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Life of a Law Student, University of Houston Law Center

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Part-time Lawyer, Full-time Mother

By: Luke Gilman | Other Posts by
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Big law firms are not known as great places to work for women in general, particularly so for women who are trying to balance work and family. The arguments for why this is the case oscillate from the questions of why Big Law Los[es] Women Lawyers to Other Jobs and Why Do So Few Women Reach the Top of Big Law Firms?

There are some exceptions which may give us hope for a change in the legal environment that is more compatible with family life for both women and men. Legal Times profiles Sidley Austin partner Virginia Seitz in How One Part-Time Lawyer Leads a Very Full Life.

Although Seitz defines herself as part time, this is the reality: She’s in the firm’s Washington, D.C., office every day at 6 a.m. and leaves by 2:55 p.m. to pick up her children, 12-year-old Roy and 15-year-old Miranda, from school. That’s a nine-hour day and a 45-hour week. Only a big law firm would call that “part time.”

Sietz’s unique way of balancing motherhood and life in a law firm seemed to come about unexpectedly. She was at first surprised at the intensity of her desire to be with her children and provide the kind of engaged parenting she experienced. At the same time she loved her job. While Sietz cites sacrifices and compromises that must be made, all in all, it signals a positive direction among some firms toward a more family-friendly work environment.

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One Response

  1. PT-LawMom says:

    Every female attorney I have spoken with says that she wishes she set these boundaries early and often. Once you put in 18-hour days for three years, they expect that level of commitment forever. It’s easier if, from the get-go, you try to carve out time for things that matter to you. It could be yoga, time with a pet, dates with your spouse, etc., but there needs to be boundaries. Not sure if this is easier said than done, especially as BigLaw firms raise to $160k and expect your soul in return. Perhaps in mid-sized firms….

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