This week, I wanted my column to address the elephant in the room: the recent ABA Journal article regarding the careers of women lawyers and the personal outrage I felt in reading it. As a career expert, advocate, and fellow woman lawyer, the hardest pill to swallow was the overwhelming message of being anti-family in order to be pro-career.
The article stands against everything women are still fighting for in today’s workforce. Its views are archaic. It’s not just an attack on women lawyers who are mothers, but an attack on women lawyers as a whole. At a time where the #MeToo movement is so prevalent in the work environment, where social equality is a basic tenet of what women lawyers passionately advocate for, and in a pivotal time where we just swore-in the first woman vice president of our country, the article is simply tone deaf in the year 2021.
The author’s prior articles state a need for gender equity in law firms, yet this article degrades and insults lawyer moms, mentioning that they are “so stretched” and “overscheduled” because they are exhausted, and as a result, they sacrifice “good performance.” She questions their ability to succeed as dedicated career women while being dedicated parents.
Rather than discussing ways firms and companies can better support lawyer moms, such as creating nursing suites for those who need to pump, developing better maternity leave options that honor women entering motherhood in those first vital months, or even implementing flexible work hours and better options that support quality family health care, the author opens the door to the misogynistic undertones of what women lawyers face on a daily basis: a consistent fight for gender equity as it relates to leadership, promotions, pay, and respect in the legal profession. Instead, the article serves to keep women lawyers down on the “promotion ladder” at law firms if they choose to be a parent.
If anything, the past many months of the pandemic have showed the world how difficult it is to balance work, parenting, and life in general. COVID-19 has caused lawyer moms to restrategize and pivot into uncharted territory, putting a strain on their mental health from having to balance homeschooling children with the demands of lawyering full-time. It should be applauded not condemned.
The article also overlooks something else: not all women lawyers or lawyer moms desire to make partner at a law firm. Success means something different to everyone. Upward mobility can mean finding a position as a corporate counsel or compliance officer, or even a job outside of the practice of law that fulfills you, drives your passion, and creates more personal happiness.
If you’re a lawyer mom who feels insulted, angered, and saddened by the article, know there are many who see you, who stand by you, and who support you and all you’re doing.
It’s time to stop saying women can’t have a career and be a parent.
It’s time to stop paying women less in law firms or at companies and instead, put more women on hiring committees and increase diversity in law firms, corporations, and boards of directors.
It’s time we fully support women who are shattering glass ceilings and making a difference for others through their work.
It’s time for women lawyers to raise the vibration of our voices to promote, advance, and celebrate our legal careers. After all, Ruth Bader Ginsburg would want us to continue walking the path she paved for us.
Wendi Weiner is an attorney, career expert, and founder of The Writing Guru, an award-winning executive resume writing services company. Wendi creates powerful career and personal brands for attorneys, executives, and C-suite/Board leaders for their job search and digital footprint. She also writes for major publications about alternative careers for lawyers, personal branding, LinkedIn storytelling, career strategy, and the job search process. You can reach her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, connect with her on LinkedIn, and follow her on Twitter @thewritingguru.