How Does She Do It?

Some times I am sure that you think I am a broken record.  Work-life struggle, work-life challenge, work-life issues…………..  Well, I agree about the repetition, but the subject of work-life does happen to be the biggest impediment to women in the law, and you need to know as much about it as possible.

Last week I attended a program sponsored by the DC Women’s Bar Association at Jenner & Block in its Washington, DC office.  Hat’s off to the DCWBA—where I have been a proud member for 30 years—and to Jenner & Block for the wonderful programs and dedicated folks that bring these programs to us.  This particular program was titled—you guessed it—“How Does She Do It?” and was part of the Working Parents Forum. The panelists were:  Anastasia Kelly, of DLA Piper and formerly General Counsel of huge corporate entities; Lorettta King, former Deputy Assistant Attorney General, US DOJ, Civil Rights Division; and Jessie Liu, partner at Jenner and Block specializing in white collar crime and enforcement.  They all were terrific resources and very candid and entertaining in their remarks.

Here are some of the nuggets they shared:

“You get to do what you gotta do when the time is right for you to do it.”

“It is not just about work-life balance; it is a part of the larger balance that you experience in life.”

“In-house counsel jobs are not always more family friendly than others.  It depends on the tone that is set at the top.  The balance can actually be harder because face time is really important in a smaller legal setting and that makes telecommuting more difficult.”

“The same can be said for government legal jobs.  The amount of flexibility varies according to department and division.  It all depends on the managers.”

“The biggest challenge for women lawyers today is how to work fewer hours a week and still keep a career going.  The flexibility needs to be not just in terms of place (like the telecommuting option) but also in terms of time.  Although technology is helping us make strides, it is still a major challenge.  A lot of the hurdles have to do with perceived levels of commitment.  We must change that.”

“Making our own choices—ones that work for us and for our families—takes confidence and courage—-AND thick skin.  There will always be detractors.”

“Good personal choices start with a determination of what you can cut out of your schedule—things that do not make a huge difference in the quality of your life and the lives of family members.   Is it being a room mother or school volunteer, pleasure reading, getting a manicure or something else?  Don’t always scratch the manicure.  Pampering yourself has a place.  You must take care of yourself so that you can take care of your family.”

I felt like there was an echo in the room!  All of this was very validating for what you will read in my new book that will be released this spring.  Stay tuned!




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