Women lawyers – juggling roles
A Google search for statistics on women solicitors will tell you that over half of new lawyers are women but far fewer than this number are reaching the top of the profession. The reasons for this may be several but at least one is glaringly obvious. Those of us who have worked hard to qualify and then try to practise while looking after a family know all too well that juggling a legal career and caring responsibilities is hard.
My own story is characterised by what you might call extreme juggling. Soon after qualifying into criminal practice I was made redundant. I was the lone parent of a little boy who found school challenging and it wasn’t long before I was faced with an enormous decision. I took my teenage son out of school to home educate him, working as hard as I could to make ends meet by freelancing. Somehow, with family support and willpower, we managed. But as my son needed me less, my disabled mother needed me more. I swapped one caring role for another and the juggling became, if anything, more difficult.
Things are slightly different now, with my son at College and my mother needing professional care, but my hands-on support has been replaced by dealings with Social Services, care homes and agencies and the day to day administration of almost every aspect of my mother’s life.
As you might imagine, it takes imagination and innovation to manage such a portfolio of roles. Not to mention determination and courage!
Luckily for the profession as a whole and younger women lawyers, some larger firms are employing imagination and innovation themselves to ensure gender equality and family friendliness. On 7th March I will be attending this event at the Law Society where a panel will discuss technological advances, inclusive leadership and family friendly policies.
If you are a female lawyer I’d like to hear from you for my own research. How have you had to be creative and innovative to balance your career and family. Has it worked? What has gone wrong? What would you change if you could go back? What would you ask for if you could have changes to your work/life situation?
Let’s share what we have learned, Please do comment below or inbox or email me if you would be willing to tell me about your own experience. As much or as little as you like. I won’t quote or name you unless you want me to.
Looking forward to hearing from you; thank you!