It is true that women lawyers were among those who left the profession over the past two years because quality childcare was not available during the threat from COVID-19 when quality daycare centers and schools were closed. Although many legal commenters and legal consultant groups stressed very high attrition rates for women lawyers due to these circumstances, I was very pleased to see one the most reliable legal commenters, Vivia Chen of Bloomberg News, jump into the conversation recently to set the record straight.
In making her case against the oft-repeated narrative that, when push comes to shove, women bail out of their careers, Ms. Chen cites the most recent statistics supporting the conclusion that women remained in the workforce during the pandemic and stayed on their jobs, as much as they could and persevered. Reporting additional statistics showing that those in the most privileged positions were able to keep their careers going, Ms. Chen concluded that most female lawyers “stayed in the game.” They may have left large firms for a downsized version that afforded more flexibility or transitioned within the profession, but they did not leave in large numbers. They did not quit in high numbers as had been reported earlier. They did not run for cover. For more on this article, read it at https://news.bloomberglaw.com/business-and-practice/she-cession-myth-busted-women-didnt-quit-law-during-pandemic.
Indeed, there are challenges for women lawyers and male lawyers as well, especially those with young children. But young lawyers should not let their career planning be derailed by them. Young lawyers are smart and capable of protecting both their personal and professional goals, and the advent of programs like flexible hours, working from home, and changing law practice cultures are giving them the additional help they need.
It is all possible. Not easy. But possible.