Monday, August 17, 2009

Work Life Balance

I thought about that article from last week about the best law firms for mothers or other J.D. folks who want a work-life balance. If you read the whole article, or paid attention to the parts I excerpted and read between the lines, you may have noticed that part-time for lawyers is a 40 hour week. And that the lawyers who took time off when their babies were born were sort of under a bit of obligation at some firms to pay back their group by coming back big time when the babies were little (and wouldn't notice that mommy wasn't there). Then, they could be home when the kids were big enough to articulate complaints as they got older, or when Mom got worried in the teen years.

I am not sure that this really constitutes any kind of excellent work-parenting balance. I don't want to guilt-trip anybody who really prefers to work. Not every body is cut out to stay home with babies or toddlers. A lot of kids are better off when Mommy goes out to work and leaves them with a really good child care arrangement. If a parent is really unhappy about being the primary care-giver, it spills over on the kid, and that's not good. But IF you really wanted to be home, and this is the arrangement you got offered, this is not a very good deal.

I am watching from a distance as my sister-in-law, who is a doctor, works "part-time" so that she can juggle parenting a little better and take better care of her own health. Hah! I say, and wish she lived closer. "Part-time" doctoring, after she finishes filling out the paper work at the end of the day is also about 40 hours a week.

As I read the article about the best law firms, at first I was wondering if that pool of lawyers who leave practice to become clinical profs, legal writing faculty and librarians would dry up.... By the time I thought this over, I kind of doubt it.

1 comment:

Jim Milles said...

Did you see the blog post on idealawg: "Permanent section status granted by AALS to Balance in Legal Education: Not everyone approves"?

According to Gretchen Duhaime,
"The Section aims to maximize the health, well-being and career satisfaction of law students and lawyers."

On the other hand, Scott Greenfield is skeptical: "Like so many contentions that are politically popular but nonsensical, the words strung together not only fail to make a cognizable sentence, but appear to be facially contradictory. How does career satisfaction lead to a high level of professionalism? I don't know either. Both are nice phrases, but there's no logical nexus between them.... Balance means the antithesis of professional responsibility; it's the right to only have to be professional when it's convenient, so that one can enjoy whatever life has to offer whenever one wants to, professional responsibility be damned." Beats me where he gets that definition of "balance." Greenfield's noise sounds like the same Humpty Dumpty-like selective redefinition of words the right-wingers came up with for "empathy" just a few weeks ago.