All Perks Are Not Equal

What job perks are the most important to you? Which ones would keep you at a job you were thinking about leaving? Does gender factor into the equation?

These are interesting questions, and they have been addressed recently in a survey. Although the survey was not particular to lawyers, the results are consistent with what you might expect to hear from those in the law profession.

According to the survey, flexibility is the most important job perk for women with children. It includes flexible hours, remote working, and commuter benefits, and everyone seems to want it. Especially women but also single employees. 

I certainly understand why women with childcare and family responsibilities are so interested in flexibility, but I must admit that I am not quite so sure why flexibility appeals so much to single employees. However, I expect that it is a reflection of other responsibilities in their lives and the need to balance those responsibilities and interests with time on the job. 

The survey results indicate that the major must-have perks are flexible hours (40.2%), paid insurance premiums (33.6%) and paid family leave (29.2%). Other important perks include the ability to regularly work remotely, discounts, and reimbursement for gym memberships. 

Check out the article and figure out where you stand on these issues. Knowing your priorities will help you to become an effective self advocate and find a satisfactory and satisfying balance between personal and professional responsibilities. 

Good luck!

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Thought For The Week

You must be the change you wish to see in the world. Mahatma Gandhi

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Why Titles Can Be Important for Women Professionals

The New Year is here.  We are hoping for improvements to our society in 2021 and beyond to include herd immunity to COVID-19, a recovered economy and an upward surge of decency and respect for those on the other side of the many debates raging throughout our country today.  One such debate from the closing days of 2020 got my attention. 

Who is allowed to use the moniker “doctor” was raised as an issue recently.  MDs are those we most often refer to as doctors, and the American Medical Association (AMA) has made sure we don’t get confused about that.  Having an MD behind a name traditionally has met with respect and deference.  For centuries, the AMA has limited the number of MDs in America, and it has worked out pretty well for them.

Not everyone who is a “doctor” is a medical type, however, and not everyone accepts the right of others to call themselves “doctor.”

However, lawyers, with their Juris Doctorate degrees, seem to have escaped criticism.  Juris Doctorate appears on all of our law school diplomas, which has been accepted as license to assume the moniker “doctor” without further explanation or additional proof of gravitas.  And we do just that.  We just shorten it to JD, spread it around liberally, and it passes without objection. 

But there are others, who have earned doctorate degrees among us, and their right to use the label “doctor” has come under attack.  For example, PhDs are doctors, Doctors of Philosophy. Somehow the letters got reversed, and instead of DPHs, they are PhDs.  It is easier to say and sounds a lot better.  The years of post graduate studies for doctorate degrees are similar to those of lawyers, and, in my experience, PhDs referring to themselves as “doctors” has never seemed to be an issue worth talking about.  There appeared to be room under the big doctor tent for all of us.

However, an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal recently, attacking President-Elect Biden’s wife, Jill Biden, who holds a doctorate in Education (an EdH), for using the title “doctor,” has made it an issue. That complaint piece, calling into question the future First Lady’s right to refer to herself as “doctor,” has spurred a debate that is unfortunate and belies the facts.  For an effective take down of this column, see the LA Times article laying out the facts about the the WSJ writer and the negative responses his column has elicited.

Ironically, as it turn out, “doctor” historically has meant “teacher,” which is very appropriate for an EdH in Education like Dr. Jill Biden, if that is what she desires.  And apparently she does desire it because her response to the attack makes it very clear that she takes pride in the level of her education and the work that she does on behalf of others similarly seeking higher education. 

Dr. Jill Biden’s pride in her accomplishments and dedication to her work were on display during the Obama administration when she was so devoted to her role as educator that she continued to teach during the eight years that her husband was vice president.  She taught at the Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC) located outside of Washington, DC, and while she was there she was referred to only as “Dr. Jill.”  It seems that it was less important to her to be recognized as the Second Lady of the nation than it was to be recognized for her own education and her role in the educations of others.

It has been reported that, at one time during those years at NVCC, a student saw a picture of Dr. Jill with First Lady Michelle Obama and asked Dr. Jill whether she knew Mrs. Obama.  Dr. Jill’s response was not reported, however, and I think that is because it did not matter to her.  What mattered, I think, was that the student felt comfortable enough with Dr. Jill to approach her and ask the question.

All of this matters a lot to someone like me, who has devoted decades to advancing women in their chosen fields, particularly the law.  And it occurs to me that the salient question is this:  If it had been a male Ph.D referring to himself as “doctor” would anyone have cared enough to pen a snarky opinion piece and would an editorial staff of a major newspaper have published it?  I think not.

Rather, it appears that this is just a thinly veiled way for a man to discredit the accomplishments of a woman.   It is just another way for a man to keep a woman from rising to a level that makes him uncomfortable because he thinks that kind of recognition should be reserved for the powerful and privileged males in our society.  It is just another way for a man to make sure as few women as possible break through glass ceilings.

A moment like this may not present itself in quite the same way again.  We are not likely to see, at least for some time into the future, a woman, who values her accomplishments and work as an educator so much that she refuses to stop calling herself “doctor” for the privilege of calling herself “First Lady.” 

And why is that?  I expect that it has something to do with the fact that Jill Biden’s accomplishments and receipt of a doctorate degree are hers.  Her accomplishments.  Not someone else’s.  Not something she inherited from others or that was conferred on her through marriage.  Hers and hers alone.

Hear, hear.

 

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Welcome 2021!

Below is an excerpt from the November/December BFAB Newsletter published just in time to say goodbye to 2020. The newsletter publishes bi-monthly, and you can receive it by signing up on the website or e-mailing me at [email protected] You will be joining more than 800 lawyers and law firms that receive the newsletters and rely on it for updates on news about millennial and women lawyers.

As we bid an enthusiastic farewell to 2020 and look forward to the new year, the challenges of 2020 have focused my thoughts on the importance of empathy and caring for the less fortunate among us and our roles as lawyers in facing those challenges. We have seen healthcare and public safety professionals step up to offer comfort and protection to at risk populations during COVID-19, and those examples should provide incentives for all lawyers to be exemplary professionals, as well.

The opportunities for public service are replete. This year has been plagued by a breakdown in race relations and a public outcry to right the wrongs created by the lack of respect and tolerance in our society. As lawyers, we are uniquely positioned to respond to inequalities and injustices, and we should renew our commitments to pro bono representation, increase our participation in bar association programs to develop young lawyers to serve the public, and volunteer in law school clinical programs to show our dedication to the values underlying our profession.

We never should be satisfied to have profits alone define our success.

Happy New Year! I send you all best wishes, and I hope you will achieve your dreams and expectations this year in a COVID-free society. Until we reach that goal, please be safe, be protected and wear a mask. That combination will project you forward to a future that is informed by the past, lived in the moment, and hopeful for the future.

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Thought For The Week

Learn from yesterday, live for today and hope for tomorrow. Albert Einstein

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Happy Holidays

This is my last blog of 2020 before I take a deep dive into holiday food preparations and gift wrapping. I will miss my family members who cannot be with us this year, and I will shed a few tears. (I always do, even in the best of years.) I am sure you understand and know that this year will be different for all of us. But I also hope that we all will work hard to experience some merriment.

Some of you will find yourself alone and falling down a bit on the “merry” part, and I am thinking of you. Please know that, in my eyes, you are the most merry. Your merriment shows in your isolation, your social distancing, your masks and your sacrifices. You are showing your love each and every day. You are to be admired and cherished.

So, what are you waiting for? Eat tons of chocolate, paint your nails glittery blue, maximize on beach reads, and watch your favorite holiday rom com. You have been responsible enough. Now pamper yourself and be a bit trivial. You are so deserving.

And don’t forget to reach out to all those who mean so much to you. Make those calls, write those e-mails and texts, be present on social media if that is your thing, and go out on your balcony and wave to your neighbor. What you will get in return is messages of love and caring, just what you need right now.

Be happy, be safe, be well and be hopeful. And I will see you in the new year.

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My New Column for the ABA Journal

My holiday wishes for women lawyers. Hope you enjoy the piece.

https://www.abajournal.com/columns/article/my-holiday-wishes-for-women-lawyers/
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Thought For The Week

“Blessed be the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.” Hamilton Wright Mabie

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