BEING A LAWYER AND BEING A PARENT: CAN THE TWO BE COMBINED? GUIDANCE FROM OUR FRIENDS ON TWITTER, WELL HERE’S A START AT LEAST
For the next crowd-s0urced advice to the profession we are looking at the difficult combination of lawyerhood and parenthood. How do you combine the two. What practical advice can you offer to those who try to combine practice with parenthood. There are numerous additional contributions and I have added to the “general guidance” section.
- There is an article in the Atlantic Parents in Law: Is It Possible to Be Both an Attorney and a Committed Mom or Dad
- There is a book “The Working Mother’s Survival Guide” by Jill Black
- (For those who don’t know the author is now a Justice of the Supreme Court. I suspect if it was written now it would be called the Working Parent’s Survival Guide).
- Emma Dixon Flexible Working and the Bar
- Felicity Gerry: Bar -v- Family: how to win both.
GUIDANCE FROM TWITTER
Kids/family come first. Cases second.
Course they are so long as you drop the machismo BS about being a superhero lawyer and juggle like any other working parent. THAT said, trial lawyers are like submariners – out of touch & in the dark for periods of time then surfacing into the commotion of bright light & life.
Have 2 teens, eldest is infuriatingly good at arguing issues, younger sibling has the knack (skill?) of observing, then the killer put-down/last word. Wouldn’t change things, it makes dinner lively and great fun!
For lawyer parents: this is your best life. Seriously. Also, know that your children will mysteriously pick up how to structure an argument better than other kids, and then all you can do is award advocacy points and admit defeat.
Use the skills you gain from being a parent, compassion, patience, organisation, knowledge of social media applications (I am so down with the kids explaining Snapchat to a DJ) Don’t be ashamed of trying to do both, especially as a woman, I’ve been shamed for rocking up to court
Have children with someone who is willing to fully share the responsibility of parenting and supports your career. And a fantastic childminder who is willing to be flexible has been invaluable to me. I’d also say leave your phone at the door when you get home (I don’t)
Don’t be too hard on yourself as parent / lawyer. You will have good and bad days. For me, combining being a lawyer and mum means I have tapped into and grown a whole host of new skills and strengths with more patience and resilience that I didn’t know I was capable of
At ten to ten because my kid was sick and been accused of trying to ‘have it all’ I just embraced the chaos. Expect an antiquated profession to look down on me as a ‘working mum’ and change the narrative. Now my bairns are teens and come to court with me.
I am lucky and work for a firm that embraces flexibility. I get in early and leave early meaning I get back to spend a few hours with my son. If I didnt i would miss bedtime and only see him at weekends. Family is important so make time for them, work isnt everything.
Make sure other parent works locally! The amount of kids club drop offs and collections I cannot do is immense.
Also – teach your children to cook – my son’s first spag bol I texted instructions on train back from Court. Arrived home to very happy fed boy.
Always always appreciate your clerks/support staff. They are the furiously kicking legs to your gracious swan-like glide into court whenever family life takes its toll
Honest answer. You will have to make sacrifices. Either as a lawyer or as a parent or both. It’s up to you to decide what’s best. I spent 2 years trying to carry on like nothing had changed. Simply meant I wasn’t doing a proper job at home. 1/For the past year I’ve had to make a concerted effort to do a proper job at home. Inevitably that means saying no to certain trials. Not accepting super urgent/last minute drafting and not going to every meeting/chambers event. I’m poorer but happier. I can always earn more later
I second what
@StirredNtShaken said. It took me far too many years to reach the same conclusion. Also much happier as a result.
. Totally agree. You can have career and be a great parent but its hard to give both 100% all the time. It has been a tough guilt laden journey for me to realise that and be “ok” with it.
Bit late chiming in but couldn’t agree more. Have scaled things back, get to do school runs regularly and go to events. Weekends are no longer (just) for prep. Much better balance.
Managing motherhood & a demanding career is hard – juggling sports days, school plays with a busy diary & deadlines & rushing back to work as soon as my little one had finished his part – don’t feel guilty & be proud that you are a hardworking role model
I go back to work in a week after my first stint of parental leave, leaving my wife and month-old baby at home: I’m expecting it to be a bumpy ride!
Make sure the channels of communication with your co-parent are open and you can discuss well in advance where and when you’re likely to be available to help out with the kids. Make sure you have regular weekly prep days to try to avoid / minimise work at weekends.
I remember digging into my handbag to get tissues for a crying client and took out Peppa Pig. She did stop crying to be fair…
Kids also always seem to remember all the times you didn’t attend assembly or sports day but never the time you killed yourself to get from court back to pick them up from school
Agreed but then one of mine grew up – is now professional working mother – told me she now “gets it” – “thanks Mum. Don’t know how you did it”.
I worry about the big stuff but in the end they remember the small things you just do as an aside. Knock yourself out getting back from court to pick them up: they don’t remember. But they remember the biscuits you make on Saturday afternoons when you have 20 mins to spare 🙂
Teaching any household chores is important & early when they are keen! Very hard at the time but it’s about the long game. My kids (5-12) do washing, folding etc, make their own lunches & dinner (12yo), dishes, bins. If they can operate PlayStation they can work out a dishwasher!
My wife and I are both lawyers, we have two girls who will very soon be turning 4 and 2. My advice: don’t be apologetic about being a parent, or about making choices which are linked to being a parent…(1)
No different to being a bus driver and a parent or a nurse and a parent. This notion that a successful legal career and family can’t coexist is codswallop. Yes it’s hard work but it’s a matter of setting aside time for the kids and having a partner who respects career demands.
Kids =sublimely tolerant &aware of the demands and the upsides. My 10yo when I had to step away from something fun for a work call briefly, said when I said I was sorry that it was ok that the “fun stuff doesn’t pay for itself”. No harm for kids to know what pays for stuff.
I’m v nearly a lawyer (start traineeship in sept) having changed career and I currently work in a law centre, so hope I can contribute? It’s a bit trite but you only get one shot at parenting your kids, don’t get so lost in achieving career goals that you lose sight of that.. …combining parenting and work well requires a team effort, with a partner or without, map out your support network and who can help with what. Kids’ needs change as they get older but don’t assume teenagers don’t need you around too (even if they articulate the opposite!).
Bear in mind not everyone has that support, whether from a partner or anywhere else. We all do the best we can and that’s all any of us can. Good luck with the juggle and try to enjoy as much of it as you can!
It’s true. I was hesitating putting that in for that reason. I guess I am speaking from my own experience of trying to be independent and it nearly finishing me off.
Don’t scrimp on childcare, esp when the children are little. Get the best that you can afford so that when you’re in work you can focus on that. That and a supportive partner and network – everyone is muddling through!!
Honestly? I struggled. I don’t profess to have any answers but work will always be there but kids grow up and time flies. Make the most of it. I’ve still a lot to learn. And still being told off for using my phone at the table answering work emails
Well, the guilt of work first, can if you let it, carry on when a grand parent.
Meaning : work means being able to pay for nice things! Fine! But children like simple things with their parents , grandparents . Like just doing things!
Example : my eldest grandchild, loved coming shopping with me, for his great gran, my mum. He was in charge of what went in the trolley. And when at her house, me putting stuff away, he would relate to her what we had got. He and mum loved it. A win win in the same hour.
As with everything, there are good days and bad. A lot depends on the support you have and flexibility of your employer. It can be difficult when little ones don’t understand, the parent guilt is real!