Many female attorneys have difficulty juggling time between their work schedule and taking care of their family at home. Some have had to choose between their practice and taking time off to raise young children. Others have chosen a compromise by practicing law part time and spending more time at home with their families. Part-time employment is often difficult to find. The lack of sufficient part-time opportunities is especially disappointing in the current economic climate.
Carla Fox is a Nashville attorney and mother of three. She is a graduate of Mississippi State University and the University of Tennessee Law School. Her resume reveals an impressive background, including law review membership and past work at a top notch law firm. However, after the birth of her children, she decided that the demands of a full time law practice prevented her from spending as much time as she needed to spend with her children. Attorney Fox chose to leave the big firm practice, home school her children during the critical early years and seek part time work. Her choice paid off. Her oldest daughter, Ashley, recently graduated from high school with high honors and is pursuing her own higher education. Ashley’s siblings are working hard on the same path. Attorney Fox was able to maintain a balance between her law practice and her family life by successfully maintaining a part time corporate law practice advising clients on business and transactional matters. Attorney Fox is fortunate. Statistics show that few mothers have had the opportunity to work part time on corporate matters. According to a recent article in the National Law Journal that was recently posted on Law.Com, the Project for Attorney Retention is trying to change that.
The Project for Attorney Retention (PAR) has started an initiative called the Diversity and Flexibility Connection. The goal of the initiative is to encourage legal departments and law firms to support flexible work schedules and provide more opportunities for female attorneys and others who need flexible work schedules. The initiative seeks more than just window dressing. The initiative seeks not only to improve opportunities but to also insure that these employees are given meaningful work and important roles in their firms. Corporate participants in the initiative include Wal-Mart, Shell Oil, Macy’s and others. Law firm participants in the initiative include Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal, Morrison & Foerster, Sidley Austin and others.
The Diversity and Flexibility Connection is a worthwhile initiative. Hopefully, it will jump start similar efforts by other corporations and law firms. One shouldn’t have to choose between a fulfilling professional life or a fulfilling family life.