Last October, Rodolfo A. Ruiz II, U.S. district judge for the Southern District of Florida, and his law clerk, Fabiana Cohen, wrote a commentary for the National Law Journal about how they are redefining work for lawyer moms.
Cohen, who has three daughters under age 5, had lamented that “by placing too much emphasis on requirements that young lawyers be in the office at all hours of the day, supervisors inadvertently discourage qualified primary caregivers from pursuing valuable opportunities like clerkships.”
“It is incumbent upon employers to stop promoting the idea that the best lawyers are those who are in the office around the clock,” they wrote.
“From the start, Fabiana was unafraid to share that she hoped to make it to dinner every night with her family and, frankly, I was equally motivated to get home to see my young children before their bedtime,” Ruiz added.
“Until we discard the false dichotomy between being an effective and diligent lawyer and an available parent, highly qualified candidates will continue to be marginalized in our legal profession,” they concluded.
Ruiz had the opportunity to expand on this as a panelist on “Men in the Mix: How to Engage Men on Issues Related to Gender in the Profession” at the American Bar Association Midyear Meeting in Austin, Texas.
“We are boxing out young parents, young women who want to try to strike this balance,” he said.
Ruiz’s support and approach to work is key, said Anne Collier, CEO and certified professional coach at Arudia in Washington, D.C. “You have to make it that family obligations are normal regardless of your gender.”
The program, sponsored by the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession, and part of the Defending Liberty, Pursuing Justice Summit, shared the preliminary results of focus groups convened in New York, Dallas and San Francisco that were designed to delve into the psychology behind engaging male colleagues as partners for women’s success.
Collier presented the research, the results of which included: