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Aspiring/Active/Retiring/Recovering LAWYER MOMS! - Page 6

post #101 of 369
ooh, lawyer here too! first i was a newspaper reporter for six years and then i went to law school. i have been practicing five years. now i am a full-time SAHM and LOVING it!! i have done a bunch of legal stuff from medium firm to government to in-house counsel. by far my most challenging job was being an attorney for cps. there i learned how aweful parents can be. and how a lot of those parents are employed in childcare/hospital/elderly care. it was seriously scary and made me rethink my priorities. (in arizona, childcare workers weren't required to have their names processed through the cps database until about two years ago...).
my mother is a doctor so i grew up with the notion that to be a professional one has to work full-time (she went back to work full-time a week after i was born..). so it was hard to get out of that mindset. finally i said "screw it" to everything and decided to be a SAHM. i couldn't imagine leaving my daughter (but she is also a high needs gal so it is a special circumstance).
i will probably do some contract work later, but right now i have no time to do anything really
post #102 of 369
I have a 1900 billable hour target. In order to take any vacation time, I would have to bill 8 hours a day. In other words... I don't take any vacations!!! I always work weekends. And then I never meet my target. I can easily bill a 10-12 hour day if I'm working on document review or something...but like mammastar2 says, I usually work a lot of files and my time just slips through my hands. But the general rule is that a typical person loses 2 hours a day.

My time counts toward my targets if it's written off, too.

My friends in DC and NY regularly bill 2200-2400 a year.
post #103 of 369
Quote:
Originally Posted by Selesai View Post
What about everyone else? Why did you go to law school? Are you practicing or did you run away screaming? How are you balancing your work and family lives?
I ran away screaming.

I went to law school and was absolutely miserable there. I sunk into a depression that was so deep that in retrospect I am scared stiff that I lived like that. Sometime during law school I became obsessed with having children, and by the time my son was born during my third year, my depression had completely lifted and I felt a renewed sense of hope and meaning.

I took the bar after I graduated, but I don't practice. I would only have wanted to work very part time (just a few hours per week), and it's hard to find anything decent to do for such a small amount of time. Furthermore, I'm terrified that if I had that much contact with the law I would relapse into depression.

As for balancing work and family, my hope lies in sequencing: doing it all, just not all at once.
post #104 of 369
Thread Starter 
I'm actually surprised that so many people things 2000 is a high billable requirement. I live near DC and I agree with a prior poster-- apparently 2000 is average. Of course, if you're used to small/medium sized firms elsewhere in the country, you are likely coming from a different perspective. I personally believe 1800 to be more reasonable, but we don't always get choices in these things!

I have never heard of someone's billables not including writeoffs.
And, I don't know how much time I'll have to spend on adminsitrative stuff. I'm just going to have to buckle down, get to work early, and remember that I"m going home to my family.

Hmmm... more later
post #105 of 369
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by hypatia View Post
I ran away screaming.

I went to law school and was absolutely miserable there. I sunk into a depression that was so deep that in retrospect I am scared stiff that I lived like that. Sometime during law school I became obsessed with having children, and by the time my son was born during my third year, my depression had completely lifted and I felt a renewed sense of hope and meaning.

I took the bar after I graduated, but I don't practice. I would only have wanted to work very part time (just a few hours per week), and it's hard to find anything decent to do for such a small amount of time. Furthermore, I'm terrified that if I had that much contact with the law I would relapse into depression.

As for balancing work and family, my hope lies in sequencing: doing it all, just not all at once.

Not to be nosy, but how did you deal with the financial side of leaving the law? I was halfway through law school when I thought I might like to leave, but by that point I was already so far in financially that I had to finish. I think I'll end up being ok, but it seems that once you start, you usually can't stop.
post #106 of 369
Quote:
Originally Posted by Selesai View Post
I'm actually surprised that so many people things 2000 is a high billable requirement. I live near DC and I agree with a prior poster-- apparently 2000 is average. Of course, if you're used to small/medium sized firms elsewhere in the country, you are likely coming from a different perspective. I personally believe 1800 to be more reasonable, but we don't always get choices in these things!

I have never heard of someone's billables not including writeoffs.
And, I don't know how much time I'll have to spend on adminsitrative stuff. I'm just going to have to buckle down, get to work early, and remember that I"m going home to my family.

Hmmm... more later
Actually, I'm at a large firm in a large city: I still think 2000 is high! I'm probably going to bill about 1850-1900 this year, which is a first, and I'm pretty bagged, and will be working 4 out of my 5 days of booked vacation next week : I have got more efficient over the course of a few years, but having a 2000 hour target, especially in my first few years, would slay me!

I certainly do knuckle under, get to work early and head home to my family - it's just exhausting, and involves always being behind and working unpredictable hours, since what time you head home depends in large measure on what the file is and who the other lawyers are, not on how hard you work. For the most part I think I'm pretty fortunate, as I like the people I work with and do some interesting work, but this is the flip side.

Honestly, when I was starting practice, I did the same thing you're probably doing, namely taking the billable target, dividing it by months and days, and figuring out how many hours per day I was looking at. It sounded pretty reasonable to me too, but once you get into practice and figure out how time gets 'lost,' how file management works, what your marketing and continuing ed requirements are, you'll have a better sense of how it plays out in practice.

Edited to add: whoops, I thought you were just starting practice, but I remember now you were thinking of 'going big.' Still, though, I think the point holds about needing to factor in the extras and the unpredictability...

Good luck!
post #107 of 369

job fairs

Hi Mamas

I'm a 3L, and hoping to hear from some more experienced mama lawyers out there.

There are two big job fairs in September - one is regional and aimed at diversity and the other is in my field of concentration (Indian Law). Should I attend?

I am due with my first in late Oct, so expect to be incredibly pregnant when I interview. Will this work against me? Should I even bother? Of course, the baby will be long born by the time I graduate and start working, but I imagine you get judged in the interview pretty harshly.

Of course, the other question is Do you think job fairs are even worth it? Did anyone ever find a job that way? Notice I have only concentrated on those specific to my geographic region/diversity recruitment and my specialized field. And then there's the traveling while 9 mos pregnant thing. I don't even know how feasible that is.

Anyway, thanks for any insight/advice.
post #108 of 369
Quote:
Originally Posted by vivianstcloud View Post
Hi Mamas

I'm a 3L, and hoping to hear from some more experienced mama lawyers out there.

There are two big job fairs in September - one is regional and aimed at diversity and the other is in my field of concentration (Indian Law). Should I attend?

I am due with my first in late Oct, so expect to be incredibly pregnant when I interview. Will this work against me? Should I even bother? Of course, the baby will be long born by the time I graduate and start working, but I imagine you get judged in the interview pretty harshly.

Of course, the other question is Do you think job fairs are even worth it? Did anyone ever find a job that way? Notice I have only concentrated on those specific to my geographic region/diversity recruitment and my specialized field. And then there's the traveling while 9 mos pregnant thing. I don't even know how feasible that is.

Anyway, thanks for any insight/advice.
I don't think it's a waste of time to interview while pregnant. Given that you're looking for a job off in the future, the employers don't have to worry that they're about to pick up a mat leave. I think it shows you're serious about what you do. Some employers may be turned off - but my opinion is that you don't want to work for those people anyway. If they don't want a mama employee, then how are you going to work for them once your baby's born? And if no one hires you, then at least you've had a practice interview or two.

Be prepared, though, to deal with the issue in your interview. They may not want to ask so be ready to tell them how you anticipate combining motherhood and work. Even the most family-friendly employers will want to hear that you have a plan and this is not going to become their problem. So I would be ready to tell them what your childcare plans are and how prepared you are for the challenges coming up. Be confident and they'll relax - some of them probably have their own kids and know it's not the end of the world.

Others may have differeing POVs - anyone?
post #109 of 369
I agree with everything lawyermom said... what I'm not sure about, and the reason I haven't weighed in, is the value of job fairs. I just don't have any experience with them. All my interviews were done through my law school's interview process. However, I can't imagine that employers would waste their time sending people to job fairs if they weren't serious about looking for candidates there. I think attending these targeted fairs is a wise idea, especially in the small field of Indian Law. I'm jealous - that's what I wanted to do.
post #110 of 369
Wow, I just had the revelation! Some of you were saying, just wait until you have a baby, your feelings toward your job will change... well, I think they just did, six months early!

I was reading someone's stories about their world travels with their family, and I realized that if I just work here 3 days a week, all that would be at my fingertips too, instead of living paycheck to paycheck as a teacher. Wow. All of a sudden "setting a good example" doesn't feel quite so important. I'll let my husband set the example, LOL! And maybe I can set the example when the kids are older and being on their school schedule matters more.

Wow. This is shocking. Maybe it will pass, but... wow. A total 180 from where I've been for the past year or so.
post #111 of 369
I am starting 1L soon and am getting really nervous! I'm a returning homemaker with three small children. Any advice? I am a naturally competitive person (major character flaw as well as best strength ) and want to do really well. How much did you all work? I am planning on allotting about 60 hrs/week, inclusive (classes + studying + activities). My school is a well-ranked large state university (not like TOP ranked, but in the top 30), so it will be fairly tough to do well. Curves are yucky, I prefer merit-based grading systems.

Also, as practicing attorneys, how many hours do you spend with your family per day? Do you feel like your familyh life suffers for it? (uh, can you tell I'm struggling with doubts here? hehe).
post #112 of 369
Well, like a pp, I was a music major, and, while I loved it, I realized while in college that if I practiced, tried to support myself, and tried to find a job, that would pretty much take up all my time, and having a family may or may not ever happen.

So I went to law school, because I figured there were a lot of things I could do with the degree, and it would always put food on the table.

I started out in criminal defense, burned out on that, and tried civil litigation for awhile. Big mistake, at least for me. I am just not detail oriented enough for civil work. From there, I worked for a telecommunications consulting firm for four years, from 1998-2002, when the bottom really dropped out of the telecom industry. Oh, yeah, and my boss came at me in a rage and one of my co-workers thought he was going to smack me. I loved telecom, but work in the industry around here is pretty scarce.

So, I went back to the one thing I knew I could do, which was criminal defense. To my surprise, I had grown alot in the intervening years, and now loved it. I even enjoyed court work, which I had hated before. I tried my hand at starting my own firm, while supplementing income doing court coverage for others, but gave that up while ttc dd1 because it was just too stressful waking up in the middle of the night wondering if I had committed malpractice that day.

Once dd was born, I quickly realized going back to work outside the house, even part -time, which had been the plan, was no longer an option for me. So I called my employer and asked her if I could just write some briefs from home for her for awhile. Her response was a wonderful, "of course, you have waited too long for that baby, you can't leave her yet." Wow. So, I started writing for her, and she discovered it was great having me always at her beck and call as a constant resource for writing or for looking up misc. statutes and case law while she was in court. And she started putting my name out there, and I started writing for other attorneys too, and now I have my own business doing writing and research work for other attorneys. I get to stay at home with my kiddo and work in my jammies. And still make payments on my student loans. Luckily, I really love research and writing, and I have been able to price my services such that a lot of smaller firms (mostly solo practitioners) find it more economical to hire me than to do the work themselves. I make a comfortable living working part time. Yeah, I could make more money if I really pushed it, but the whole idea of being home for me was to balance work and family. So I work mostly when the nanny comes in the afternoons, and can spend time with dd in the mornings.

I think that answers most of the op's quesitons.

Vivian, as for the job fairs, I would definitely go, if your pg will allow. And ita with the pp's advice about being prepared to explain how you will combine a career and motherhood. And you might want to throw something in there about child spacing, too, so that they will know whether mat. leave will figure into your first year or two with their firm. (I think you picked a great concentration for combining work and family, btw. I have done a little defense work on a nearby reservaton for private clients and I was struck by how family-friendly the courts seemed to be.)
post #113 of 369
I think, as the pp demonstrated, it all depends on why you are going to law school and how you plan to practice. For me, yes, working full-time at a corporate litigation firm interferes with my time with my family. That's why, when my baby is born, I am planning to cut back to part-time - hopefully 50 or 60 percent. I am thrilled that I have this option and it works out well - I will make double what I would as a teacher (my alternate career) and only work three days a week (no summers off, but I'm sure it balances out, and this way, until my kids are in school, I get to see them most of the week all year round.

If you can find that option, it's fantastic. Otherwise, look elsewhere for your practice. I'm not sure where though - probably the federal gov't is a good pick. Most of the people I know who work for the feds have 35-40 hour a week jobs, but there are plenty of exceptions to that too. State gov't workers I know work like crazy; most solos work a lot... maybe legal aid? But at the point, you are making beans and it doesn't pay to go to law school!

(Can you tell I'm not thrilled with my decision? In hindsight I am glad I went to law school, and I love my school and the people I met there, but I don't think it was the right decision for me. And if I couldn't go to a school where I were almost guaranteed my pick of jobs, I definitely wouldn't have thought it was a good decision for me.)
post #114 of 369
Not to be nosy, but how did you deal with the financial side of leaving the law?

while you didn't question me specificly, i felt similarly.

i knew half way through my second year that i didn't want to practice law. but i felt that if i left then, it would have really been a financial waste, and i didn't have an alternative of what i would do to pay of that debt anyway, so i thought i'd stay and figure things out.

i am glad that i did stay, because over that remaining 1.5 years, i learned a lot about myself AND i set up to do the work i do now (see sig line. ). i got my certifications in order, i made connections in the community, and i learned how to run my own business.

then, when i graduated, i started teaching yoga full time. i never did take the bar. i was able to defer my loans for a bit, and now i have an auto-withdraw from my account each month.

it's a painless way to pay back that $100k in debt. and that is a painful debt. but in the 5-6 years since i've been out of school, i have managed to pay a nice portion of that debt each month. of course, i'm very lucky because my husband's income supports both of us, and my only bills are the school debt and whatever my business needs are.

it is my hope that in the coming months, my business will transition to one of teaching more workshops--which does mean more money. with this, i hope to pay back more each month toward my loans, so that i can pay them off more quickly.

but, that's how i'm doing it. i make just enough doing what i am doing to pay for my business, pay for my school debt, and pay for our family's "fun money" (which has two accounts--a savings for big fun like vacations, also used as an emergency fund, and a checking for our fun money for movies, dining out, etc--which right now is being spent on our rabbit's acupuncture and other vet care).
post #115 of 369

Leaving law - financial side

I forget if I already answered this, but I just settled on the sale of our first home last week. We made a $70k profit, almost all of which is going into our student debt - both our loans and the credit cards I racked up because I didn't have any income all those years. It gets us to a place where we could actually afford for me to do something else. It is such a breath of fresh air to be free of so many payments every month!

My school also has a loan repayment program - if I do *anything* full-time that earns less than about $50k a year, they pay off my loans for me that year, and it's pro rated at salaries about that. We didn't pay off some of my student loans precisely because we will be able to take advantage of this program if need be. I would check out whether your schools have such a program, or if you are still considering several different schools, choose one that offers such a plan. I know they aren't common, but they exist.
post #116 of 369
sarah:

thanks for that. i will check to see if my school has such a program (last i checked, it didn't).

but also, congratulations on the sale and the ability to pay off so much debt with that money! that's wonderful.
post #117 of 369
Quote:
Originally Posted by therdogg View Post
I am starting 1L soon and am getting really nervous! I'm a returning homemaker with three small children. Any advice? I am a naturally competitive person (major character flaw as well as best strength ) and want to do really well. How much did you all work? I am planning on allotting about 60 hrs/week, inclusive (classes + studying + activities). My school is a well-ranked large state university (not like TOP ranked, but in the top 30), so it will be fairly tough to do well. Curves are yucky, I prefer merit-based grading systems.

Also, as practicing attorneys, how many hours do you spend with your family per day? Do you feel like your familyh life suffers for it? (uh, can you tell I'm struggling with doubts here? hehe).

I didn't spend 60 hours a week in law school. I attended classes and did the readings (mostly) and wrote the papers (usually in a flurry at the end of the semester) and did the exams (big cram at the end of the semester). I didnt' do a ton of extracurricular stuff, just some clinic work and some journal reviewer things. Basically, there was a big push at the end of a semester, but otherwise it was all quite manageable. I'm a fast reader for content, though, which made a difference.

It's hard to say how many hours I spend per day with my family, because it varies a lot. Last week I wasn't all that productive, home for dinner every night, weekend off. Next week is the first week of school and I'm going to work from home, make my child a hot lunch, work extra in the evenings to make up for it because I'm under deadline on a big file. This week I'm out of the office a lot but still have work to do, so I was out the door by 6 am this morning and my child may be in bed when I get home. In some ways, it's quite manageble: it's really the unpredictabilty that can make it hard on everyone.
post #118 of 369
when i was in law school, my classes + studying + activities time was roughly 6 to 7 hours per day. i worked on law stuff only M-F.

I was in one activity. I chose carefully--because i felt my time was very valuable. I chose the Alternative Dispute Resolution Society. They met during the week day (usually around lunch), and they had three competitions a year, which ran on three weekends (local, regional, and national competition). In my third year, I was also involved in the Environmental Law Clinic at my school--which required 10 hours of work per week. i worked 7-8 hour days while working for the clinic.

I found it very easy to leave everything at school. i treated it like i would a normal work day. I left home at the same time every morning, arrived at school at the same time every day, and i left school at the same time every day. I scheduled my classes and participated in activities that allowed this.

i did very well in school--i really enjoyed studying law--and i did not find it at all stressful or difficult. i do not understand why some people where there for 60-80 hour weeks, and of many who were, i did far better than them on exams, oral presentations, and overall scores. i even had the highest case load in the law clinic, even though i only was at school for 40 hours during the week.

i guess it's just the way that i work.

i should also note that one of my friends was a single mom of 4. she did the same thing. she lived a good 1.5 hour drive from the school. she would drop her kids off at day care (they were all school aged), knowing that the day care would get them to the schools. she would work a regular work day (7-8 hours), and then pick them up from after-school day care. She would not do work at home--even during exam times she would study only at school.

she also did very well in her classes, and her children were very happy with this arrangement. She was lucky in that her XH paid for the day care and living expenses for all 5 of them--as she had agreed to pay his way through his schooling, in exchange that when he was finished, she would get to do her schooling. He actually agreed, in the divorce, to support her while in law school. She still had to pay for school--but he paid all of their living expenses, extra day care, etc.

but she found that the 'work day' schedule worked really nicely for her as well.
post #119 of 369
The bulk of my work during law school was definitely extra-curricular. Our courses were Honors, Pass, Low Pass, and Fail, and the classroom was highly non-competitive except for a few losers , which helped with putting extra-curriculars first, LOL. But I spent 10 hours a week in clinic, at least 10 hours a week on my journal, anywhere from 1 to 10 hours on our Domestic Violence Project... and a bunch of other little things that added up. I didn't work as hard as I should have in my classes, and I played a lot of catch up at the end of the semester.
post #120 of 369
This is very reassuring. I know I can handle a 40 or 50 hour law school "work week" but I was very apprehensive about some of the stories I'd read about 12 hours/day studying.
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