Full Time Practice

Friday, August 1, 2014

A Mother's Ambitions

(This article was suggested by Angel Zimmerman, a WIL Committee member and JRCLS Kansas City Chapter Chair elect.)

I read this article recently and thought you might enjoy it as much as I did. It was written by Yael Chatov Schonbrun, a psychologist and assistant professor of psychology and human behavior at Brown University.  She entitled it "A Mother's Ambitions".

It hits home on numerous fronts.  I know I have felt so many of the things she expressed. I'll give you a few excerpts:

I felt like a constant disappointment. I felt the ever present pressure of needing to be writing a new grant or paper, needing to keep up on the literature. And I hated knowing that my mentors and colleagues were not terribly impressed with me anymore.

Spending more time with my child wasn’t my only consideration in what to do with my career. There was also my identity (who was I, if not a clinical psychologist and researcher and a generally ambitious person?), my sanity (could I really be home with a baby every day?), and the practical matter of my family’s finances (my income was needed to maintain our lifestyle). So finally, after months of agonizing, I made a decision: to back down, but not bail out.

[M]y productivity within each role is limited. My kids are probably the most satisfied — they enjoy our days home together, and they also love going to day care with their friends. But my patients get frustrated with my limited availability, and my colleagues at the university sometimes seem baffled by my desire to stay in academia in a way that is not particularly ambitious or impressive.

The real problem, however, is me. I certainly wish that I didn’t still feel like a postdoctoral fellow, salary-wise, after the ridiculous number of years of school I’ve completed, and I wish that my house and lifestyle weren’t so much smaller and simpler than those of my close friends who stayed on competitive career tracks. More painful, though, is sitting in on a research meeting, listening to my colleagues bounce around new project ideas and talk about complex data analytics or new methods of biological verification of substance use that can be incorporated into grant applications. Where I used to feel like a member of the group, and a leader on some projects, I now feel a half step behind.

[A]mbition makes our world move forward. But could it be possible that greatness can also mean finding ways to increase the amount of happiness in the world, even if that work happens on a tiny stage that can be seen and applauded by few, except perhaps by a pudgy 1-year-old and a chatty 4-year-old?

If you'd like to read the entire article, which I hope you will, you can find it at A Mother's Ambition.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The "GET List" to Beat Fatigue

(Written by Desiree Nordstrom, a WIL Committee member.)

Do you ever feel so exhausted that you fear if you sit down, you might not be able to get back up? Or do you ever wake up in the morning and find yourself looking forward to bedtime? This is often the new normal for a working mother. 

Even after the years of sleepless nights that come with having young children, it feels like our bodies continue to operate in an auto-piloted, zombie mode. But frankly, when we examine the facts, most working moms are pretty darn good at operating in zombie mode while still producing high quality work. Sound familiar?

We all know that if mom goes down…the entire family goes down. Here is a go-to “GET List” for ensuring that you not only are able to function properly, but also to give your fatigued body a jump start.

-Get 8 hours of sleep every night – The exact amount of sleep might vary person to person. Find that “must have” amount for you…and protect that time.

-Get some physical activity – Whether you stop at the gym on the way to work or you take a 10 Tips minute break from working from home to push your child in a stroller around the neighborhood. Getting movement in will fight the fatigue by boosting your energy.

-Get organized – The more organized you are, the more efficiently you can complete your tasks, thus freeing yourself to focus on other things. Did someone say nap?

-Get more sunlight – Open the curtains – Sunlight provides our bodies with vitamin D, which contributes to peak energy levels.

-Get down more water – Do you hydrate your body enough to keep it running properly? Breathing, talking, typing, even sitting - uses up your body’s water supply thus causing dehydration which causes a serious loss of energy, as well as other problems.

-Get down the proper amount of food – Do not skip meals, nor eat too much. Neither extreme is worth losing the energy that is required to meet and complete your responsibilities. Great energy producing foods include berries, fish, eggs, yogurt, almonds, carrots, whole grains, and anything high in fiber, but I suspect you already know this.

-Get water on your face – Splash your face – It is something so simple, but studies have shown that splashing cool water on your face may restore energy even faster than other options.

-Get a massage – Yes, I just gave you permission. A massage can counter anxiety, headaches and fatigue. Go for it, and if anyone questions you, have them call me.

-Get some atmosphere going – Tickle your ears and nose – Play some upbeat music and fill the air with a smell that invigorates. An uplifting atmosphere is energizing. Have fresh flowers in your work area, they gladden the heart and strengthen the spirit.

-Get a smile on your face and have a good laugh, even if you force it – Science has documented that smiling and laughing, release endorphins which, as you know, make us feel happier and less stressed by reducing the stress hormone cortisol. Laughing expands the lungs and replenishes the cells, as well as releases suppressed emotions. Smiling attracts people to you, and stimulates a positive attitude, all of which not only increases your energy, but also spreads happiness to others.  

If you have any other tips for fighting fatigue, I would love to hear what has worked for you.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A Resource for Strength and Direction

(Written by Nan Barker, WIL Committee chair.)

Members of the International Women in Law Committee have been participating in a leadership training program.  It includes reading, writing, mentoring, etc.  One of the assignments has been to read the second volume of "Life in the Law".

"Life in the Law" is a three volume set of talks given by a variety of people and compiled by the J. Reuben Clark Law School.  The first volume is entitled "Answering God's Interrogatories", the second is "Service and Integrity" and the third is "Religious Conviction". You can access all three volumes by going to this site: Life in the Law.

"Service and Integrity" is broken up into four sections: Be Ethical, Be Healers, Be Professional and Be Servants.  Talks were contributed by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Judge Thomas B. Griffith, Professor Cole Durham, Elder Neal A. Maxwell and Kenneth W. Starr, to name a few.

This month's assignment was to read "Be Healers".  The talks were insightful and grounding.  Some highlights for me from President James E. Faust's talk, "Be Healers" were the following:

"To be fully successful in the law, one does not have to be brilliant or exceptionally gifted.  The most effective work of the world is done by ordinary people who put forth extraordinary effort."

"The kind of a lawyer you are depends in large measure upon your character.  If you are going to point the way, you need to be more than skilled advocates  You need to be decent human beings trying to solve problems.  You need to be teachers as well as advocates and draftsmen."

"Before the wounds of injustice can heal, there must first come a feeling of peace.  So, in a sense, a lawyer who helps make peace becomes something of a healer."

Check out "Life in the Law".  You, and those with whom you associate, will benefit because of it.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Some Thoughts On Womanhood

(Written by Deborah Hendrickson, WIL Committee vice-chair.)

I was recently studying and preparing to present a lesson on “The Divine Nature of Womanhood”.  As is usually the case, I am sure that I  learned more through my preparation than anyone who heard the lesson I presented.  

Some of the quotes that I came across seemed particularly insightful about women and I wanted to share a few of them.

First, the importance of being there for each other as women:

To be sisters implies that there is an unbreakable bond between us. Sisters take care of each other, watch out for each other, comfort each other, and are there for each other through thick and thin. The Lord has said, “I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine.

The adversary would have us be critical or judgmental of one another. He wants us to concentrate on our differences and compare ourselves to one another. You may love to exercise vigorously for an hour each day because it makes you feel so good, while I consider it to be a major athletic event if I walk up one flight of stairs instead of taking the elevator.  We can still be friends, can’t we?
Bonnie Isaacson, “Sisterhood:  Oh How We Need Each Other”, April 2014, Ensign Magazine

Second, regarding decisions about motherhood, family, education and career:

These are very emotional, personal decisions, but there are two principles that we should always keep in mind. First, no woman should ever feel the need to apologize or feel that her contribution is less significant because she is devoting her primary efforts to raising and nurturing children. Nothing could be more significant in our Father in Heaven’s plan. Second, we should all be careful not to be judgmental or assume that sisters are less valiant if the decision is made to work outside the home. We rarely understand or fully appreciate people’s circumstances. Husbands and wives should prayerfully counsel together, understanding they are accountable to God for their decisions.

.  . . I would hope that Latter-day Saints would be at the forefront in creating an environment in the workplace that is more receptive and accommodating to both women and men in their responsibilities as parents.
Neil L. Andersen, “LDS Women Are incredible! “, April 2011, Ensign Magazine

And finally an uplifting message from Gordon B. Hinckley, past President and Prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints:

 Of all the creations of the Almighty, there is none more beautiful, none more inspiring than a lovely daughter of God who walks in virtue with an understanding of why she should do so, who honors and respects her body as a thing sacred and divine, who cultivates her mind and constantly enlarges the horizon of her understanding, who nurtures her spirit with everlasting truth. 
 Gordon B. Hinckley, “Our Responsibility to Our Young Women,” Sept. 1988, Ensign Magazine

Monday, June 9, 2014

Federal Bar Association Women in Law Conference

(Information provided by Angel Zimmerman, a WIL Committee member.)

"The Federal Bar Association’s inaugural Women in the Law Conference will be held on Friday, July 11, 2014, at the George Washington University, Marvin Center in Washington, D.C. 

"The Federal Bar Association is the premiere U.S. bar association for federal court practitioners. This inaugural conference will address the topic of women in the law broadly from both a historical perspective and how the law impacts women."  

To find out more about the Conference, please go to:  http://www.fedbar.org/Education/Calendar-CLE-events/Women-in-the-Law.aspx.

To get a flavor for the Conference, please watch this 3 minute video prepared by the Conference organizers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dcgJndMz1M.

Thanks for the info, Angel.  If anyone attends the Conference, let us know and we'll have you write a blog post about your experience.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Don't "Fix the Woman", Instead Promote Based on Performance

(Written by Desiree Nordstrom, a WIL Committee member.)

And so it continues, the gender gap is alive and well in the legal world. Many industries have put men and women on equal playing fields, but not in the field of law. According to the National Association of Women Lawyers Survey in 2014, the top 200 law firms in the United States recruit more than 60% female law graduates and less than 40% male graduates. Yet, the percentage of female partners in the top 100 US law firms is at a staggering 17%.

According to an HBR Blog Network post by Avivah Wittenberg-Cox, CEO of the gender consulting firm 20-first, The No. 5 law firm in France, TAJ is gender-balanced at the level of equity partnerships, governance committees and all other levels.[1] This firm is led by a man, Gianmarco Monsellato. The key to TAJ’s success is to promote people on performance.

Gianmarco Monsellaato
The apparent disparity is an issue of leadership. For Monsellato, he decided to take it personally. That meant making case assignments to lawyers fairly. For many years, he was the only person making those assignments. He was also involved in every discussion of promotion. Further, Monsellato tracked compensation levels of those promoted to ensure equality. He assigned some of his best female lawyers on the firm’s toughest cases. If a client had a problem with a lead female attorney, Monsellato asked for three months for the attorney to prove herself.  On every case, the female attorney overwhelming won the approval of her client, and overcame the initial gender bias.

According to the article, Monsellato’s approach is “dramatically [different] than most law firms. Most of his competitors have spent years organizing women’s initiatives, networks, or mentoring programs that have done little to increase the percentage of women reaching the top.” Monsellato states the key is the “tone from the top.”  It is as simple as promoting based on performance.

[1] http://blogs.hbr.org/2014/05/how-one-law-firm-maintains-gender-balance/

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Starting Something New

(Written by Emily Adams, a WIL blog post follower who was willing to write a post for us.)

This past August, I finished clerking on the Federal District Court for the District of Minnesota and had my second child. Knowing that I would be recovering for several months and that I would be leaving Minnesota for Utah in the spring, I decided to forego looking for traditional law firm employment in Minnesota. Instead, I contacted several attorneys in my area and asked if they would have contract work available for the few months that I had left in Minnesota.

One attorney said yes. We entered into a very flexible arrangement. She had recently started up her own law firm after spending several years at a class-action plaintiff’s employment law firm. Because her firm was so new, she needed someone who was not a fixed cost and could do work on an as-needed basis. I became a part-time employee who did work as it came in. I also did all my work remotely. This attorney had her client files on the cloud, so I could access whatever I needed whenever I needed it, and I communicated with her via email and phone. This arrangement allowed me to bring in some income while spending substantial amounts of time with my young children.

I was very lucky to find this attorney. I did what I loved—research and writing—and I even got to take two depositions and do one oral argument. I felt like a valued member of the firm, even though I was rarely if ever in the office.

I realized while I was working for this attorney that there is a need among solo and small law firms for people who could do I what I was doing—as-needed, project-based work. When a solo or a small firm gets hit with several big motions, they need assistance so that they can produce quality, accurate work in a short timeframe. I also recognized that with the technology as it is today, working remotely is a viable option. And I appreciated the flexibility and control I had over my schedule.

While I was working for this attorney, I looked at and talked to big and medium-sized law firms in Salt Lake, anticipating that I would join one of them once I moved to Utah. But after a few months and a few bumps, I realized that I really liked what I was already doing for this attorney. And I wanted to expand it into a larger practice. I had heard of contract or freelance attorneys. In fact, a few freelance attorneys in Minnesota bound together and formed a support group for freelance attorneys called the Minnesota Freelance Attorney Network. I spoke with them about how and why they chose to freelance. One was a part-time freelancer because she had small children at home. Another transitioned from being a career judicial law clerk and found freelancing and running her own firm more fulfilling than being at a large law firm.

So I decided that when I moved to Utah, I would start up a freelance and appellate law firm (I chose appellate law because my first judicial clerkship was on the Minnesota Court of Appeals, I loved appellate law, and schedules are less hectic on the appellate level). I am in Utah now and am excited and slightly terrified about the future. But I am thrilled at the prospect of building a practice while being able to balance it with my family.