Lawyer or Mom: Choose only one?, written by Amy Impellizzeri of The Glass Hammer, addresses the ongoing debate of whether women can be both successful mothers and successful lawyers. It states that female Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and nominee Elena Kagan are unmarried and childless, which has many commentators speculating about the choices women today must make in order to achieve heights in their chosen careers, particularly in the legal field.
Perhaps a better question is, “Law Firm Partner or Mom?”. An attorney does not have to practice in a large firm to be successful, whether male or female. There are many attorneys who, for example, sit on boards of directors, judicial offices, or are executives, politicians, writers, etc. Female attorneys are, and have likely always been, a remarkably resourceful group. This is especially true of female attorneys in top law firms, since top firms take only top students from top schools. Because female attorneys in top firms are intelligent, resourceful, and successful professionally and academically, these women will look critically at their career and family options. These are the women who, by nature of their hard work and sacrifices just to land in top law firms, have the skills to determine whether they want to fit motherhood into their career, or vice versa. These women know what their options are, and that those options differ for everyone depending on employer flexibility and outside support systems. These women will hopefully define their successes not only by the title they can achieve within an established framework, but will actually create their own framework and redefine their success as a career path that allows them to skillfully practice law and fulfill their personal, social, and family needs.
The article also highlights Carol Fishman Cohen who is well-known for helping women relaunch their careers after breaks to raise children:
Consider also the lawyer moms who continue to take hiatuses from huge billables and grueling work schedules to raise their young children before returning with vigor to rewarding and successful careers. Carol Fishman Cohen, co-author of Back on the Career Track: A Guide for Stay-at-Home Moms Who Want to Return to Work, has made it a personal mission to bring recognition to success stories of women in all fields, including the legal field, who relaunch their careers after multi-year breaks…Of course, it would be helpful to give those hiatuses the same publicity we give the choices made by successful women like Kagan and Sotomayor.
Montage Legal Group shares Carol Fishman Cohen’s vision, and strives to assist female attorneys in continuing their legal practice while they care for young children, as well as to support those relaunching their careers. Cohen recently profiled Montage Legal Group’s Kandy Williams as a “success story” on her website. Kandy left Brobeck Phleger & Harrison to raise her children. She relaunched her legal practice after 7 years out of the work-force, and joined Montage Legal Group’s network of freelance attorneys.
This debate certainly will not end anytime soon. Female attorneys at top firms have certainly made many personal sacrifices to achieve their success, which has many benefits to all female attorneys. But success at a law firm, with or without children, is not the only option. Creative, intelligent, and skilled female attorneys have alternatives to making the choice between career and law, and Montage Legal Group is honored to be a part of it.