Susan Smith Blakely

Women Lawyers and Lawyer Couples

Two-lawyer households:  I know a little about those.  My husband and I graduated two years apart from law school, and the following 40-plus years are history.  Not only the history of our two careers and more than three law firms and public service for each of us, but also the history of a couple and a family --- which now includes two children, both of them lawyers.  As we prepare to celebrate our 48th wedding anniversary, I think you could say that it worked for us.  But, it was not easy.

First, there were the years when our two careers were new and very exciting.  We were learning so much and pushing the envelope for all it was worth.  It was a great challenge, for sure, but it also was exhilarating.  We would come together at night after long hours at the office, able to share our experiences because we spoke the same professional language.  It never got old to experience the profession through another set of eyes --- with trust and candor.

Those years were followed by the years with children when we were just plain tired all of the time.  Tired of working so hard at the office and tired of working so hard at home.  But never tired of each other or tired of the kids.  It was family --- always family first --- and many difficult career decisions followed as we made certain that we had time to do right by our family.  The difficult choices turned out to be the right choices, and professional success often was a dynamic concept based on changing circumstances.

And those years were followed by reflection and incredible pride in what we had accomplished.  And those feelings of pride remain to this day and grow with every new success experienced by our family of lawyers.

So, when I saw this article in the National Law Journal, it was natural that I wanted to share it with you.   Written as an inspiration for today's two-lawyer families, it includes information that has become de rigueurfor those of us who have lived it but may be unfamiliar to so many young lawyer couples.

Today more than ever, lawyers have spouses and significant others, who also are lawyers.  It is simple:  There are so many more women lawyers in practice today; and lawyers today often spend more time at the office than at home.  So, lawyers are naturally and disproportionately likely to end up in love relationships with other lawyers.

If that is a scary concept to you --- because you cannot imagine overcoming the challenges of a two-lawyer relationship --- consider the example of United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her now deceased husband Martin Ginsburg.  Channeling their experience, the articleprovides guidance on how to survive the pressures of two-lawyer couples and parenting:

  • Support each other, and treat the other person's work like it is equally as important as your own;
  • Delegate well --- both at the office and at home.  It is especially important to delegate things that the other person enjoys doing more and can do better; and
  • Do not assume to know where all responsibilities lie within the couple.  With too much to do and too little time to do it, couples must remain flexible to provide the support that is critical for mutual success.  "Find your domain and share the load."

You can learn a lot from the excellent example that the Ginsburgs set for you ...  and for me ...  and for all of us to follow.  Theirs was both a great love and a great success story, which included two remarkable law careers and a cherished family history.  It has been memorialized in the film "RBG," and I hope you will find it soon in a theater near you.

1 Comments

mlbrown

Great post! I’ll be sharing this blog and the accompanying article with the other half of my young lawyer couple.

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