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Advice from New York’s top women attorneys

New York Magazine recently reached out to some of the most successful women lawyers practicing in New York City to solicit their advice for younger lawyers. The verdict? “In a nutshell, you have to be prepared to work very hard for very long hours” and “unless you really love the work, it won’t be worth that very high cost.” Exploring “how hard is hard,” the article references one partner who was using her Blackberry during labor, another who took “literally no time off” after giving birth three times, and others who forfeit sleep to work “around the clock when the situation demands it.” Though for many, “a work ethic bordering on obsession isn’t worth the price,” the women interviewed for the article “say the key is that they love what they do.”

In addition, to hard work, flexibility also played a role in the featured women’s successes. Valerie Ford Jacob, “one of only a few women to head a major United States law firm,” was able to bring her kids to work (and not secretly—they were playing soccer int eh hallways!). Another attorney cited the importance of “giving permission to men and women so they don’t feel furtive about the demands of family life.”

Though utilizing flexibility to manage a career while raising kids is helpful, actually taking time off to raise children is harmful. One woman notes that “unfortunately, if you take a year off, it’s equivalent to taking two or three years because technology changes, the market changes, the law changes . . . If you are really committed to your career, I really believe taking time off is going to hurt you.”

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