By Christine Connolly LeBlanc • May 11, 2015•Writers in Residence
Being a mom makes you a better lawyer. Somewhere between being spit up on by a newborn to having words spat at you by a teenager you realize your motherly aptitudes have enhanced and honed your lawyering skills.
Mommy, Esquire traits and tactics to embrace and celebrate:
Because I Told You So. Yup, your mother said it to you and now you find yourself saying it to your kids. So basic, so final, so absolute. No willy nilly, no gray. But really, often times in parenting there is no better answer than this…and then you realize often times in lawyering this too is the best answer. Keep it basic, keep it simple, and tell the court it is what it is – because you say it is. Win the case, win the argument with your toddler. A true win win.
Pick your battles. Really, do you want to fight the toddler to have them put on a matching outfit? No, let them leave the house with a striped orange and blue t-shirt, covered by a pink print luau skirt, and batman cape. But perhaps try to get them to brush their teeth, well at least most of the time. In court you start to see the battles worth fighting, the motions worth filing, and the arguments best left untouched in order to advance the interests of your client. You see the bigger picture, understand the right fight to fight, and of course acutely realize this means making the kids eat their veggies.
Prolific Reader. Your skills at reading dramatically improve. You can easily shift from reading a detailed brief to using correct inflection while eloquently reciting Dr. Suess. Funny enough, you begin to build closing arguments around ingenious Dr. Suess observations. You say what you mean and you mean what you say, hoping at the end of the day the court will see it your way. In the end, words have meaning to the opposing counsel or your nine-year-old.
Quid Pro Quo. It takes on a whole new meaning. Never did you imagine that you would offer your elementary school child ice cream if they play in the game and show good sportsmanship. Or perhaps monies termed as an “allowance” to clean a room they occupy in your house with stuff you purchased for them…it doesn’t sound like any landlord tenant agreements you remember from law school, but yet you happily find yourself forking over the dollars for the clean room. You emerge with newfound sympathy for your landlord client (or opponent!) for breach of an implied contract.
All Terms are Negotiable. You fondly remember the days before motherhood when you smugly judged other mothers. You would never let your child sleep in your bed. You would never dream of not allowing your child in your bed: co-sleeping is the only answer. You will not allow your child to consume and processed foods or excess sugar. You will make sure your child never stays up past 7:30 pm. Their hair will always be brushed. Clothes always clean. Manners always impeccable. As the years wear on, your resolve wears down. You realize, that raising children is like most contracts. All terms are negotiable.
Law School. You painfully remember why you went to law school. Your 3rd grader brings home the math book and you crumble. Literally. It appears to be simple addition embedded in a lengthy word problem involving different fruits and Sally and Bob buying them. But when you start helping your child, you are quickly told you are doing it wrong. You have to subtract to multiple to divide, but STOP, don’t do it that old fashioned simple way, but you need to do it in complex incomprehensible algorithm. Yup. You are glad you went to law school. So you smugly point out incongruences in the wording to camouflage your obvious lack of mathematical skills. Sadly, the salient points are lost on your 3rd grader.
Patience. If nothing, being a mom expeditiously increases your capacity for patience. Your ability to absorb hours of whining, talking back, complaints naturally translates in an ability to calmly sit through the opposing counsel’s clearly incoherent and incorrect argument. You know how to respond in a calm, firm, and slightly patronizing way to put them in their place. Argument over.
Unembarrasable. Is that even a word? It doesn’t matter, I am mom, so I just made it one. As a mom you become unable to be embarrassed. It’s true and it’s lovely. No longer are you held by the constraints of normal bounds of embarrassment – you are a mom, you are supposed to embarrass yourself and you kids! The freedom is wonderful. Take this and translate it into the court. Roll in there and be yourself. Fight the good fight with flare. Enjoy it.
I could go on, as we mothers tend to do at times (at least according to our kids) – but I don’t want to bore or embarrass you. Both of these things I need to save for my kids. So, to my fellow lawyer moms, I salute you. Embrace your mother skills, use them boldly and without hesitation. Use them in court, in motions, in negotiation. Oh, the court battles you can win, with a lawyerly motherly grin. Don’t hesitate, don’t wait, you’re a mom – I know you’ll be great!