Monday, April 5, 2010

Lawyer-Mom...sounds like a real Super Hero to me!

The year I started law school marked the first in which there was an even split of men and women in the classroom. Like so many other fields, most of the faces coming to interview us were older men (almost exclusively white), wearing suits and talking about the promise of a great career in law. They kept telling us that things had finally evened out - thank God for Title 9 we'd think - we're actually going to be "equals" in this field. We young wannabe lawyer women really felt like the world was at our feet - glass ceilings be damned, we're rocketing up there with our helmets on ready to smash through any barrier you put in our way...or so we thought.
Now, some 15 years later, I reflect back on all the women I graduated with and I wonder - how many of you are still out there practicing law and fighting the good fight? NOT MANY!
I don't have a scientific study to back this up, but my own non-scientific research tells me that being a lawyer is not a good career choice for women who "want it all." The balance of work and family life people talk about - that doesn't exist for lawyers. And so, at this point in my life, only a small select few of my female law school colleagues are partners in firms pulling in the big bucks. Let me explain why.

Law firms based their expectations and salaries and bonuses and entire worlds around the "billable hour." There's always a yearly minimum - call it 2000 hours - that attorneys are required to meet to keep their jobs. At first glance, this requirement seems rather reasonable - 40 hours a week for 50 weeks out of the year - no problem, right?

WRONG - the "billable hour" bears little resemblance to its distant cousin the "actual hour." Actual hours consist of bathroom breaks, lost pens, texts about where to have lunch, coffee, phone calls from your mom and even the occasional drop-in from your office neighbor complaining about the fat guy who always seems to pass gas right in front of her door. The actual hour contains the 15 minutes it takes to remember exactly how long it took to finalize the draft of the memo you were working on to complete your last "billable hour." The actual includes a few minutes between billable hours to remind yourself that there is a world outside your 10 x 10 office that does indeed contain sunlight, breezes, changing weather, non-lawyers, and even fun! The billable hour contains none of the above!

1 comment:

  1. so it's a billable and not an actual life.


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