Women Really CAN Have it All – Ridding the Legal Field of “The Mommy” / “Tiger Lady” Oxymoron
Long gone is the notion that a woman’s place is at home. Anne Murphy Brown has had her own success in balancing motherhood with a legal career as a litigator, corporate attorney and currently as an Assistant Professor and Director of Legal Studies at Ursuline College. Anne Murphy Brown finds more than 20 other women who have enjoyed the same successes and profiles them in Legally Mom: Real Women’s Stories of Balancing Motherhood and Law Practice. She does an excellent job in making this book relevant to every woman by carefully selecting a diverse array of women to profile. She finds women practicing at law firms and at governmental agencies. She also profiles women who have started their own law firms, who pursue a legal career from home, and who work as in house counsel at corporations. Each chapter contains a different woman’s personal experience and perspectives in balancing motherhood and her legal career. While all of these women face unique challenges depending on which course of work they pursue in the legal field, a common theme prevails throughout the entire book. The recipe for success of “having it all” is the same: these women have been successful because they have had support, drive, and a realistic grasp on their own personal limitations.
Many of the women within Legally Mom are able to pursue a career and be a mother because they have strong support from their husbands. Their husbands help split the parenting duties allowing the mother to keep up with the demands of her career. Other women profiled are not as lucky, and have to find support outside of the home. Some find support from family members in the form of child care. Others find support from within their workplace through understanding bosses, flexible hours, and policies enacted for mothers within the firm such as paid time off, nursing rooms, and child care offered on the premises. Anne Murphy Brown also provides the reader with a great resource: www.mamalaw.com . This website was created by a group of career moms to serve as a forum for other career moms to lend support to each other.
All the women profiled share a desire to succeed as both a mother and a lawyer. The book demonstrates how women have to fight for their right to pursue a career while being a mother and every woman profiled gives excellent advice as to how to do so. They have to be comfortable in confronting their bosses in order to achieve what they want. In fact, one woman profiled mentions an excellent point that it is to a firm’s detriment to not be flexible for women attorneys. Law firms and companies lose many educated women to motherhood because they do not enact policies that provide for flexibility to pursue both. This interesting perspective gives the reader a great negotiating tool when confronting her employer.
Women who want both a career and to be a mother must still acknowledge that there are limits since there are only 24 hours in a day. The women in the book all prioritize their lives in different ways and give advice as to how to live with the choices they make. In the end, the women do what works best for their own unique situation.
For some women profiled, being a mother and pursuing a legal career was something they always knew they wanted to balance. For other women profiled, being a mother was an afterthought and it was not until they had established themselves within their career did they consider starting their families. Every woman who is considering whether it is possible to be a mother and pursue a legal career should read this book. Every woman who thinks it is impossible to have both should certainly read this book. While woman have a huge task in front of them when deciding to be a mother and a career lady, this book proves it is not impossible. With effective time management, a woman can pursue a successful career and be a good mother. Legally Mom serves to enhance the feeling of female camaraderie in a traditionally male dominated career of law, and will no doubt inspire every reader and continue the movement for change and women empowerment.
Authored by: Heidi R. Wendland