Thursday, December 1, 2011

Life for the BigLaw Mommy

What's life like for the BigLaw mommy?

I finally had the chance to find out, four years after passing the bar.

I lucked out. Landed myself a sweet gig at a top tier firm.

Truth be told, it's not easy. While partners claim to be sympathetic to the plight of a mommy lawyer, a look around the firm gave me a clear idea of where mommy lawyers really stood.

Here's a tip-- the most successful female lawyer at the firm was not a mommy, at the age of 60. Married, yes. Mommy, no.

The mommy track exists at the big law firms but as any smart mentor will tell you, the mommy brand can taint you. Not always, but it can.

I don't know if anyone comes out and says overtly that your chances of success are threatened by being a mommy lawyer, but it's certainly the elephant in the room at many large law firms.

I didn't have much problem, but then again, I was not a salaried associate. I came on board as an hourly associate. Interestingly, the young male lawyer who started at the same time as me came on board as a full time associate.


And let's not forget the added responsibilities that come your way as a mommy. While the daddy was on board helping and holding down the fort with the little ones, the little tykes still want mommy and still miss mommy when she's out. So I had to kiss bye-bye to the 8 p.m. work nights out, as well as the after-work happy hours and the networking events.

Being a mom and working at a top tier firm is certainly doable. But it's not easy.

If you choose to take this path, then make sure you enlist all the help you can get. Call on family to help. Make sure your spouse is on board. And if you must, dish out top-dollar and hire a very good caregiver or housekeeper.

While some women luck out with fabulous work-life balance situations, many parents have to make some difficult decisions.