Being a woman and an attorney (or any other professional, for that matter) makes your private life much more difficult. Worth it? Most likely. Difficult? Yes. Begin with determining the right time to start a family (if you want one). Female attorneys are always told to wait to have that first baby until after you’ve made partner or you won’t be seen as serious. Female professors are told to wait until they have moved forward on the tenure track. Other professional women are also given comparable advice. And yet we all listen to the slow, enduring tick of our biological clocks. Sometimes the men in our lives are willing to wait for the right time but sometimes that doesn’t work very well. One woman expressed this the best: “’Don't have children until you make partner,’ we were advised. ‘The firm will assume you're not serious about your career.’ Instead, my husband assumed I was not serious about our marriage. By the time I was eligible for partnership, seven "apprentice" years had turned to ten and I was single.”
Gladly, most of us untangle that and end up with an intact marriage and a child or two but that’s when the real work begins. The departure memo of a woman from Clifford Chance, a prestigious international law firm says it all. Even with support at home, it’s hard to be the mom. This woman decided the best way to strike a work-life balance was to quit her job. That won’t be the answer for all women and isn't even a viable answer for a lot of women due to finances. So trying to strike that balance becomes important. There was a recent interview with Laurel Bellows, current President of the American Bar Association, wherein she openly discusses the difficulties of work-life balance. In fact, she went so far as to say the work-life balance concept is a fraud – there is no balance. And I would have to agree.
No. This is not a call to abandon the careers you have worked so hard to build to return home and don an apron. And no, this is not a call to steadfastly hold on to your career and abandon the children you love and adore. This is simply an admission that the work-life balance is impossible to achieve. And a question regarding what we need to do about it.