By Katherine Larkin-Wong • February 26, 2018•Careers, Other Career Issues, Issues, Balancing Private and Professional Life, Features, Guest Bloggers and Profiles of Women in the Law
Shortly after I launched #MillennialMom on Ms. JD last month, I got a DM on Twitter (you can follow me @kmlarkinwong). "Did you know that THREE of the ABA Law Student Division's Leaders are Moms? I think this is column-worthy!" You know what, I agree! So I reached out to the #MillennialMoms who are leading the lawyers of the future and asked them a few questions about being law students, leaders, and Moms. Two of them were able to be interviewed between school and Mom Life!
First, a bit of biographical information:
Name: Meredith Parnell ("MP")
Law school: Harvard Law School
Kids’ ages: 10 months, 3 years
Position in ABA LSD: Law student member-at-large on the ABA Board of Governors
Do you social? Where can people connect with you? https://www.linkedin.com/in/g-meredith-parnell-5060168/
And the most important ... red or white? (Wine, of course!): white
Name: Alissa Koenig ("AK")
Law school: New England Law | Boston
Kids’ ages: 17, 14, and 2
Position in ABA LSD: Delegate of Programming
Do you social? No.
And the most important ... red or white? (Wine, of course!): White
What’s the best thing about being a Mom in law school?
AK: I have the best distractions ever! My kids give me the breaks I need from studying and being overly focused. They help me maintain balance in life.
MP: The best thing about being a mom in law school is the perspective that comes with it. Compared to my peers without kids, I'm just less stressed about school. Being a mom also makes me much more efficient. I do law school from 9 to 5, then I parent, and then I wrap up if I need to after my kids' bedtime.
Biggest challenge? MP: Lack. Of. Sleep.
AK: The biggest challenge is not being there for everything. I get hard on myself and have to be reminded that I’m not a bad mom if I miss a band competition or a gymnastics practice. I also am not good at asking for help, but law school has taught me humility in that area. LOL!
So many law students struggle to balance class work with other commitments. You’re parents, students, AND leaders in the ABA. What’s your best #lifehack for making it all happen?
AK: For me, I think the busier I am, the better I am able to make everything happen. I don’t have time to waste time. A good day planner and significant other helps immensely, too.
MP: Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good enough. Just keep moving and only do one thing at a time.
Do you think #MillennialMoms are different than past generations? Do we face different challenges? If so, how?
MP: I assume that raising kids has always been hard, but I do think our generation has different challenges. One challenge for me is to rip the iphone out of the strong hands of my three-year-old, and more generally - to regulate her access to screens. I also think smart phones and watches make it harder for us as parents to be present with out kids at all times.
AK: I think there is so much more pressure on millennial moms than past generations. Social media is constantly shaming moms for vaccinating, or not vaccinating, not putting kids in sports, or putting them in sports that are too aggressive, what bedtimes should be, etc. It is constant judgment. Past generations didn’t have to deal with the flow of parenting “advice” offered on a daily basis through social media. Moms are able to hide behind the keyboard to offer their “two cents” on things they would never have said face-to-face. It’s harsh and can make any great mom feel like she is doing something wrong. We also have to face challenges of keeping up with new social media apps, cell phone use, and other technology that our kids seem to learn before we do. Just when I think I have my kids’ social media secrets figured out, the apps change the game to make things easier to hide or allow anonymous comments. It’s rough.
Bonus: why should law students (moms or not!) get involved in the ABA Law Student Division?
MP: The LSD is a great way to work on policy issues that impact all law students, meet great people, and get real leadership experience.
AK: It’s so much fun! I love the network of professionals and friends the ABA has helped me build. It’s also been fun working on ABA policy and helping shape the future of the profession.
Extra Credit: What’s one thing you want to say in this interview that I haven’t asked you?
AK: Being a law school mom is hard, I’m not going to lie, but I feel it is also preparing me for being a mom lawyer and I’m hoping it will make the transition into my career easier. I am learning to master work/life balance early on.