I wanted to be a lawyer from the time I was a little girl. This goal was reinforced by my mother who always told us that it was important to “be someone, before you marry someone.” While it is certainly not necessary to have a job in order to “be someone,” I have always valued the independence that having a career has afforded me.
As a lawyer, wife and mother to three children, I am in two customer service businesses that demand significant time commitments. In the law firm business, it is critical to be available and responsive to clients, but I am also the primary care giver in my family. Starting early in my career, I dealt with the difficulties of balancing my work and home life by structuring a commercial leasing practice that allowed a more flexible schedule.
I wanted to be at my children’s school events and to handle the most challenging and exciting work assignments in my area. As a result, flexibility meant that I could choose to work into the night after my children went to bed. Although it was very challenging, this worked for me. It is important to be realistic about your goals and what you are willing to do to achieve them.
Once you have found a job that fits your needs and goals, try to be an advocate for yourself and for other women. Some people hesitate to work with women on a flexible schedule, but when they do, they are often surprised by the dedication and work ethic of these women. Many will go to extraordinary lengths to ensure that neither clients nor family suffer. It is important to give these women an opportunity to demonstrate their abilities.
I was fortunate to be afforded such opportunities, and as a result I have been able to advance to my current position as head of the commercial leasing practice at my firm. I also have been able to help other women at the firm through my role in the Women’s Network Leadership team.
I am still not certain if I have achieved the right work-life balance, but when I asked my teenage daughter if she thought my working had an adverse effect on her or our family life, she told me that she viewed me as a capable and strong woman and that she respected me and was proud of me.