By T S • October 09, 2014
I feel that being an attorney and a mother is nothing that people would consider an easy job. Well, I guess some people would think it was easy. I remember a comment from a younger female student after my daughter was born. She naively said to me: “Oh it must be nice not having a job and going to school.” Did she think that somehow going to law school with a baby was easy? Well, anyhow, it wasn’t! Since then I have learned a lot about this, but I still struggle daily finding balance between motherhood and work. But yet, I simply would not trade this for anything. There are synergies from being a mom and an attorney and I’ll explain.
I started a practice of law after I had become a mother, so there's a literal connection with business and my own personal motherhood. And I feel that my law practice benefits from the skills and attributes that come from being a mom.
Yet, sometimes I think that there are others who do not take me as seriously because I choose often to put motherhood as my first priority because of the infinite value I place on my beautiful daughter. But just because I put being a mom first does not mean my business gets shortchanged. Often, this is the opposite.
If you are considering the journey of being an attorney while having children, here are some thoughts to keep in mind.
1. Come up with a plan. Expecting mothers plan for their baby’s arrival, and you also need to develop a strategy and plan for an inception of a law practice.
2. Choose to be cheap regarding personal niceties—such as choosing not to dine out. While you are building a practice, you may feel you need to starve, but that isn’t the case. You do, however need to budget or artificially impose “cheapskate” type limits on spending for things that are not necessities. By doing this, you will have the ability to live with less pressure on your income. The upside of this is that it is difficult often to go out to eat with children anyway.
3. Seek out a support network. Many mom attorneys work during the time their children sleep. Yet this is not so easy all the time. If you have the money to afford a nanny or a high school student to help you with your baby, you could get more focused time for getting work done in bursts. Additionally, having a family support network is especially helpful and if you can work out details such as scheduling between yours and your husband’s schedules this can be even doubly effective.
4. Ask other attorneys for help. A secret that is too well-kept is that there are multitudes of people who are willing to help young attorneys if you simply ask them. If you can seek out and find another attorney or other good folks including family who are local to you they will often be willing to help you in order for your success to come to fruition. Many attorneys love seeing other young attorneys thrive and their advice is simply priceless. Do you have an issue that is vexing you? Possibly you have been thrust into a situation where you simply do not know the proper way to respond to the problems of a client. Maybe you have questions about exemptions in a bankruptcy case, or whether a certain type of income must be included in the income and expenses schedules. A response from an experienced dallas bankruptcy attorney would quickly put such a question to rest. Even some of the most hardened competitors to you might be softened by a question that is tendered in humility and then is followed up with a heart felt and grateful thanks. Certainly, never forget to show your deep appreciation for such help. And remember that when it comes time to be the one to help, that you do not forget to return the favor to pass the gift of wisdom along to other young attorneys.
5. Find your legal passion. Starting a law practice is not easy. And no one said that parenting is easier either. Find a field of law in which you love taking part. By doing this, you will find the passion necessary to power through the difficult times.
6. And absolutely never apologize for being both a mom and a lawyer. Do not apologize, do not feel that you are less, and do not let your being a mother become an excuse for not being your best self in your law practice. By not apologizing and not seeking excuses for being a mother and practicing attorney, you will free yourself to realize that you can truly have the best of both worlds. You can seek and find it all.