that’s kind of old, maybe a little bit, obviously, for legal reasons you can but also there’s element to have, you know, how much are we supposed to be sort of talking about your family dynamics. And I think that’s evolving a little bit in the offices, I’m noticing, but I’m very lucky because I can be very open and transparent with my boss, bosses, and just be very clear of like, I will get the work done. It just may happen at a slightly sometimes different pace, depending on how the week is going. But, you know, sometimes you have times where the schedule is just sort of a little tight, and you kind of have to scramble, it’s been a lot of late nights and sort of figuring it out as I go, and you want to do well on your job.

But there’s times a lot of times where you’re kind of feeling like you’re sort of and I know I struggle with this right of am I giving my most to my boss and my showing my best work or am I sort of, you know, failing to meet my own expectations regardless of what my boss wants, you know, my own expectations, my bosses’ expectations, you know, my child’s expectations on how much I’m going to be available, it’s a little bit of a, throwing the balls in the air. And just sometimes it’s just seeing where things land and trying to be very good to myself and to my spouse that we both are just trying our best and when we can try to pull in family or friends or a babysitter to let us take a break when we can, which is you know, what happens when it happens, I guess?

 

JESSICA: Well, and in terms of, so I’ll say one of the best advice I ever got before I had kids was to this whole notion of planning for the unexpected, right of not just having like a Plan A of your childcare. But for anyone on the on the call who hasn’t experienced children yet, that whatever you think is gonna happen, something’s gonna sabotage that, like, if you have daycare, the kids are gonna get sick, and then who’s gonna watch them. Or if you have a nanny or an au pair, I’m sure, you’ve seen both of these, Katie of your au pair is gonna get sick, or your nanny is gonna get sick or suddenly quit on you, or Lord knows. And it’s having all these Plan B, C and D. And so, you know, I know for us, personally, my husband also is a lawyer at a firm. So we’re juggling crazy schedules. And we basically have a roster of babysitters. They’re, thankfully, all in school now, we had daycare before that, but we have a roster of babysitters, and when one can’t do it, I go to the next one, and I go to the next one. And we kind of have that deep bench.

And I will say for us, we recently used care.com. It was a mixed bag, but I will say we found some pretty good babysitters for it. And, also in terms of the resources you may have, I have so many of my colleagues’ adult children have babysat for my kids or their friends’ kids. And so I even got desperate recently in trying to plug post COVID childcare and put a LinkedIn post up. I mean, it was like, whatever it takes to find it. So that’s one bit of advice I would offer up is to think ahead of time and have this bench lined up. So you’re not scrambling in the moment when something falls through, or you have a last minute plan. And, Katie, I don’t know, if you like how did you find an au pair? And how was that like, I’ve never done that when people might be interested in that.

 

KATIE: Yeah. And that was actually a little bit on the fly too, because we originally thought just going straight for the daycare thing. And I was just hearing horror stories from everyone as to how bad it was, you know, just places closing for a month or you know, kid gets sick, and then they just kick everyone out for a week. And then you say, well, what’s the point of what I’m paying for? And it’s not, I would say an au pair, I mean side elements a little more interesting in Massachusetts, because the good part is we have certain protections in place to pay them a certain amount. So we actually require a minimum wage, which is, you know, a good thing. But they also limited in theory, if you’re respecting the rules, you also have a limit to how many hours per week. So it was like how am I going to do a 40 hour week and have time or transportation and somehow stick within I think it was like the 45 hours a week that I was allowed to max use them for when every hour kind of counted. And you know, occasionally we kind of had to sort of work with her as to how would you be willing or kind of a little bit she had to be forgiving with us and a couple times when we were late and stuff but she was fine with it because you know, we really tried to be transparent with her.

But it’s not there’s no there’s no perfect system. There’s nothing that’s going to work, you know, the way it exactly should. And you’re right. There’s kind of that element of developing the roster. I mean, I’ve asked a fellow attorneys, can they recommend babysitters they’ve worked for. I talked to everyone, I’m just I think I think the important thing is, I mean, I know it’s not possible for everyone, but if you can be open and transparent, you know, I have some great colleagues from law school that we try to be super open about our issues, because I think we’re maybe timing wise hitting the right time. Because right, there’s a situation of, you know, I have a young son, a lot of people I know, we’re just getting married and having young children and all of us are trying to acknowledge the fact that we don’t have, you know, that existing, you know, network of people, even if it’s not family, just in general that are available and trying to develop that list.

And sometimes it means talking to colleagues about what’s going on and trying to be honest, if you can develop that level of rapport, right, you’re creating colleagues for life, but sometimes that personnel um, it comes in too, so I found a lot of people very receptive, actually, in family law that I’ve worked with that are completely understand, and say, sure, I can recommend someone, you know, try to see if we can find a high school student because that was a little cheaper sometimes to get them. Or we get lucky in Jamaica Plain, we have Facebook pages, which says, like Jamaica Plain Childcare, and we score it and I just, you know, when I see a number of pop up, I tried to reach out to them and get answers and say, hey, are you available, like, you know, if I can find something in future, you kind of, you know, you do what you can to sort of develop the roster, develop the relationships.

But I would say even to be honest, you’d be surprised how often your colleagues like really do understand what you’re going through and are more than happy to step in, even if you don’t work in the same firm as you. Because I worked in small firm for a long time before even Fitch, which I know is not huge, but I used to work on like solo practitioners. And so you’ve really had to, you know, expand your network, trust the people like even if you’ve worked on the opposing side, if it seems like there’s anything slight smile friendly face, I mean, Tiffany, I met that way, right? We just opened up and said, you know, it’s just, it’s been so much it’s so overwhelming, and feeling comfortable enough to kind of open yourself up to that and really let your colleagues connect with you on that level. I think I think there’s a, there’s a lot of people out there that are willing to sort of step in, and maybe they can’t personally help you with something, but they’re more than happy to connect you with somebody.

 

JESSICA: So I also have an opposing counsel’s daughter on my roster. So there we go. Right. It kind of, you know, the community. One other tip before moving on from childcare to our next topic. When we didn’t have kids, we would always offer to our friends, we’ll watch your kid, no one ever took us up on it. I don’t know what that says about my husband and I. But when we had kids, at least when we only had one, no one’s volunteering for three anymore. All of our friends would say that and we took them up on it, we left our baby with our bachelor friends who didn’t even know how to change a diaper like we did it. And we’re better for it. So when people are offering you help, assume that you actually need it. My one other tip before we move on. So thank you, Katie. So one thing that hopefully everyone noticed that we have a range of different ages of children across our panel. So I’m going to turn it over to our two more experienced moms to talk about kind of the different phases of child raising and career, and balancing it across kind of the different ages of your kids and the different phases of your own career and how that’s evolved and how you’ve navigated that. So I think first we’ll turn it to Judge Tan.

 

JUDGE TAN: Let me unmute myself. Thanks, Jess. And so actually listening to Katie talk about daycare, and all the sort of challenges that come with that, you know, I definitely remember those days. And I think that it’s, you know, I’m not sure that I’m more experienced but rather, I have older children, right. And so I think that moving through the different stages, I will say, you know, I went back to work at six months, after six months of maternity leave for both of my children. And I actually was very lucky, I had a really wonderful boss at the time, who was very understanding about maternity leave, and really encouraged me to take as much time as I wanted to, and I just cannot express how grateful I was for that.

I remember, and Allison, you can appreciate this. I was nursing. And so for the six months, when I first got back to work, you know, I had to I went to the Roxbury Court Clinic and borrowed one of the rooms, you know, and I was juggling cases, numerous cases a day in Roxbury. And I had to and you know, cases get ready at various different times, you just don’t have much control over when your case is called. And so I remember going to the clerk in the session, who was a woman, and I don’t believe at the time she had, she didn’t have children at the time, she now has children. And I’d be interested to see how she would respond to me now as opposed to 15 years ago when I asked if she could hold off on calling my case and got kind of, not the most supportive response. And you know, and I remember walking out of there thinking, you know, it’s not like I’m going to get my nails done, you know, it’s like, can you just hold off for 15 minutes. And there’s a lot of stress I think that comes with, you know, being a very new parent or having really like babies and working. And then I remember, every time there was a snowstorm being forecast being seized with this panic and waiting to hear, okay, are the schools going to close. And if so, you know, having the conversation with my husband, okay, who’s gonna stay home, right.

And, you know, with every phase of parenting, I think, come different challenges. And I remember with each stage, like, it was huge, you know, whenever they start walking, whenever they start, be toilet trained, right. And then the big one for me, and I’m sure for all of you as well, or will be for those of you who haven’t gotten there yet is when they can stay home by themselves. Like, that is such a game changer, right. And so we all know, it’s huge, just like your whole life just opens up. And it’s like a weight lifted, because now I don’t stress out every time there’s a snowstorm, or even if your child has a fever, you know, and I will say, and I hope nobody will report me, but I have left sick kids home by themselves. You know, and it’s not obviously ideal, far from ideal, but you know, when but as a working parent, sometimes you just cannot, depending on your job, you cannot, you know, if you’re a physician, you can’t always reschedule those patients, right, who’ve taken time off, if you’re an attorney, you can’t, it’s not so easy, because if you have a client in custody, or you have a big motion, you have to, you know, argue or if you’re a judge.

And you know, I’ve had the experience of having to, before my kids were able to stay home by themselves, having to schlep my poor daughter, sick child to the court because the judge who’s, now I’m now the first justice in my county, but it wasn’t always at the time. You know, unfortunately, I didn’t have the support that I had hoped that I would when I had to call and I even gave him like 24 hours notice, like I said, I know my daughter has a fever, they’re not going to let her come in tomorrow morning, she has to be 24 hours fever-free. And sort of asking, Hey, can someone please go? And the answer’s no. And they’ll just have to you just have to reschedule. They’ll just have to reschedule all the people who are supposed to have their court date, you know, that day, and I just didn’t feel right. And so making that decision, that wasn’t maybe the best parent decision, but, you know, I packed my daughter up, took her into court, put her in the back lobby. And, you know, did all the cases and we were able to leave, you know, by noon, but you know, I felt terrible about it. Right.

And so I think it is a problem, I don’t have the answers necessarily in the sense that, what I will say is that I think it’s so important. And now that I’m in a position of being able, you know, now that I’m a first justice, I’m so cognizant and, and I would like to think it would have been anyway, but you know, and even, I think I would just encourage all of you to be empathetic, right? I mean, you were, you know, you’ve experienced this, and maybe you’ve had to rely on sort of understanding and kindness of others, right, whether it’s the court clerk who is being kind of jerky about not wanting to, you know, to postponing calling your case for 10 minutes, or, you know, if a colleague saying, Hey, I’m sorry, I can’t, you know, my daughter sick, or, you know, whatever it is, and say, Don’t worry, I’ll cover you, you know, or saying to, you know, if I’m, if I’m handling a jury, and a juror comes up to me and says, Listen, I have to get home to, you know, to pick up my daughter, my son, you know, being more willing to say, You know what, you’re excused, you don’t have to come sit on this jury panel. And so I think, in terms of the different stages, it gets easier in the sense that yes, now I would probably be feel willing to leave my daughter home by herself and I have, I’ll confess left sick children at home.

And, but then there are different needs. I think, just like with anything, right, I had a colleague tell me, oh, you know, bigger kids, bigger problems. But I don’t know that that’s the case. I think it’s just different. It’s different challenges. And I just want to encourage you know, that there are other people who aren’t really important and you know, useful things to say.

I asked my kids, I said, you know, I’m doing this panel, about, you know, balancing parenting and working. I said, How would you say, my working affected you guys? And I just want to share what they told me because it wasn’t really what I thought they would say, my younger who was 15 said, you know, it’s made me more empathetic. And I thought she was going to have complaints about like, oh, you know, I had to, you know, you were always late picking me up or whatever. And I said, really? I said, So what do you what do you mean? She said, You know, I hear you talk about some of the cases that you you know, did or the kids you represented or the people who cases you heard, and I guess she sort of absorbed some of that. And I thought, wow, that’s really nice. I didn’t expect her to say that. And then on a more kind of practical level, she said, and it made me a better basketball player. And I said, what? She said, Well kind of go to aftercare all those years. And so I just, you know, practice my basketball skills. I thought, Oh, well, that’s good. I’m glad that you know, she gets something practical out of it. And then the last thing I’ll say is my first year in college, she texted me just before this this afternoon, she said that she initially resented it, because she said, You know, I had to go to aftercare. And I felt like nobody else had to go to aftercare. And my kids both hated aftercare. And she said, you know, but that she sort of started to sort of it for her changed to say, and I’m just gonna read you what she said. She says, that, she started to believe that showed me strength. And it’s possible to actually do do stuff for the greater world in your work and doing even more, maybe more impactful for the world through having kids and teaching goodness. And she said, it always ensured I had a role model and dreams. And because she has thought about becoming lawyer, and also had big career dreams, because she saw firsthand how possible it was. And so for all of us, who are just, you know, balancing and tearing our hair out and stressed out and panicked, and, you know, having like, spit up on our jacket, you know, not knowing going to work that way. I think at the end of the day, you know, I think it does, it is a good role, I think we can be really good, strong role models for our children.

 

JESSICA: That is awesome. I’m very proud about that. Allison, please share your experience.

 

ALLISON: I do agree a lot with what Judge Tan has said when the game changer is when you’re able to leave your child alone for an appreciable amount of time. The first time I had to do it was during the pandemic, when there was something at work and I had to go in, physically, I had to go to the office to get it done. And FaceTime is a beautiful thing. I had him on FaceTime, practically the whole time. And the first time I had to go to the grocery store and leave him I’m pushing the shopping cart there, you know, there we are on FaceTime.

And, you know, for me, like I said, I’m a solo parent, my son is an only child. So we’ve always sort of, at least I tried to grow that bond where he could see all of the things that I’m doing, appreciate it, and understand that, you know, we’re a team, we’re a unit. And I’m very unapologetic about being a working parent. And that’s what I would I would say to everyone, don’t apologize, I’m not sorry, you know, I don’t say I’m sorry. I have to go do whatever with my son. And I let everyone know, I was a trial attorney. And every court I worked in, they knew that I had a child. They knew there may be times when you know, yeah, I’m looking at my phone. Of course, you know, the ringers turned off Judge Tan. But there was an occasion once where the person who was supposed to pick my child up from the bus because the after school program had not yet started, I’m in the middle of a hearing in Suffolk Superior Court criminal session. And I’m all of a sudden, around that time because you know, as a working parent, there’s a certain time when your child starts going to school and you know, now they have to get from school to the after school program. So there’s a hypervigilant time period that I’m looking at my phone. Person who was supposed to pick him up, they’re calling me in the middle of a hearing, middle of talking. I just said, I have to take this, I walked out, I flew out of the courtroom in the middle of everything. Nobody said a word to me. Come to find out the person was like, you know, well he didn’t get off the bus and I don’t know the bus is not here and I’m like, oh, where’s my kid? So I had to deal with that situation. But because everyone the judge, everyone knew what my particular situation was. No one was bothered by it.

I even would tell clients listen, I’m, you know at this time, I’m going to make sure you know that my child made it to x, y, and z because my number one concern when I became a mother, my number one priority is my child, it’s not my job. Jobs will come, jobs will go. That’s my child forever, forever. So be very, you know, be bold, be unapologetic. And we’re at a place in society where we can do that. When I graduated law school women were not like, in 1992, women were not 50% of the class, we weren’t anywhere near that. Now, the law schools are majority women. So let’s, let’s run with this. Let’s make it happen. And you look at people like Judge Tan, people in you know, maybe I have a little bit of power in my position, I don’t know. But the women who are now sitting in positions of authority, most of them, struggle, their mothers, they understand that things are changing. And be very, very unapologetic.

I can’t tell you the times, my son like he’s a, he’s a really good athlete. He was on our track team. And I’m criss-crossing going all up and down the East Coast with this from the time he was five. But you know what, taking him to practice two three times a week, I’m sitting there at practice, you know, with cases doing work, or maybe I’m sitting in the car, you know, the track is up over there. You find ways to make it work.

But always also take some time for yourself. So again, be unapologetic, and carve out just a little bit of time for you.

 

JESSICA: Very good advice. So on our next topic of how do you carve out the time for yourself, right? One of the big things is making sure you can ask for help and negotiate shared responsibilities with your partner if you have one, and your children, right. So I’m going to first turn it to Arivee to give a little advice about how to effectively ask for help.

 

ARIVEE: So, and I just wanted to double down on some of the things that people have said so far, which is related to asking for help, right is I’m hearing like this really big theme on adaptability, like adapting in the moment, adapting in each stage of, you know, your child’s growth and development and adapting and each stage of your own career. Because, you know, to Allison’s point, I am also very much on Allison in the sense of, I have no problem saying I have a conflict, I need to leave early. And I don’t even say it’s because of my kids, I just say, I gotta leave at four o’clock. If you need to reach me, you know how to find me. And people usually don’t, you know, if it’s urgent, they unless it’s urgent, they won’t reach out. But I do think it’s important to recognize this adaptability is a skill you have to you have to build, it’s a muscle that will only get stronger, the more you practice, and the more you flex it.

So to Allison’s point about, you know, just how do I, you know, take my son to his practice and then okay, well, I’m just gonna adapt, I’m just gonna do my work in the car, I’m going to be watching, I’m gonna do my case. Judge Tan talking about, okay, well, okay, she my daughter sick, I gotta get to court what I do, okay, well, I’m just gonna take her to court with me, and then we’ll leave at noon. That’s what we have to do in the moment. And we do it. And I think to also, Katie’s point is extending grace to yourself. And so part of extending grace to yourself, is asking for the help that you need in that moment, right, like a lot of us want to do, and grew up with needing to be strong, and needing to do things yourself. You know, a lot of I think a lot of women lawyers are, we’re headstrong. We’re very, I think confident, and we feel like we can take on the world. And we, and we could, but you know, let’s get some help.

And so some of that is ask for what you need in advance, like Jessica said, right, and you have your roster of babysitters. For me, it’s also making sure that you’re set up for success in your week. So you see, some things are coming up and you’re like, oh, shoot, I have like three events this week. That is rare. That happens to me, I usually do one event a month. But for a lot of partners or law firms, that’s not possible because you’re doing business development. But setting yourself up so that in advance your partner or someone can help you during those times and then you will make up the time like for me I try to make up the time with the kids on the on one end of that, right because I’m not home for bedtime. It means a lot to me to be home for bedtime. So I’m gonna I’m going to ask for the help I need for that period of time in advance and then make it up on the back end.

And the other piece is I would say is it’s really really important for women to have conversations like this because that’s also help. Right like having conversations like this makes you understand that you’re not alone. That you when your sanity, you start losing your sanity sometimes. You’re not alone. It happens to a lot of us, even those of us who look like we have it all together, we’re trying to hold it together. And it’s important to note that you can always ask, to Katie’s point, your colleagues for help and support and even talk through a even really, really good friend, I’m really struggling right now, like, I am really struggling right now and friends will be there for you. They may not know what to say all the time. But you just having someone that you can speak to, is really helpful.

And I will always be, I will always promote therapy, like 1,000%. I know many women who are in very high positions, and executives and lawyers, who are having anxiety who struggle with depression, and they’re fully functioning, but they need extra support. Maybe they need medication, maybe they need therapy, women who have coaches just trying to figure out how do I adjust in this phase of my life? How do I continue my momentum? How do I not get sidetracked? And when I do get sidetracked? How do I get back on track. So I think all of those are really important for asking for help. And self care, I agree is you must prioritize your self care and your emotional mental health, no one is going to do that for you. No job is going to do that for you. Like, it’s just not going to happen. You have to prioritize it. And if you don’t, no one else will. And then you won’t be the best you can be for like your kids and your job and your clients and your partner. Just really pay attention to that. Because if you ignore those signals that something is off, it’s going to get louder, and you know, you don’t want to go off, you don’t want to go off the edge there. Because then that would require more significant intervention.

 

JESSICA: And just a couple quick tips on asking for help that I’ve learned through trial and error along the way, is one of being really specific. And I know Arivee already started on this and touched on a little too, but literally like what you need, when you need it, if it matters how you need it. And so not just at home, but at work as well. Because if you’re not getting the support you need and help at work, then that’s even more of your time that’s getting eaten up that you can’t spend with your family. So on both ends of looking for opportunities.

Another one, I always thought if you’re at a firm or anywhere where there’s some unpleasant kind of what you would view as you know, the mundane kind of crummy jobs, I like to think of it as giving someone the opportunity to learn how to do it and grow like I had the opportunity learn how to do it and grow. So it’s again, pushing stuff out, making sure everyone learns how to do it and getting help. And then also a lot of us are very type A, I’m guilty of some things need to be done a very specific way and some things don’t. And like I need to fold the laundry a very specific way. So despite all my husband’s efforts to get me to outsource that one, I cannot, it needs to be Marie Kondo and standing up. But there’s a lot of other stuff I can outsource and it’s just fine. And I can have someone else helped me do it. Like my unless feeding my kids m&ms for breakfast. And it’s cool. And you just have to go with it and let it go a little bit. So those are my tips for asking for help. And then before we move on to turn it over to Judge Tan to talk a little bit about so when you have two parents, and they both are working, similarly demanding jobs, how do you navigate the push and pull between you of making sure both partners are contributing and helping?

 

JUDGE TAN: When I figure it out, I’ll let you all know. No, actually, I am so so fortunate. And I have a very, very supportive spouse. And he and you know, of course, we we obviously, we had our moments, right. And I will say I unlike some of the people maybe on this panel, I went from a more flexible job to a less flexible job. And so when I was an attorney, especially in the job right preceding, right before I got on the bench, I had a very flexible job. I had a very accommodating supervisor who understood, you know, being a parent and said, yes, that comes first and will support you we got your back. And, you know, whenever the snowstorms were, you know, came and school was canceled, I was always the one who was usually able to stay home and I was the one who took the kids to the doctor and I was the one who took the kids to the dentist, you know, and I because my husband’s job was just not that flexible. I had the more flexible job. So when I got it and so, you know, basically all worked out.

And when I got on the bench, we had to have a conversation, you know, and he, I said listen, I can’t really I can’t be the one anymore, you know, and in some ways his job is a little bit more flexible now than mine even though his is his is fairly demanding too. And so we’ve managed to, you know, work out where in the mornings, he has a little more flexibility. And when he can kind of start because he can schedule, he controls some of his scheduling and, you know, Court starts, when Court starts, right, we have set, you know, you have to be in court between 830 and 430. But, you know, on the flip side, you know, 430, I can walk out the door, so, you know, I can handle the end part of the day. And so now we try and schedule my daughter, for example, now has PT, so we schedule those on the later side. And so I am responsible for those appointments. And so, it’s a negotiation, and, you know, there are times when we do have to say, like, listen, I can’t take her to PT today, because I have a panel or whatever it is, you know, and, and so he will, he’ll be able to make accommodations and, and then step in and take and take on that responsibility. And so it is very, very helpful to have someone who is supportive, and I feel extremely fortunate.

But I really think and I think Jess you touched on a really great point, which is that, you know, I like many of you on and don’t see this negatively, but, you know, we all are driven probably right, Type A type of people a little bit, you know, we want to do things the way we want to do them or think that they should be done. And I think you pointed out really, I think a valid concern, which is okay, maybe, you know, I know, when we were planning this, you talked about Well, you said, You sent your husband, I think to go get some, some fish, right. And you’re specific, and he got cod, but he was supposed to you’re in your head, it was salmon, right. And so I think there are times when we just kind of have to let go a little bit and just say, Okay, I was expecting salmon, but I guess we’ll have cod and it’ll be okay. You know, and so I think that those kinds of things of being able to let go a little bit sometimes I think, and I’ve had to learn that as well. I think that those are all all, sort of, we’re all evolving. I know I am. But I think like I said, being able to sort of demand really, right, it’s like, you know, we’re equal for both parents here, you know, and it can’t always fall on one person.

 

JESSICA: Do not suffer in silence, like you have to speak up. And I one very practical tip I will give is that my husband and I send calendar invites to each other to our work calendars, so that something is blocked off. And whoever gets the date first gets the day or if you need to then schedule something to you need to go get the babysitter like we make sure we both have any calendar thing that’s outside normal working hours, so that we know someone will be available to take over from the babysitter or someone will be available to be there in the morning, whatever it is that needs to be done during the week. But calendaring stuff like crazy is a really helpful tool for us.

Alright, I want to keep us moving. So I’m gonna go to Allison to give us your best kind of tips for solo parenting.

 

ALLISON: Well, solo parenting, I think one of the best things you can do is to have your village, I too did not have family here in the Boston area. I came here for law school and eventually stayed. So it’s so important, you know, there’s the family that you’re born into, and then there’s the family that you actively make. And I encourage people to build those relationships with people and honestly, yes, take advantage. If right now I’m sure most of the people on this are probably parents are contemplating parenthood. So it is important to be out there be in the community engaging, whether it’s through work colleagues, some of those are now my very best friends. Whether it’s church or other interest groups that you have, start building your village there and like I think maybe was it Jess, who said that you take people up if they’re offering to help you out? Yes, test it out a little bit. You know, I wouldn’t just like oh, yeah, here’s my baby, you know, you know, maybe for like an hour or so and see how it goes. I, you know, that’s what’s going to make the difference. And it’s also going to give you a bit of relief. Again, like I say whether it’s, you know, the neighbor, you know, and then your child is old enough to talk and you’re fairly comfortable. Yes, you have to start expanding that.

At one point I had, you know, yeah, let’s call her a nanny. She was a high school student of my sister’s. My sister teaches high school. One of our students, and she had a car, she was very responsible, she would two days or two days a week, she would pick him up from daycare. And those two days, I could work late in my office, I could go have dinner all by myself with a book, a glass of wine, whatever it takes, but you can start building your village because you just cannot do it alone. Period, no matter you know, and I’m always, yes, I’m that person who’s, I can do it all by myself. I don’t need anyone well yeah, that’s false. And there’s no sense trying to be Wonderwoman. So get out there, start building your village. If you don’t have, if you don’t have one, and you’re really contemplating this, you need to start doing that. To have parent groups where you know, maybe a couple of parents take all the kids while the other three, four parents can go off yet it’s chaos. But guess what, it’s giving someone a break, and your turn will come too. So I do encourage that.

And whether you are a solo parent, especially if you’re a solo parent, or a single parent, it’s, it’s nothing more important than that. Having that village, being able to rely on other people, things will come up, the unexpected will come up. And it’s not like you know, oh, well, okay, your turn with the kid. No, you have to have things in place. That whole babysitter list, that’s real, have that, have that list of people you can go down, I had at least three people who I could call, you know, at any point to go and pick my child up from daycare if they had to, because good lord, the daycare charges a lot of money per minute if you’re late.

So again, build that village, start building and sometimes your village will change. It’s kind of it’s about adaptability that Arivee was talking about, you know, you have to, you know, have that flexibility and allow yourself that. So I won’t talk too much more, but I couldn’t have made it to where I’m at without having had a village

 

JESSICA: Arivee, do you have anything to add on that topic?

 

ARIVEE: Yeah, I was just going to say that building your village requires a certain amount of vulnerability, right? It’s recognizing that you know, you don’t, you can’t actually do it on your own. The other thing is that, you know, I think about, you know, I’m Dominican, my parents are from the Dominican Republic. So I’m first generation. And they’re when they were young, family took care of family, like they all live near each other and people like the community took care of each other. And I’m pretty sure that even like, you know, years and years ago, in this country, it was similar where you like, there wasn’t this separation families didn’t live in isolation, like we do now. Right? Like now it’s like the nuclear family. And you’re here and someone else is over there. And you don’t share as much.

But that’s not how it used to be in many cultures. And I think that’s why for me, my mom helps me at least once a week, and I’m going to tell you something I am not, Jessica, I know you love doing your laundry with your folding, let me tell you that my mother is like a queen folder. And when I do laundry, my husband goes I can tell who did the laundry this week. Because it is not folded the way that she now it is not it is like folded. And then here you go. But I will say that having help like that. Even one day, even when she comes for three hours, just brings me peace of mind. And her just to me, this sounds so simple but and maybe this is embarrassing, because I don’t fix the bed every day. Even her fixing the bed. I’m like, Oh, just looks so great. And I feel so at ease. Right?

So I do think asking for help takes a certain amount of like, hey, no, I can’t do it on my own. I’m not supposed to be able to do this on on my own because they didn’t do it on their own either before. Right? So I do think we have to lean into that a little bit more. And again, let people be there for you. Right? I am a believer in all of what we’re talking about it about outsourcing. I’m a believer in it. I think the simplest thing you can do is ask a friend. Hey, who do you use for X? That’s what I did. Who do you use for cleaning? Great. I’m gonna talk to them. Okay, who do you still like clean up leaves because I don’t want to my husband is doing it every weekend and it’s taking time away from the kids. So who cleans leaves? Okay, we’re gonna call that person, like literally just go with that. I think a lot of times we get overwhelmed. And we’re like, no, but then I have to go on this website and have to search sometimes you do but we’ll just go with the easy option like we make this way to the way too hard on ourselves honestly.

 

JESSICA: Someone else has already vetted it. It’s good enough. That’s right. Yes. All right. So, Tiffany, we haven’t heard to hear from you yet. We’re going to. Tiffany is going to tackle two big topics at once, which is parent guilt, and career changes.

 

TIFFANY: Oh, yeah. A whole lot of points have been so helpful today, even to me. So for me, my mom guilt was super real. While I was practicing, due to the nature of our jobs, my husband was doing a majority of the parenting during the work week, because I was trying to do it all. And I was trying to be a good attorney. And the guilt was just so intensified because my son started not wanting me, you know, and wanting my husband to do everything. And that’s not the type of mother I envisioned myself being. And, you know, even things like the few times I’d get them from daycare, the daycare teacher would make a big stink about it, like, Oh, Mommy is here today, you know, why are you here? What’s wrong, and it was just so compiling.

And I was just slowly but quickly burning out in every facet, you know, as a mom, wife, friend, daughter, attorney, employee, colleague, as I was just trying to do it all. And I couldn’t. So I tried some troubleshooting. You know, I tried to outsource what I could, got a housekeeper tried to let go of things, you know, hit the laundry pile that I couldn’t even get to folding. You know, I changed firms like, okay, maybe it’s the environment. I started talking to a therapist, so big proponent of that, and well, everything helped a little bit, I still wasn’t happy. I wasn’t shedding that guilt, it was just getting worse and worse. So finally, with the help of my therapist, and some good ideas she had, and all the encouragement and a very supportive husband, I just finally realized I needed to make a much bigger change. It took a huge leap of faith, scariest thing I’ve probably ever done, aside from having children. And I told my firm, I wasn’t going to practice anymore, I had zero idea what I was going to do next.

It was super scary. But finally started to feel a little relief from it. Thankfully, the two partners I worked for both females, moms, they were so understanding, I couldn’t have made the choice, and I’m more in a better environment. And you know, they even let me work a little bit part time because I was like, I don’t know what I’m doing. You know.

And it took me several months to figure it out and find my way, I stumbled my way into recruiting; someone at my company was trying to recruit me, we had similar backgrounds, I told her, I want to be fully remote, I want work life balance. I want to be able to run to pick up my kids from daycare if someone’s sick, and she had a very similar background. And you know, I just started talking to more and more recruiters, and I was like, This sounds awesome. I’m gonna give it a try, I have nothing to lose. And I absolutely love it. And at the end of the day, now, guess what, my son wants me too. And that was the biggest motivation for me to make a change. And now I have twin girls, which were so unexpected. Even when I left practicing, they were, you know, a huge surprise. And I’m there for everything, I am at all the daycare pickups, and no one makes a big deal about it.

So for me, it this was the change I needed and a very welcome change. I think there’s no secret sauce, it’s different for everybody. There’s a lot of aspects of practicing, I enjoyed biggest one I did family law, I loved helping people and helping make a difference in their lives. And that’s what I get to do now in recruiting. So you know, it’s possible to juggle it all. And I hope you’re getting that from all the amazing, you know, women here today.

But you’re not alone. And it is okay to ask for help. And, you know, if you’re considering a big pivot like I did, you know, don’t hesitate to reach out, I’d love to chat with you more about what it was like for me, because it was scary.

 

JESSICA: Another big like, important message out there. And that’s, you also asked for what you needed from the job you eventually landed to. And I think that’s something we also just think, Oh, this is how it’s done. And we don’t necessarily think of okay, what are the flexible options? Or what can I get an accommodation where I can work from home an extra day a week to make this more doable for me and I think that’s really important what you did have asking for the parameters around your work that would make it so you can actually do it in a way that works for you.

 

TIFFANY: Yeah, and I didn’t know it existed really like it didn’t know a career like this was out there for former attorneys. Everyone at my company is all practicing lawyers, you know, and I didn’t even think about it until I have the time to think about it. Like, you know, I was so busy practicing and trying to succeed and be a good attorney that I couldn’t even like, think of what could I do? That would be less demanding on me. So yeah, just a plug for everybody out there, you know, you’re not stuck.

 

JESSICA: And you’re really not stuck. Even if you think you are. Katie is going to talk briefly about changing jobs while pregnant.

 

KATIE: Yeah. It was interesting. I think it’s one of those things where right you’re trying to it, this is the balance, right? You’re trying to do things to improve your circumstances, and be aware of your, you know, professional, like how you’re progressing, I had a great boss, and I loved her, but I felt like some part of me felt like it was good for me to make a change and kind of force myself to grow as professionally. And then you know, we talked about kind of trying, and then there it was, all of a sudden, I was simultaneously thinking about my next move, and also kind of in the midst of pregnancy.

And I actually had been started interviewing, and then it reached a point, it was like, right around like, I don’t know, six or seven months, I was like, this is done, I can’t, I’m showing now. Like, there’s no way I can hide this, right? You can’t talk about it. But it’s kind of obvious if I walk in, and I’ve got, you know, this huge belly in front of me. And, you know, it was kind of that weird thing. And in the end, I mean, I don’t know if it’ll work for everyone, I ended up actually having an incredibly frank conversation, because it was also a lot of COVID Zoom kind of meetings as well, to sort of get to know these new employers. And I met them, I went to their office, and I walked in, I said to you, I know you can’t say anything, but I’m gonna point out that I am due in two months. And I want to be super upfront about it. And I understand the limitations that we’re working within. But I just want to be really clear about and I was lucky, because they actually are like, Thank you for just being straight about it. Should you want to start now, do you want to start after your maternity leave? I mean, it was it was the most refreshing I think I went, you know, you what was so much stress about couldn’t we will understand. And yes, there are women as well.

And maybe that helped us another element too, just to be able to that frank with the conversation. But it’s really, it’s really complicated, right, you’re really feeling all this stress to sort of not show that there might be limitations, that you might not be able to do your job, you might not be able to, you know, show your full potential, you know, and that was really hard in the beginning. I have to admit, like I was your brain’s all foggy in the beginning, and I was really hard on myself as to how hard I was really not showing my full potential. And, you know, I think it’s just and I think the only way to go to three through it is just being very upfront and honest and transparent. And saying, Yes, this may hurt me that I’m being this transparent, honest. And, you know, like many of you have said, right, just being unapologetic about who you are, it can come back to bite you. I’m not gonna say it doesn’t at times, but at the same time, if in the end result, you’ve at least felt like you’ve done what you can to be straightforward about, you know, what your situation is, and how it’s gonna impact your work and how it’s going to impact your surroundings, your mental health and all these things.

You know, I think it I think it I think people are I think you need to give people give yourself grace, but also kind of accept the fact that a lot, a lot of people out there that are actually much more willing to work with you than you realize. And some of it’s because now there’s women that have been in the workforce long enough right? To actually be in positions of power. Plus, I think we have more women in general in the workforce. And I think I think we I think I maybe the optimist in me is too optimistic. But I feel like I really feel like there is actually a lot more people that are out there in your village that are actually there to support you. So maybe just try to be optimistic and trust that people are going to actually step up and actually be amazing and super helpful. So optimism.

 

JESSICA: On the kind of tying up a loose end up or going back to the guilt as our emotional well-being is kind of the ending of our topics here of our set agenda. You know, I will say, some tips I’ll give for dealing with the guilt because it goes both ways, right? Guilt at home and guilt at work is circling back to where we started with childcare, with your help, with your village. And I have found I still suffer from guilt and not gonna say this is a perfect solution. But when I have designated times that this is when I’m working and I know the kids are okay with whatever they’re with. And this is my designated time to be with my children and I know absent an emergency at work, I’m not gonna be bothered, then I can be present with them. And maybe it’s not quantity but it’s quality and I find that helps me where I don’t feel like Oh, I’m not paying attention to someone. It’s what I’m trying to do both things at once that it tends to be it’s worst so to the extent you can get those designated times in the you time, the kid time, you know, the partner time and the work time and have them be set times on that aren’t blurred, I think that helps a lot.

And one tip one of my colleagues gave when we had something like this in house was, she would be at her, you know, her child’s sporting event, and be worrying about the stuff she should be doing at work. And just keep saying to herself, this is where I’m meant to be. This is where I’m meant to be, and ground yourself to try to be present at those times you do have with your kids. So a couple to help and then definitely getting getting help where you need it. And we’re so fortunate here at H&K, we had a colleague who’s now a coach who’s left, but she was so open and sharing her own mental health struggles here. And the help that she got, that it inspired so many of us to be more open about our struggles and help we’ve gotten and I think, being open and paying it forward, of sharing that it’s not all perfect at home, I think helps give other people the license, right to be vulnerable, and to ask for the help they need to. So definitely encourage that.

Right, so we’re at five, but we’re all willing to stay on a little longer for questions. And while we wait to see if any pop up, I’m gonna let everyone give like their top tip for lawyering and parenting at the same time. So let’s see, Allison, start with your top tip.

 

ALLISON: Top tip. Almost like what you said, when you’re lawyering do your lawyering when you’re parenting, do your parenting. And of course, parenting is a full time job. But have that space, where you can be fully focused on work when you’re working in the space where you know, when you’re parenting, you’re fully present with your family.

 

JESSICA: Tiffany.

 

TIFFANY: Yeah, so mine would be, you know, be gentle and kind with yourself. Give yourself grace. And something I never did when I was practicing, but do now is take a mental health day for yourself every so often. And we give so much to everybody else. But we got to fill our cup too. So that we can be, you know, in the best position to help everybody else. So those would be my tips.

 

JESSICA: Judge Tan.

 

JUDGE TAN: I’d say take vacation. And I it’s easier for me to say now after being on the bench for 10 years. In the beginning, it was not easy. I felt like oh my gosh, I have to stay here for all the spring breaks and everything. And you know, and then I realized, actually, it was better for the court, the court staff wanted me to take vacation, because if I took vacation, then they could take vacation too, because there weren’t, you know, cases scheduled. And so it sounds kind of flip. But I actually really think that, you know, one year actually lost vacation time. And so, you know, I’ve heard the same before, it’s like, you know, when you look back, right? You’re never going to say, Oh, I wish I would have worked those extra days, right, you’re going to now that I have a child out of the home, it just flies by so quickly, like you wouldn’t you know, for those of you have younger kids. And I heard a saying when I was in the hospital, after having my first child, a nurse said, you know, it’s long, what is it long days, but short years, and it truly is, it just goes by so quickly. And you know, your kids, I mean, you can’t ever sort of go back and replace those years. And so I would just say take that time and spend it with them.

 

JESSICA: Arivee.

 

ARIVEE: These are great tips, I would echo them all, I would also say, to have the courage to do it your own way. And so you’re hearing all of these tips and you’re hearing all of our perspectives and you’re gonna have your own perspective. And it’s important for you to lean into that and what feels right for you. And to have the courage to, you know, let’s shatter some like societal expectations and culture expectations of what women and mothers should be doing and how they spend their time. And let’s get rid of this idea that motherhood is martyrdom, like to Tiffany’s point, like you really do need to focus like focus on filling your cup first, you cannot pour from an empty cup. So have the courage to do that in a way that’s true for you. And that makes sense for you. And that to me means taking space for yourself every week. I do it once a day, 15 minutes, walk, journal do so do something for yourself to get out of your giving for others, right? So I say have the courage to try different things and see what works for you and know that what’s true for you will work for you. It may not be what we’ve done, but this these are just tips for you to experiment with.

 

JESSICA: Katie.

 

KATIE: Oh, gosh. Feels like I’m gonna start repeating people um, I guess yeah, my biggest thing I think that the thing the two things are really have saved me worthy. I think we actually Jess what you said which is I am religious about my work time, home time, which Sundays for me means I work less from home because I have a hard I struggle with maintaining the distinction if I’m home and working, so again know your limitations to a little bit to designate your time is the only way I’ve stayed sane with clients and with, you know, at work. And then, but again, the big thing for me has been super open and transparent with my employers and my colleagues, and asking for help and asking for advice. And kind of letting people kind of show me how much they’re actually willing to help me because that’s radically changed things. For me, those are the two big ones for me.

 

JESSICA: And then the question we have for you is that we have someone whose job hunting right now and pregnant, not showing was planning to pause for a few months. But did you have the discussions in the interview process? Or after you got an offer?

 

KATIE: Yeah, so it wasn’t, I guess I had, I didn’t have an offer yet. I will. So I had two potential people that I think we’re getting into, we had gone past a kind of a first round, I guess you’d say through kind of into the second round. So we’re still in the interview process, but not the final. But it was beyond the point of at least having an initial meeting to see if I liked kind of how they worked in the how their firm was headed. So I did get a chance to get a flavor for them first before I started kind of baring my soul. But I did have, you know, two potential places that were interested in kind of going forward with me. And, and that was kind of the point where I said, Well, before I do before they offer.

So what I did was say before you give me an offer, I just want to be very clear, but how this may impact my start time. And you know, whether I’d be able to kind of you know, do a little work beforehand or have to come back and that I will be taking X amount of time to leave. Like I think I was going to take those you know, 12 ish weeks. So to not much more than that, but I was gonna take it. So that’s what I did. And, and that helped a lot because I actually briefly worked, went on maternity leave, and then came back to the job. And that seemed to work. For what it’s worth. I mean, it’s it’s insanity. So not not something I want —

 

JESSICA: Yeah might not lead with it, like the door closed. Right? Like at least let them get to know you first.

 

KATIE: And yeah, it was nice. I think it helps you because it gives you a chance to sort of get a feel of even like you like like them, because you gotta get a little bit of that vibe. But the same time I think, I think I felt new to nervous going all the way to the offer stage because I didn’t want to have them say like, oh, by the way, we really need someone to be working, you know, 24/7 starting right away for the next six months. And I’m just kidding, I’m gonna disappear for like, a few months. I didn’t feel comfortable doing that. I don’t, I don’t know how like how someone would navigate elements. So I, I pushed the button and said something a little sooner than that.

 

JESSICA: On, I’ll give my tip quick. And then if anyone has any books or podcasts that we recommend on this issue, that’s the next question are on these issues and the topic. So my tip for everyone is kind of right sizing your week and setting yourself up for success. So for me, that means if I can control it, and I’m offering up times when I’m available for a call or whatever, and I know my kids are going to be there at some point, I will try to not even give that time, right? That’s like setting yourself up for success of I’m not going to offer it up because I know it’s gonna be super stressful. And I’m going to be trying to do two things at once. And will I do it because you have to be flexible in this job. If it’s necessary, yes, maybe with a warning to everyone that can be loud in the background. But I’ll set myself up for success by trying to not schedule calls until a little later than I’m hoping to start work, accounting for morning shenanigans, and then try to make sure they end before I know I’m going to have to start being responsible for my kids, right being with them.

So that’s kind of setting up trying to avoid the situations that are going to be really painful in the first place. And then also kind of looking ahead to do things like okay, there’s a day we both have something or we have plans in lining up the childcare and trying to plan ahead, you know, as much as as I can, or looking like I did this last week and say, oh, good Lord, I have so many things on the calendar, how am I doing that working and seeing my family like what can come off the calendar or get delayed. So those things of just trying to take few minutes beginning of the week or to put some thought into how you can make your week as work for you as best as possible.

So podcasts and books. I don’t have any like tons to go on, if you’re on anxiety or mental health and struggling that way that my former colleague, Wendy Robbins, who I mentioned has Perfectly Panicked podcast. That’s one out there if anybody has any other recommendations?

 

TIFFANY: I have one in the chat Yeah. So Work Parent Thrive is one that a lot of people love that’s really good. Doctor Becky’s Good Inside. Look, parenting is just about is just as much about your kid as it is about you and things that you need to work through and things you need to regulate in terms of your emotions, especially when you’re stressed. So I love her book. I love her podcast. 20 minutes. 15 minutes 30 minutes. I love that it’s quick hit and she’s very good. The Perfectionist’s —

 

JESSICA: Can they see them is my concern really? Amy, can everyone see what she put in the in the chat or the need to go.

 

AMY: Yeah, so nobody can see it. It’s just really for us.

 

JESSICA: Okay, so then with that in mind, say them all, sorry.

 

TIFFANY: Okay, so Work Parent Thrive. It’s just those three words by Yael Schonbrun which is YAEL SCHONBRUN. A lot of people love that one about how to do all of this and do it try to do it as best you can. Doctor Becky’s good inside. So Dr. Becky that’s her that’s her name. Good inside is the name of the book. And there’s also a podcast by the same name, so Good Inside.

And then there is this book I love the Perfectionist’s Guide to Losing Control. by Katherine Schafler. SCHAFLER, what I love about her approach is that she’s saying that perfectionism can be your strength, as long as it’s not as long as it’s not maladaptive. So as long as you’re using it in a way to, to make positive changes in your life, and to make it work, make your life work the way that you truly need to make it work, that it’s actually a strength. And so the book is really getting at look, you always need to be in control that’s maladaptive. Like you need to let go a little bit and to be more flexible. And you go through how women do that. And what I also love about her book, is her book is based on interviews of senior executives, lawyers, lawyers in New York City, and executives at financial firms. So she is talking to women in fast paced environments. And this is a result of all of her research. So it’s really cool. And you can take this quiz on what kind of perfectionist are you? It’s really cool. So I recommend that book. It’s actually a fun read to like, very interesting, but also fun. And then Untamed by Glennon Doyle, just for the first 80 pages, you will be you will feel some fuel inside of you, you will be like motivated to do whatever it is that is best for you without making excuses or trying to justify it to anybody else. That book is really great for just women to really step into who they are, live and unapologetically. And again, be aware of all these expectations that can trap us. And that can make us feel like we don’t have choices when we actually do. I love those are some great places to start. I would say.

 

JESSICA: Thank you. So I didn’t realize we have some questions in the comments, which I think I’ve jotted down. One of the comments, because if ever we can’t see it also recommended After Bedtime with Big Little Feelings podcast, throwing that out there. So what the first question is, if anyone has any advice about setting the boundaries, when you’re a more junior attorney and having those be respected.

 

KATIE: I can quick so I mean, you know, it’s hard, I will say the biggest thing is, I’m very vocal and open and like an honest about the fact that I’m like, Oh, by the way, I have a two year old at home, you know how it is, I talk about a little bit of my personal life to kind of maybe a start as an introduction, because I to be honest, so where I’m working right now, I’ve only been there one year. So I am the most junior member, I only recently started, my son was, you know, just at about a year when I started. So obviously I’m in the thick of all this experience. And I have to say for me, I kind of started lightly. I mean, I had also I think during the interview process and a little bit kind of also made it clear. And I just was very open and honest about the fact that and I know this can’t be for everyone. So I feel bad make pushing it like it’s like the easy solution. But I’m very clear about like, oh, I have a son yes to do this. And yes, like, by the way I was out and oh my god, we’re having such a day with daycare, I just throw a little personal details out there. So it just, it’s like a little reminder for them to that, you know, I’m in the middle of things. A lot of them are like, Oh my god, I remember those days what a nightmare is everything. Okay, you know, and just sort of putting myself out there a little bit, which I know is a lot to ask people.

But the little stories like it seems so silly to kind of talk about the fact that you’re a mom, but it sometimes helps because I think it just reminds them of like who you are. And then if you can get to the point where you feel maybe a little bit of rapport with your boss, or maybe just a dress a period of learning how large your firm is. You know, you can mention like, by the way daycare is like this and this and this, is what my husband’s due for schedule. You can literally let them know what your schedule is.

And it’s little things like that if you can do your comfort level but if you can start to just make yourself make it real what you’re doing on a daily basis and don’t close off, like, I know what you want to be personal, I’m sure you want to be private, but there’s certain things I recommend sharing, because they’ve really helped me to be honest, but effective, like, oh, yeah, my husband’s doing drop offs in the morning. So that helps a ton. You know, but sometimes, you know, we get those early releases, and then you know, I’m running out of the office. So this hour like, I don’t know why we like all these parents in all these, like, special PD’s they’re doing every month, you know, and it’s like, I just I tried to be sort of, kind of throw myself out there and just do it, and it helps and but you know, I’ve got, but I will admit, I do have a great boss and a great team. And working with that helps a little bit. But, you know, little ways of putting yourself in there.

 

TIFFANY: And echo that too, you know, having been in junior positions, like talking about it being open, like, they’re not going to know what’s going on, if you don’t share, you know, what’s going on at home. But it is hard to set boundaries. And that was very hard for me, I was able to work till seven, eight o’clock at night before I had a kid. But then I couldn’t anymore. And it was hard for me to set those boundaries. And so I think that lends itself to like giving yourself some grace. But you know, I would tell you, you gotta set them because I didn’t. And it was rough. But yes, it’s not easy. And you know, you’re not alone.

 

JESSICA: Yeah, I mean, I had my first two kids as an associate, and then my third son as a partner. And I was not great at setting boundaries before I had kids. So this was a bit of an adjustment for everyone that I now had them because you have to, I mean, you just like someone they need you to eat, right, you have to feed them. I mean, there’s just certain things that you have to do. And so I think communication is great. I give people the advice of it’s not really anyone’s business, what you have to do. So if you don’t feel comfortable telling them I steal advice I got from someone here, it’s you have a meeting, you have a conflict, it’s not their business. But I try to model and I’ll tell the people I’m working with, I’m dealing with my I have to go be with my kids, so that they know it’s okay to communicate. So if you aren’t comfortable, I do think communicating helps.

I think setting, communicating things that are you know, I’m not available at this time, but I can be available at this time. So it’s not just to I’m not available, you’re offering a solution as well, to for me, people who work with me tend to know, I go offline, and I go have dinner with my kids, I help with homework, I get them to bed, but I go back online, they go to bed pretty early, you know, I’ll work afterwards. And so, you know, it’s I’m not going to really be checking email for these couple of hours, if it’s an emergency, or if I’m expecting something I might, but if it’s emergency, you can call me. But otherwise, I’m not gonna be checking it. But I’ll be back online later. So you know, or even if you don’t have kids, I have an associate I work with who’s not a night person. I am. But I know she’s not. But she gets up super early. And so you know, I’ll send something mean, like, this does not need to be done tonight. I know she’ll do it in the morning, right? Or when. So even without kids, you have to set your boundaries. But the the way, if you can communicate them in a way that offers some flexibility or solution, I think that goes a long way.

Another question that we have is someone adjusting from going to one to two kids and how you can still be present and giving attention to both of them when there’s now more than one and your work responsibilities, hopefully I’m paraphrasing that well.

 

TIFFANY: That’s a lot. I just sympathize. Because it is hard.

 

ARIVEE: Especially when you have like I have eight, six and then two. So the two year old requires a very different type of energy than the eight and the six year old. Right. But I will say that one I agree with you 100%. That it’s it’s really hard to transition to for anyone zero to one, one to two, two to three. And for Tiffany like to twins, like I mean twins. And then that’s like that’s a massive transition. What I would say is, this is what I do, as all I can offer is what I do and it has worked. And I believe I got this tip, either some Dr. Becky or some other book I read, it was make sure that you fill your child’s bucket. You just you and that child alone once once a day. So that doesn’t mean 30 minutes, it could mean right before bedtime, you do five to 10 minutes of just you and that child and maybe it’s that it’s always you reading a book to them or maybe it’s you saying hey, you have 10 minutes of my time. What do you want to do and you agree to do whatever they want, except you have boundaries like, Don’t make me anything gross. Like you can do that too.

But having them have control over 10 minutes of your time and you being solely focused there each day. That has helped with my eight year old and my six year old material that like you don’t need that yet. So she’s, she’s a she is a 1,000% neglected. She’s 2, not physically, we take care of her. But like in terms of attention, she’s sorry, she gets the shaft right now. But I’m very focused on the aid of that six year old and I really do focus on what do they like to do? And I’m like, oh, did you see the new Mario Brothers, you know, like, I just tried to engage them just one on one, because I think it’s quality over quantity for them.

And because I, I will never forget, I was working such crazy hours at some point in my career, that I ended up burning out and having anxiety, depression, it was very, very bad. And I remember when I decided to take a leave of absence. The next day, I was putting my daughter to bed, and I would sometimes take my laptop to her room with me, so that I could do work as she fell asleep. And she asked me after I was on leave, and not right now, but I was then. And she’s she asked me, mommy, aren’t you going to take your laptop? And I say, No, I’m not taking my laptop anymore. Like that was I had not been doing boundaries at all. It was very, I was not I was teaching people about them, but I wasn’t doing it. And I lost it.

So I would just say that focusing quality time with each child can actually make your relationship really strong. And it’s less stressful and thinking about you spending so much time with each of them. And is this time good enough? And am I being a good enough Mom, you’re giving them 10 minutes of like undivided attention, that’s gonna be enough for them each day to fill their bucket and yours.

 

JESSICA: If daily is overwhelming, like we kind of do that on a longer term scale. Like one of my, my oldest son likes to watch the masked singer and he gets to stay up later. That’s our thing. Once a week for one hour, we watch the Masked Singer. I think that’s great. And then I have another son who’s really good eater, and the other two are terrible eaters. So now we’re going out to restaurants every now and then, you know, maybe it’s gonna be once a month and we go try a new restaurant together. So even if it’s not, yeah, daily, I think they really appreciate that special one on one time with them.

 

ARIVEE: Yeah, I do dates with my kids too like my daughter, I’ll do like, Okay, where do you want to go and day and the rule is we don’t go to a toy store. That’s you don’t get anything like physical. Yeah, no, I know, my husband would give them candy. I’m the one who doesn’t do that. But yes, like you got to try a date. And it doesn’t have to be five hours, it could be like one hour or 30 minutes. It could be to the playground like keep it try to keep it simple.

 

AMY: If I could just I’m gonna jump in. And I just want you to read a few of the comments. I know the audience can’t see it. But lots of people are just appreciating everything that you’ve been saying and doing. Also, somebody said to Gloria, to save that text from your daughter. Great insights all around. Thank you. I appreciate it. Amazing women. Thank you all for your voices and sharing your struggles and victories. Let’s see.

And then also somebody asked any thoughts on Emily Osters’ books? Have any of you read them? If so, what did you think they were recommended? And she’s curious, or that person is curious if any of you have read them.

 

TIFFANY: I read one of her books. I’m blanking on what the name was. I thought it was interesting, interesting views on it was like a pregnancy book. So like, she did a lot of research of you know, is it okay to drink while you’re pregnant? Or eat lunch meat? So I just I had remembered reading it. I don’t know that it was super impactful for me personally.

 

ARIVEE: I’ve read Expecting Better. Okay, that’s the name of it. Yeah, that’s I think that’s yeah, that’s the one I read too, she, like Tiffany said she does a lot of research to debunk certain myths and to debunk certain assumptions that we have or certain things that have been told to us like yeah, you can’t drink, no caffeine, don’t have raw fish like she’s talking about I think on a deeper level all of the ways that we’re we’re we are we’re conditioned to be scared of things and we’re conditioned to go above and beyond for like this pregnancy and maybe it’s not that deep and maybe the resources and support our fears. So she made she her point to me is that like do your own research and make your own decisions that are best for you. Did I find the book like earth shattering great worthy of a read? Probably not. But I read it because I had read the other book that’s like the the famous pregnancy book and I was like, This is crazy. Like this is too much fear. So I read her book. It was a nice counterbalance, but I don’t know if I would recommend that as something to read. That’s just me though.

 

AMY: A couple of other comments. So helpful. Thank you for the wonderful advice. Thank you so much this, this has been so refreshing. I’m a mom of a six year old and a four month old. And I don’t see, Jess do you see any other questions or comments?

 

JESSICA: Think we got all of them. Yeah, thank you.

 

JUDGE TAN: Can I just end on one thing, if we’re going to end, if that’s okay, with everyone, just along the lines of sort of, we’ve been talking so much about guilt and the challenges of being a working parent and all of that. And, you know, along the lines of, I think of what my kids the feedback they gave me, which, you know, I’m glad I was on this panel, because it gave me a chance to actually have that dialogue from them and get the positive feedback, which was nice for me personally, as a mom, but I was at my 25th year law school reunion over the weekend. And I was sitting next to a classmate, and he has younger kids. I think like maybe 10, and eight, and his wife works as well. And we were talking about the challenges you write about parenting, as working parents. And, you know, he said that his mom, who also went to law school, but didn’t end up practicing law was a writing for a newspaper, that she was a working parent throughout his and his two brothers, you know, childhood, and that he felt like, you know, he actually, it was a really positive impact on him. He said, because he saw, and he and he feels the same way about his daughters having his wife, you know, that being that role model for his daughters. And he said, you know, his mom would come home and talk about the work that she did, and, you know, interesting ideas and people she heard from, and, you know, it really sparked an interest in in him and his brothers. And in fact, all three of them ended up going to law school and are lawyers, for better or for worse, I guess.

But, you know, and, and so, I just think that that also was just a reaffirmation, I think, right of sort of the positives, because we spend a lot of time with a lot of hand wringing, which is, which is real, right, that’s what you know, we face every day, just getting through the day, and who’s going to do pick up and, you know, sick kids and all that, but I think if we’re able to step back, every now and then, you know, when in between sort of, you know, speeding home and getting, you know, try not to be late to various different things, that I think that there are a lot of benefits to, for our kids, for seeing their parents and, and their mothers work and be, you know, positive role models and show them that, you know, that, that they can be you know, there can be successful women and parents and inspiring them.

 

AMY: A wonderful note to end on. Thank you. So I wanted to thank all of our panelists, this was truly an amazing conversation. And there were so many takeaways. And by the way, Allison, I really liked that FaceTime tip that was really interesting. I was like, What a unique idea. But thank you again, I know everybody has been so busy, but I from the comments, I think people really enjoyed it. I also just want to let people know that LCL, we do offer what’s called a SuperMom group. And there it’s similar where you can all come together and talk about some practical tips. Talk about the emotional side, the stressor side of things. And it’s once a month, it’s free. So you can go to our website and sign up for that. It is virtual. And thank you again, everybody. It was really truly a terrific conversation. And I’m sure a lot of people take quite a bit out of this. Everybody, all right. Take care. Thank you.

 

RELATED RESOURCES:

Scheduling an Appointment | Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers MA (lclma.org)

SuperMom – Free & Confidential Group from LCLMA & WBA Parents’ Forum

Wendy Robbins’ Perfectly Panicked Podcast

Work Parent Thrive by Yael Schonbrun

Good Inside Book & Podcast by Dr. Becky

Perfectionist’s Guide to Losing Control by Katherine Schafler

Untamed by Glennon Doyle

After Bedtime with Big Little Feelings Podcast

Expecting Better by Emily Oster

 

CATEGORIES: Flourishing | Work-Life Balance
TAGS: caregiving | quality of life

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