This column is a shout out to all single working mothers in the legal field!
Sex and the City's Miranda Hobbes had it all and kept it all together — a partner at a law firm, had enough time to shop, eat brunch and date all the wrong guys — that is until she had a baby. No doubt you may recall what Miranda (or any new mother) looked like when she first tried to juggle all these balls — her son, her friends, her job and her dates. Everything fell apart. If a Harvard educated lawyer can unravel, that doesn’t leave much hope for the rest of us!
But, being our legal heroine that she is, she eventually managed to pull it together. How may you ask was she able to do this? While some of you may say that Sex and the City was a fictional TV show that ignored reality, that’s not necessarily the case. Many law firms have actually (finally) started to recognize the pressures female attorneys face, especially those who are single and raising children. The truth is that for a “wonder woman” working mom in a demanding professional field, the most difficult part of her life may not be the actual work she is doing, but rather balancing career with family and personal life.
Some law firms really have gone above and beyond in acknowledging the challenges single women face and appreciating the work they do. The law firms who made the “Best Law Firms for Women” (chosen by Working Mother Magazine) have created innovative programs to help single moms maintain their tight multi-tasking schedules, so they can easier manage their many responsibilities. You can check out these firms by clicking here.
Bottom Line: Although these winning firms have taken a great initiative to keep their talented working mothers on staff, there is still much work to be done in order to truly level the playing field. For example, in the past 15 years, over half of law school graduates have been women; however, women make up only 16 percent of law firms’ partners (those who share in the firm’s profits).
Furthermore, there has been a mass exodus of female attorneys from law firms as the required number of billable hours is on the rise. In fact, the number of female associates leaving law firms is at a record high in the past five years. So while these landmark programs implemented by the “Best Law Firms for Women” are great first steps, much more is necessary. Hopefully the efforts of these open-minded firms will serve to encourage other law firms to follow suit!
• For more on this subject, click here to read a previous column, Are Single Women Closing the Wage Gap?
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Lis Wiehl joined FOX News Channel as a legal analyst in October 2001. She is currently a professor of law at the New York Law School. Wiehl received her undergraduate degree from Barnard College in 1983 and received her Master of Arts in Literature from the University of Queensland in 1985. In addition, she earned her Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School in 1987. Lis is also the author of The 51% Minority — How Women Still Are Not Equal and What You Can Do About It. (Watch the Video) To read the rest of Lis's bio, click here.