June 29, 2015 Practice Points

Creating and Maintaining Work/Life Balance

By Jessica Jernigan-Johnson

In the recent article “The Work/Life Conundrum: Trying to Be Super Mom and Super Lawyer,” author Katherine Maloney Perch, a partner in Quarles & Brady’s Commercial Litigation Practice Group, provides tips for women who are trying to balance the roles of mother and attorney. 

The article first notes the challenges associated with balancing motherhood with a legal career. The challenges of providing premier client service, billable hour requirements, and the need to build and maintain strong client relationships can make raising a family difficult.  In addition, the rise of technology has also made attorneys available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, which has made it much more difficult to set boundaries between work and family life. 
As a result, women are leaving the legal profession in high numbers. Perch notes that “women make up almost 50 percent of law school graduates, and yet only 17 percent attain equity partnership in law firms.” 

To combat this exodus, Perch offers several tips for creating and maintaining life/work balance. These include finding a life partner willing to dedicate equal time to parenting, creating a support system at both work and home, and avoiding “Super Mom Syndrome.” She also discusses the importance of finding a firm that truly supports maternity and paternity leave and finding an internal champion who can serve as a mentor both professionally and personally. Finally, she stresses the importance of women taking care of themselves through regular exercise, doctor’s appointments, and time for themselves. 
Overall, Perch notes that balancing a legal career and a family will not be easy, but that it is important for the legal profession to find a way to encourage women to find that balance. She notes “[w]e’ve got to find a way to do better—so that women can be moms and lawyers and not be forced to choose between the two.”

Keywords: litigation, woman advocate, law firms, work-life balance, women

Jessica Jernigan-Johnson works at Bradley Arant Boult Cummings, LLP in Nashville, Tennessee

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