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Aspiring/Active/Retiring/Recovering LAWYER MOMS! - Page 2

post #21 of 369
I was recently chatting with a couple of friends who work in government (litigation, though) and, weirdly, ended up feeling better about being in private practice. They're both on contract with no benefits or job security at all, and have been putting in absolutely insane hours without all of the big firm supports - it's just you, late at night, with the photocopier...it really kind of burst my bubble!

Perhaps this is as good as it gets??
post #22 of 369
Quote:
Originally Posted by mammastar2 View Post
I was recently chatting with a couple of friends who work in government (litigation, though) and, weirdly, ended up feeling better about being in private practice. They're both on contract with no benefits or job security at all, and have been putting in absolutely insane hours without all of the big firm supports - it's just you, late at night, with the photocopier...it really kind of burst my bubble!

Perhaps this is as good as it gets??
i think their experience may have more to do with being contract attorneys than the government. In my experience at a large state agency, benefits and job security were excellent. We all left after 8 hours, unless of course we were preparing for trial. But as a new attorney, the nice thing about that was that if I was up late preparing, at least it was for MY OWN case/hearing, and I wasn't just doing someone else's work. Also - if I was trying to get something out or prepared, usually my staff (sec and para) were there to help me. (not always, but if I needed it, someone would stay). But yes, I did sometimes do my own photocopying
Perhaps it is different wherever you are, but their experience does not sound at all like mine!
post #23 of 369
Yes, I think that once you're "in", things can be pretty awesome. The difficulty is that it's almost impossible to get "in", as such, at least where I live. Sigh...
post #24 of 369
I am a lawyer, or was. Currently I sew. I went to law school because it was that or med school and I loved to argue and debate with anyone about anything.

I had my DS during 3rd year she was early I was not supposed to have her until after I graduated. She has always had her own mind...

I am not currently practicing. I have worked at 2 firms and I quit the last in January after my son was ill and I needed to be home with him and they gave me grief about it (last in a series of issues). I did family law. Sometimes now I'll do easy stuff for people nothing crazy.
post #25 of 369
Quote:
Originally Posted by mammastar2 View Post
I was recently chatting with a couple of friends who work in government (litigation, though) and, weirdly, ended up feeling better about being in private practice. They're both on contract with no benefits or job security at all, and have been putting in absolutely insane hours without all of the big firm supports - it's just you, late at night, with the photocopier...it really kind of burst my bubble!

Perhaps this is as good as it gets??

I think the key is that they're on contract. There are decent benefits and reasonable job security if you aren't a contract employee in the government. The one benefit I see from being a contract employee is that sometimes new government job openings are filled by contractors that have been working in the group they are being hired in. This makes sense since the hiring manager knows what she is going to get so the risk is minimal.

The working level for Federal gvt attorneys is a GS-13 or above. The basic salary for a GS-13 Step 1 is about $72k but with the addition of locality pay or Cost of Living Allowance, the pay is much higher. Certain departments allow one day off a week. Others allow two days off a week if you put in 10 hours a day on the days you do work. Some Federal employees have the option of telecommuting. It all depends which agency you work for.

It isn't easy to get into a government job. It used to be easier when I applied. I sent in a snail mail letter with my resume. Now the whole system is computerized and you have to make sure you put in all the buzzwords so that the system picks out your resume from hundreds of others.
post #26 of 369
Chiming in a little late here, so glad I found this thread. You can put me in the recovering/never practiced category.

Why did I go to law school? I thought I could save a few people. I was a pre-school teacher before I went to law school and I went to a law school that had a good child law program. I thought I would practice in this area. Once I got to law school, I just couldn't handle the emotional aspects of the field and fell in love with tax law.
I also wanted to go to law school because I wanted a terminal degree and law school was only 3 years and PHD program was a lot longer.

After I finished my first year, I didn't think law was for me, but felt like I had to finish because I had already invested a year. I externed & worked for the governement and non-profits. I liked these areas of law. After I got my JD I decided to get my LL.M., because I am from Hawaii and we don't have an LL.M. program there. It was one more year of my life and I figured I just do it. I moved back home, got married and enrolled in culinary school. DH, an atty as well, worked for a non-profit & all was well. Then the NP lost the funding for his position & we had a mortgage. I found a job in taxation & worked for a few years. I got pregnant had my baby, went to work full time for a month and then decided to quit. I worked part-time once my daughter was a year old, did that a for a year then quit again, to birth my son.

Now I'm a SAHM & loving it.
post #27 of 369
Thank you for starting this thread. I had been wanting to speak to other lawyers who are also moms.

I live in Canada so my situation might be a little different. I graduated in 2000 and practised family law at a small firm for two years before moving over to the government. Now I work at something quasi-litigious.

How do I manage work and family.... I work part time, only 3 days per week. And I pump at work. Now, that is something that is not particularly appreciated or easy sometimes - I have to go out of town overnight next week to conduct several examinations for discovery (I think you call them depositions?) and I am just wondering exactly how I can break it to the other lawyer, who is male, and his clients, that I NEED to go off on my own for several minutes. I have given up on the idea of being able to use my electric pump and think I will be condemned to a toilet cubicle with my good old manual pump.

I really like being a lawyer, much more than I liked being a law student (I thought the students at my law school were too much into partying and gossip) but sometimes I fantisize about becoming a lactation consultant - but I could never make as much money, not that I'm particularly greedy but those darn student loans!
post #28 of 369
Over the last few weeks, as I've contemplated my future, I've slowly been coming to a realization: I could go to law school, even at age 40 (almost 39 now), like I planned to do 17 years ago when I graduated from college. I've been a SAHM most of my adult life. I have some work experience, but not a lot. As I consider moving back into the working world with 3 teens and 2 toddlers, my work experience doesn't command the type of income I'd need to 1) pay daycare 2) justify the extreme inconvenience involved in the mother of 5 working. Rural Nebraska does not abound with opportunity

I'm considering taking the LSAT Sept 29. Without knowing how well or poorly I do on it, I can't really judge how realistic it would be.

Prior to becoming a mother, going to law school was all I'd ever planned to do. And even after my 2nd child, I was preparing to apply to U of KS law school when I found out I was unexpectedly pregnant with my 3rd, and knew the dream was out of reach for a long while.

However, I've run across some very negative blogs and essays written by people who've been to law school, and really regret it. I'm starting to wonder if anyone is happy being a lawyer . I'm not looking to make a fortune, the last job I had I made about 32K. But I would like a meaningful job that could make at least enough to pay my daycare with some left over.

I look forward to reading the insights of you lawyer mamas here on mdc.
post #29 of 369
Quote:
Originally Posted by gethane View Post
Over the last few weeks, as I've contemplated my future, I've slowly been coming to a realization: I could go to law school, even at age 40 (almost 39 now), like I planned to do 17 years ago when I graduated from college. .
Hi Gethane

I just want to say it's never too late to do something you love! I started law school at 34, and I have a number of classmates who are in their 40's and above. If this is something you are passionate about, go for it!


Quote:
Originally Posted by gethane View Post
I'm considering taking the LSAT Sept 29. Without knowing how well or poorly I do on it, I can't really judge how realistic it would be.
How realistic would what be? How you do on the LSAT is NOT an indicator of how well you would do in law school.

And I would NOT recommend taking the LSAT cold without putting in some quality study time. It is a hard test, esp the logic puzzles, and it is a big factor in a school's decision to let you in. Don't take it lightly. And even though you can retake it, taking it more than twice (and sometimes even twice) is not recommended. All your attempts show on your record.

If you want to know how law school is, go visit U of KS and ask to sit in on some 1L classes. I am sure, as a prospective student, they would let you.


Quote:
Originally Posted by gethane View Post
However, I've run across some very negative blogs and essays written by people who've been to law school, and really regret it. I'm starting to wonder if anyone is happy being a lawyer .
Oh, pay all the negativity no mind. I swear lawyers have a "who can complain the most about being a lawyer" thing going. I am not saying that some folks don't have legitimate gripes, but honestly, most of those folks went to law school young and didnt know what they wanted to do or be when they grew up; they just picked law school because they were supposed to. Most likely, they shouldnt have gone, anyway.

I love law school and I love the lawyering I've been exposed to. I wouldnt trade it for anything. I think this is an advantage that us older returning students have over the 20-somethings fresh out of college; we already know what the work world is like and have no illusions about how difficult and potentially unfulfilling it can be. For me, law school has been a breath of fresh air and chance to do something new and fun that I really love. I think it can be the same for you.

Good luck and let us know if you go forward with your plans!
post #30 of 369
Thanks for your comments vivianstcloud. It's helpful to hear from an older than traditional law student while I'm considering this drastic life change.

This time I'd be applying to U of Nebraska law. Last time I considered this, 14 years ago, I lived in KS.

When I said "realistic" I meant "could I even get into law school." In Nebraska, I don't have many options, and I'd really need some sort of financial assistance/scholarships, so scoring well would be important to me.

I was planning on getting a book for preparation throughout Aug, and taking a test prep class 2 weekends before the test (according to the schedule I looked at, that's the only one in Nebraska). When I discussed this with my dh, I was surprised at just how excited and positive he was about this idea. So I think he would be supportive of my test prep activities. Luckily, I test well, and I think those preparations should give me a good idea on my abilities in this area.

I'm going to talk to my mom tomorrow, since with 5 kids, I would really need the support of my whole family to be successful. (yes, I'm almost 40 years old, and still talk to my mommy ) Since my oldest three are teens already, however, they'll be able to help out too (with driving around each other at any rate).
post #31 of 369
You may hear this a lot, but if AT ALL possible, I would recommend spending time in a law firm before committing to law school. Work as a secretary, intern, office manager, volunteer to make copies - whatever you can do to spend some real time in the environment. I am one who had no idea what I was getting into, and I regret it. My work situation was not bad (worked for gov't) I just did not enjoy the work. And, FWIW, I absolutely loved law school and did well in it.

But as far as your post, I knew many non-traditional students and most did well in school. They tended to be more dedicated students.
post #32 of 369
Thank you for starting this thread! I work in a large national firm, I do make alot of money but I have BIG student debt. : My husband is a SAHD. I graduated lawschool in 2001 and have been at the same firm since. I am very lucky, I have a firm with no face time, I can be flexibly if I need to miss or work from home. I have been part time twice and had two 14 week (all paid) maternity leaves. I am on track for partner still -- not delayed or derailed. So I believe I am very lucky. AT this point, I wouldn't go to a smaller firm (although my firm is probalby mid-sized -- 120 attorneys nationally, four offices, 30 attorneys in my office in Chicago) and I wouldn't go inhouse or government. I need to pay down my school debt and save for my kids' college first. Then I can consider those other options. Also, I really think I need to get more experience to make myself more marketable in-house. If I go in-house to early, there will be a limit as to how high I can rise.

My biggest challenge is time with my family -- I have a long commute. I am trying to shorten my commute and move closer to work, we are in the process of doing that. I am trying very hard to make myself more efficient at work so I don't have to work on the weekends and work in the evenings -- but right now it is Sunday and I am in my basement working. So still struggling with that. Anyway -- this is a great idea to form this tribe.

Any other Chicago mamas?
post #33 of 369
Quote:
Originally Posted by 3cuties View Post
Thank you for starting this thread! I work in a large national firm, I do make alot of money but I have BIG student debt. : My husband is a SAHD. I graduated lawschool in 2001 and have been at the same firm since. I am very lucky, I have a firm with no face time, I can be flexibly if I need to miss or work from home. I have been part time twice and had two 14 week (all paid) maternity leaves. I am on track for partner still -- not delayed or derailed. So I believe I am very lucky. AT this point, I wouldn't go to a smaller firm (although my firm is probalby mid-sized -- 120 attorneys nationally, four offices, 30 attorneys in my office in Chicago) and I wouldn't go inhouse or government. I need to pay down my school debt and save for my kids' college first. Then I can consider those other options. Also, I really think I need to get more experience to make myself more marketable in-house. If I go in-house to early, there will be a limit as to how high I can rise.

My biggest challenge is time with my family -- I have a long commute. I am trying to shorten my commute and move closer to work, we are in the process of doing that. I am trying very hard to make myself more efficient at work so I don't have to work on the weekends and work in the evenings -- but right now it is Sunday and I am in my basement working. So still struggling with that. Anyway -- this is a great idea to form this tribe.

Any other Chicago mamas?
Hey there! Working Sunday today, too, but at the office - no AC at home, and it's a scorcher...besides it's actually easier on dd if I'm at the office rather than "there but not there" at home, lately, I find. I'm also at a large firm (with a fairly good experience), and my partner is a SAHD: that's changing in Sept when he goes back to school, and we're both nervous!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Prairiemother View Post
Thank you for starting this thread. I had been wanting to speak to other lawyers who are also moms.

I live in Canada so my situation might be a little different. I graduated in 2000 and practised family law at a small firm for two years before moving over to the government. Now I work at something quasi-litigious.

How do I manage work and family.... I work part time, only 3 days per week. And I pump at work. Now, that is something that is not particularly appreciated or easy sometimes - I have to go out of town overnight next week to conduct several examinations for discovery (I think you call them depositions?) and I am just wondering exactly how I can break it to the other lawyer, who is male, and his clients, that I NEED to go off on my own for several minutes. I have given up on the idea of being able to use my electric pump and think I will be condemned to a toilet cubicle with my good old manual pump.
For your e/d's, honestly, I'd just say it straight up and let folks know your needs.

They're the other side, rather than anyone at your own work whom you need to impress. If they're modern and reasonable, they'll be a-ok with it, and if they're old and fuddy-duddy, you'll freak them out and be able to enjoy their discomfort.

Where are the e/d's? If they're at a reporter's offices, call ahead and ask them to set aside a spot for you, whether an office or a telephone room or whatever. I'd do whatever I could to use the electric pump, just because otherwise it will take way longer.
post #34 of 369
Quote:
Originally Posted by mammastar2 View Post
Hey there! Working Sunday today, too, but at the office - no AC at home, and it's a scorcher...besides it's actually easier on dd if I'm at the office rather than "there but not there" at home, lately, I find. I'm also at a large firm (with a fairly good experience), and my partner is a SAHD: that's changing in Sept when he goes back to school, and we're both nervous!

I guess it is the way of the trade -- Sundays, evenings - -just part of the game. I think that as long as you have a system down and a support network (for late nights at work/weekends, cleaning, daycare/nanny, etc.) while it will be a transition -- it will work in the end.

In my office alone there are at least 5 lawyer moms who are the sole breadwinners of their family and I know of at least 6 others from my law school class. Just someting I thought was interesting.

For those of you that have nannies -- have you heard of this blog site:

http://www.isawyournanny.blogspot.com/ -- an interesting idea, something good to check out occasionally.
post #35 of 369
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prairiemother View Post
I have to go out of town overnight next week to conduct several examinations for discovery (I think you call them depositions?) and I am just wondering exactly how I can break it to the other lawyer, who is male, and his clients, that I NEED to go off on my own for several minutes. I have given up on the idea of being able to use my electric pump and think I will be condemned to a toilet cubicle with my good old manual pump.

I really like being a lawyer, much more than I liked being a law student (I thought the students at my law school were too much into partying and gossip) but sometimes I fantisize about becoming a lactation consultant - but I could never make as much money, not that I'm particularly greedy but those darn student loans!
Quote:
Originally Posted by mammastar2 View Post
For your e/d's, honestly, I'd just say it straight up and let folks know your needs.

They're the other side, rather than anyone at your own work whom you need to impress. If they're modern and reasonable, they'll be a-ok with it, and if they're old and fuddy-duddy, you'll freak them out and be able to enjoy their discomfort.

Where are the e/d's? If they're at a reporter's offices, call ahead and ask them to set aside a spot for you, whether an office or a telephone room or whatever. I'd do whatever I could to use the electric pump, just because otherwise it will take way longer.
I agree, you may be surprised that they are not only willing to assist you but familiar with your situation. I had been stressed about being in this situation various times, but I have found that being open and not embarrassed has worked to my advantage. Also, before you bring up the topic check out LLL website to understand the protections the law affords you.
post #36 of 369
Hi!

I just finished law school in May and am studying for the bar. I have a seven month old son, and because I wanted to spend quality time with him I was scheduled to do a federal circuit clerkship next year instead of starting at a big firm. Well, surprise surprise and I'm due in January! Because I was going to be my judge's only clerk, and a maternity leave would be espeically hard on him, I felt that I had to resign, which I did, and I am now scheduled to start at a big firm in September.

I'm in the fortunate position of having no law school debt to speak of, because I had a full-tuition scholarship and for my first two years of law school (until I got married I was living with an old lady as a companion and so had minimal living expenses. However, I have a baby and another on the way, we live in one of the highest COL parts of the country, and DH is out of work, so I don't really have a choice about working. I suppose I could have gone to a smaller firm, but I want to practice tax law which is much more interesting at the bigger firms. I also want the option of becoming a SAHM when DS is school-age so I can homeschool (DH and I agree that though I have the vastly greater income potential, I'd also be a more effective SAHP). I'm not sure that once I start working I won't change my mind and make a career out of it, but for now leaving DS is going to be very, very difficult for me.

I went to law school for fun -- my father convinced me to apply, and I got a full scholarship, so why not? I knew I'd enjoy the classes and figured that being debt-free I wouldn't be tied to it when I came out. Now I do feel tied in a way, but I'm kind of looking forward to working. I'm conflicted.

I can't really answer the others because I have to see. I am quite nervous about this job, as I will have to take off copious amounts of time my first month for Jewish holidays and taking maternity leave six months in won't exactly endear me to my colleagues either. (They do know I'm pregnant -- I told them that when I asked if I could move up my start date from 2008 to 2007.) I'm also still pumping for my first baby. The tax department really wanted me to start this fall, and was disappointed when I decided to take the clerkship, but by the time I knew I wanted to start at the firm this fall (when I found out I was pregnant, in May), they had already hired all the first year tax associates they wanted. When I first negotiated with the firm expecting to start in 2008, we talked about my working from home on Fridays, especially in the winter when I would have to leave the office insanely early to get home before sundown. We also talked about my leaving the office at 5:30 and working from home in the evening. Now I don't know how comfortable I'll be being assertive about those things.

Advice any of you seasoned big firm lawyers out there?
post #37 of 369
Quote:
Originally Posted by mammastar2 View Post
Where are the e/d's? If they're at a reporter's offices, call ahead and ask them to set aside a spot for you, whether an office or a telephone room or whatever. I'd do whatever I could to use the electric pump, just because otherwise it will take way longer.
3cuties and Mammastar2 - thank you for your suggestions. The e/ds are at the other lawyer's office. I've been there before, I've met him before, I feel quite uncomfortable about discussing the issue with him. He's fairly young, and there's just something about the dynamic. Makes me feel icky. Perhaps that's weakness on my part, but I feel the less he knows about me, the better. I had to hand-express once all day at a conference when I forgot part of my pump, so I know I can survive. I am quite open with people in my office about pumping, and they are, in principle, supportive.

I realize that some of you are working very long hours. I hope that you find your work rewarding. I used to work long hours when I was in private practise but now I manage to keep mine fairly limited - 7:45 to 4:40 or thereabouts. I have to be very efficient at work, though - but that's good for me because by nature I am very easily distracted and absent-minded. I do miss the variety of work I used to experience, but I would not go back to private practise unless I had to because my husband, too, is a lawyer and our children would never see us otherwise.

Just curious - there have been a few posts mentioning student debt - what is typical student debt in the U.S. after a law degree?
post #38 of 369
I am hoping some of you can guide me on how to lobby to change legislation in the state of Tennessee regarding nursing in public! If you read the latest issue of Mothering, hopefully you are aware that TN state law "protects" a woman's right to breasfeed until the child is 12 months. TN has a weak law protecting breastfeeding, with absolutely no enforcement code. I would like to drastically change our state law. I would love to learn more about the law in Vermont, and propose a change to our state legislature. The first step, I guess, needs to be a mass letter writing campaign in our state. Would anyone want to help me compose a form letter that we could all send to the Governor as well as each local rep? If you want to jump on board, let me know! Let's change the world!!!!
post #39 of 369
[Hi Gethane. How are you? I miss you.]

I took 5 years off after college to knock around a bit and travel before going to law school. I graduated in 1990 at age 30, passed the bar, and have been licensed for 17 years. Holy cow!

I was a prosecutor for 8 years and loved/hated it. Criminal trial work is like junk food. So bad for you, but it tastes so good. Then I took 6 years off lawyering to work at a dot com in a nonlegal capacity. Then DD arrived and I took a year off to be home with her. Then I did part-time criminal defense for 2 years--equally as fun as prosecuting and not nearly as stressful. For the last 6 months I've been a staff attorney for a state government agency.

Work/life balance is ok, although going from part-time to full-time employment as a single mom really kicked my butt. Pay is ok, benefits are ok, we get to telecommute 2 days/week. It's the kind of job I need at this stage of my life, but in my heart of hearts, I really really miss a criminal trial practice. It just requires more time and energy than I'm able to devote right now. Maybe again one day...

Oh, yeah. I loved law school, and I love being a lawyer. I've never thought that going to law school was a waste of time, whether you decided to practice or not. Law school teaches you a way of thinking and communicating that isn't taught elsewhere.
post #40 of 369
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prairiemother View Post
3cuties and Mammastar2 - thank you for your suggestions. The e/ds are at the other lawyer's office. I've been there before, I've met him before, I feel quite uncomfortable about discussing the issue with him. He's fairly young, and there's just something about the dynamic. Makes me feel icky. Perhaps that's weakness on my part, but I feel the less he knows about me, the better. I had to hand-express once all day at a conference when I forgot part of my pump, so I know I can survive. I am quite open with people in my office about pumping, and they are, in principle, supportive.

I realize that some of you are working very long hours. I hope that you find your work rewarding. I used to work long hours when I was in private practise but now I manage to keep mine fairly limited - 7:45 to 4:40 or thereabouts. I have to be very efficient at work, though - but that's good for me because by nature I am very easily distracted and absent-minded. I do miss the variety of work I used to experience, but I would not go back to private practise unless I had to because my husband, too, is a lawyer and our children would never see us otherwise.

Just curious - there have been a few posts mentioning student debt - what is typical student debt in the U.S. after a law degree?
I think it depends. I went to a state school and I was an in-state resident thus I got in-state tuition, I graduated in 2001 with $60k in law school debt. However private school would be a lot more. My alma mater recently raised in-statae tuition so that most people will likely graduate with $100k in debt. These numbers include tuition and living costs.
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