by Angela Morris (Law.com, Oct. 31, 2018, Link or download PDF)
The old saying, “Don’t crying over spilled milk,” doesn’t apply when you’re a nursing lawyer-mom, using a toilet as a table while pumping your breast milk during your practice group’s annual retreat.
Utilizing the bathroom as a makeshift baby-food kitchen wasn’t labor and employment litigator Elise Elam’s first choice. She recalled she was relegated to the loo only after staff in the retreat facility offered up a room with a non-closing door that left a gap where she could see the speaker talking to all her colleagues. The toilet stall was private, at least. After she finished pumping and started to gather her gear, that’s when it happened: Elam’s milk spilled all over the toilet and floor. She acknowledges—she cried.
“It was stressful,” explained Elam, staff attorney at Frost Brown Todd in Cincinnati.
Like many nursing lawyer-moms, Elam is happy with her law firm’s breastfeeding accommodations—she has a private office and closes her door with a do-not-disturb sign when she expresses her milk—yet she continues facing struggles when depositions, hearings or legal conferences take her away from home base for extended periods of time. Courthouses have emerged as a primary problem area for nursing lawyers who need a private place, and time, to pump milk for their babies.
One group advocating on behalf of breastfeeding attorneys is MothersEsquire, a Facebook group with 3,000 lawyer-moms spread around the nation, which created a breastfeeding accommodations advisory committee in early 2017.
After having her second child, Southern California litigator Erin Giglia worked part-time for law firm Snell & Wilmer, but fellow associate Laurie Rowen had different plans for work when her baby girl was born 16 days after Giglia’s daughter.
Rowen always knew she wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, while continuing to do legal work on an extremely part-time basis. It took nearly a year for Giglia to jump on board, but when she did, the pair co-founded Montage Legal Group, a new legal business model especially attractive to women.
Montage and firms like it have proven a good match for all sorts of lawyers who want to set their own work terms, but they have become particularly popular with lawyer moms who want to dramatically reduce their hours after they give birth, but who also want to stay in the legal game. The part-time experience at these kinds of firms also eases the transition back into the profession full time, if they choose to, when their children get older.
Say the word “flextime” and most people think of reduced hours for working mothers. But a small, yet growing number of male lawyers are using lighter job schedules to strike the right work-life balance.
More law firms in recent years have incorporated flextime policies—especially reduced-hour schedules—to help with attorney retention. And women, more than men, have used the policies to balance their jobs with raising kids.
But more widespread adoption by male attorneys of the benefit is expected to lift all boats—helping women lawyers juggle demands and attracting millennial attorneys less interested in working a constant grind.
PDF: Move Over Moms, Male Lawyers Are Using Flextime Too _ Law.com
When Chicago lawyer Lee Muench was planning his paternity leave for his first baby, an offhanded comment by an old-school partner got under his skin.
Muench had asked around about how long other partners and associates took off for paternity leave. The firm as a whole was receptive to leave, but one partner told Muench that he wouldn’t know what to do with himself after a couple of days, and his wife would want him out of the house.
The meaning was clear to Muench: Come back to work soon. Although the firm’s policy allowed 10 weeks, he decided to take four weeks off, feeling he was pushing the boundaries.
(This story published on law.com on May 30, 2017. You can read it online with a subscription or download a PDF.)
(This story published originally on http://www.law.com on Jan. 13, 2017.)
Big Law couple Liz and Matthew Dubeck both made partner at their respective Los Angeles firms this year, thanks in part to wallabies, cheetahs, pandas and giraffes.
“I currently have a giraffe and a panda,” said Liz Dubeck, referring to her son Emmett, 5, and daughter Lillian, 3. Their animal identities came from their classes at Hope Street Friends, a day care co-sponsored by Dubeck’s firm, O’Melveny & Myers—which partnered with Munger, Tolles & Olson and an investment firm to start the day care.
“We don’t see how it would have worked without the flexibility of having the day care center there,” said Dubeck, whose practice focuses on finance and real estate development, and whose husband is a partner in Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. “It has made it possible to stay. From a practical standpoint, I really don’t know how I would continue working full-time without it.”
It’s common for law firms to provide emergency or back-up child care for lawyers who must work nights or weekends, or who need child care during school holidays or when kids are sick. But very few have taken the next step by opening full-time, onsite day care, despite their lamentations about the exodus of women from Big Law once they start families. Cost, it seems, is the primary reason the service hasn’t caught on.
Law firms that are providing onsite day care for the children of attorneys and staff say they see benefits in recruiting lawyers and keeping them at the firm.
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Working mothers who nurse must express their breast milk—a process that takes about 20 minutes—every two to three hours to supply food for their babies and cue their bodies to continue making enough milk. For lawyer moms, who often practice at the whim of client demands, it’s a huge challenge to keep a set schedule to pump their milk, especially in a profession in which when they often can’t control times for meetings, breaks and court appearances.
PDF: Pumping and Practicing_ A Delicate Balance for Breastfeeding Lawyers _ Law