Cutting Back to Be with Kids=Ending Career?

 I wanted to ask your opinion on a career-related matter. I am a woman attorney, working at a medium-size general practice firm for the past six years. Ever since the birth of my second child, I find that I want to be at home more. Although I really do like practicing law, I feel a lot of anguish about missing out on so much home life with my kids. I am thinking about cutting back to a half-time position, but my colleagues think it would end my career. Do you agree?

You are in an exceedingly difficult situation, faced by many parent-attorneys of both genders. There are no easy or right answers. However, LCL does have an opinion and it is that you not face this decision alone, especially as the consequences can be far reaching.

For this reason, we recommend networking (formally or informally) with others who have been in the same position. Even if you can’t spare much time, a few phone conversations with other attorney moms can make an enormous difference. You might start by calling parenting attorneys (especially women, who are often at a further disadvantage because of their gender) already in your circle, or whom you know by proxy. Ask how they have managed, and for any recommendations that they may have. Ask, too, about regrets, or mistakes that they believe they have made. Overall, you will probably find that parenting attorneys are quite receptive to sharing their work/family experiences with others in the same boat.

To network more formally, the Mass Bar Association (617/338-0500) is an invaluable resource, offering a mentor program specifically for parent-attorneys, and home to a “Family and Work” subcommittee. You can also make new contacts through the Women’s Bar Association (617/695-1851), which is “committed to the full and equal participation of women in the legal profession and in a just society…” The WBA’s membership is composed of almost entirely women, many (if not most) of whom will be mothers at some point.

The optimal work-family balance varies from person to person. A process of sorting things out with supportive others who understand the dilemma at hand can facilitate your finding a balance that affords you relative peace of mind.

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