The Part Time Split

For eight years, I worked as a full-time litigation attorney at a medium sized law firm in downtown Fort Worth while raising my three small children. It felt like a disaster. Every day I felt like the obligations of my existence were busting at the seams as I tried unsuccessfully to balance the demands of being an attorney, a wife, and a mother. About two years ago, I left firm-life for what I thought would be a utopian existence of being a full-time mother and a part-time attorney. My image of paradise was almost immediately shattered by reality. Instead, I found myself juggling the demands of being a full-time mother and a part-time attorney.

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My Age of Enlightenment

I remember the first time I truly felt naïve. It was right before my third year of law school and I was having a conversation with two very good law school friends of mine. One of them was a few weeks pregnant. On-campus interviews were coming up and we were discussing where we were applying, where we’d love to get interviews, and, of course, what we were going to wear. It was during that conversation that my newly-pregnant friend expressed her fears about her pregnancy showing during these interviews. She was afraid, and it turns out rightfully so, that interviewers would be able to tell that she was pregnant and immediately write her off.

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Can women really do it all? Absolutely.

Little mid-week inspiration here—Judge Lindsey Scott is not only the first female district judge in Jefferson County, she is also just 34 years old, a former assistant district attorney, a wife, and mother of 2. Judge Scott was appointed by Governor Perry to replace Judge Layne Walker who retired a full 11 months before the end of his term. During her short term, Judge Scott helped cut the County’s backlog of cases from 500 to 250 cases all while giving birth to a newborn mid-term and continuing to chase around a 3 year old.

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You Have A Baby. In Your Office. (and other maternity leave ideas)

Paid? Unpaid? 4 weeks? 12 weeks? 6 months? Will you be expected to do some work, or can you really just turn off your cell phone and ignore work email for your entire leave? Maternity leave policies can be as varied as the employers who offer them. No matter what your employer offers, actually taking maternity leave can be a challenge in and of itself. I have just completed my second maternity leave, and while each experience has been different, I hope that I can lend some insight to those of you preparing for leaves of your own.

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Your Rights Under FMLA

There are very few laws that most of our clients can cite, but FMLA is one of them. Even if most people don’t know the details, they are typically well-aware that FMLA generally provides for medical leave from a job. Unfortunately, FMLA does not provide the sweeping coverage and benefits that the general public expects. With regard to FMLA, the “devil is in the details”, which is why most people, in my experience, are disappointed and even resentful when they discover that an employer is not subject to FMLA regulations or that their employer is not required to provide paid medical leave.

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Blurred Lines: The Importance of Client Boundaries

I am a family lawyer. Within the first twenty minutes of an initial conversation with a client, he has usually discussed more intimate details with the complete stranger across the table from him than he has discussed with his own spouse during their entire marriage. This new client believes his attorney is supposed to give guidance on how to “handle” this tumultuous and uncertain time in his life. His attorney is supposed to help him answer all of the questions, including how to respond to the late night text message that he is certain was sent to create a new problem in his already troubled communication with his wife. But if I do a poor job of establishing effective boundaries at the outset of the lawyer-client relationship then I quickly become the one getting late night texts from a troubled client asking questions about how this latest voicemail will affect him in Court.

If I do a poor job of establishing effective boundaries at the outset of the lawyer-client relationship then I quickly become the one getting late night texts from a troubled client asking questions about how this latest voicemail will affect him in Court.

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Leading Ladies: Elizabeth Campbell

I attended a women’s event recently—just another luncheon for a good cause, but I made an incredible observation. The women who were most engaged in talking about their various charities and all of the non-profit work they managed to fit into their very busy professional lives, were women of the Baby Boomer generation. Either they had no children to begin with, or their children were away at college or had moved on to their own adult lives. Conversely, one young mother of two—or was it one mother of two young children?—noted that she simply did not have time to volunteer for non-profits; she would rather spend her precious “free” time with her children. To be sure, the “Gen X” or “Gen Y” discussion was quite different from that of my Baby Boomer peers.

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From the Guy’s Side: What is “Success”?

At my firm job, the path to “success” was well-defined. Bust your hump, bill a ton of hours, do good work, and after 8 or 9 or 10 years, you reach the brass ring that is partnership. After a couple of years on this track, though, my wife and I had our first child. I struggled with how best to reconcile my personal goal of spending as much quality time as possible with my growing family, with my professional goal of “succeeding” in a big firm. I did some soul searching, and I came out of it with a new, personal definition of “success.”

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