“What Lawyers and Firms Should Do to Balance Law and Family"
The first concept calls on mothers and caregivers to set their own narrative, including identifying goals, recognizing their value and managing expectations as both a parent/caretaker and an attorney. Once established, it’s important to communicate those goals and expectations to others (i.e. superiors and colleagues). Whether dealing with a mother or father, the firm should ensure that the attorneys are free to set their own narratives without ridicule, retaliation or discrimination.
The second solution to help drive a healthy balance is mutual flexibility between the individual caregivers and the firms employing them to generate trust and respect. Examples of mutual flexibility include changed office hours to accommodate parental and work responsibilities, working from home, reimbursing the cost of shipping breast milk home while an attorney is traveling for client work, extended paid leave, in-office daycares and more.
Being an attorney today is different than being one 50 years ago, with attorneys bringing varied goals and familial situations to the table. “Therefore, individual attorneys and organizations alike must demonstrate commitment to diversity, communication and flexibility to thrive,” Lee and McElrath said. “Caregivers, determine your goals and expectations and articulate them to those around you—set your own narrative. Otherwise, those surrounding you will make assumptions, right or wrong, about what they think you want. You must be in charge of your career if you want to accomplish the goals you have set for yourself, both at work and at home.”
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