Friday, August 22, 2008

 

Law Students are Thinking About Work/Life Balance

I had the honor of attending the first year orientation at my former law school this week. The students of the Class of 2011 are an extremely bright, energetic, and enthusiastic group. They were eager to talk with the alumni about our law school experiences and the practice of law. This was not a shy group and I very much enjoyed the time that I spent with them. In fact, I left the orientation reinvigorated about my own career in the law.

I was surprised by very few of the questions that I was asked. But, I was taken aback by one question that was asked by some of the female first years. Can a lawyer be successful and still have a family? My answer was absolutely! It takes flexibility and open communication on the part of the attorney and the employer. I also mentioned the work that PAR has and continues to do with law firms around the issue of reduced hours. They were encouraged to hear that law firms have come a long way since I graduated from law school thirteen years ago. Lawyers who want to be involved parents while continuing to practice law at its highest level and requests for reduced hours schedules are no longer met with surprise by firm management.

I was also a bit surprised that none of the male first years asked me about work/life balance, given the spate of research showing that young men want to be more involved with their family lives than their fathers were. To all of the young men who didn’t ask but wanted to: “Yes, you can have lives outside the office, too, and PAR strongly supports your efforts to do so.”

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