There’s No One Blueprint for Juggling Career and Family
I was promoted to partner at a top law firm eight months after returning from maternity leave following the birth of my youngest child. It was my third maternity leave in six years; my first child was born two years after I graduated law school. My impression was that many women in the male-dominated world of complex commercial litigation opted to wait until later in their careers to have children, often until after they were elected partner. Making partner on the same track as my peers after having three children was virtually unheard of. I am fortunate to work at a firm, and have mentors, who recognized my hard work and the important contributions I have made to my cases.
I was raised and live in an Orthodox Jewish community, where women traditionally marry and have children early. Many choose to stay at home full time, and those who do work outside the home generally opt for part-time careers with flexible schedules. I wanted a career I was passionate about, while remaining committed to my family and community.
There was no blueprint for juggling family and community involvement with my sixty- to eighty-hour workweek. At work, I had to demonstrate to my firm and our clients that I was committed to winning cases. At home, I needed to be available to my husband and children, and active in my community. I’m a multitasker by nature, so I’ve learned to prioritize what’s most important, while working with my colleagues and husband to balance the rest.
Finding my appropriate balance of career, family, and community has not been without obstacles. As an associate, I missed an opportunity to argue an important motion, when a hearing was rescheduled for the week my second child was born. Recently, I missed a family vacation during the trial of a case that I had spent ten years working on. The trial, which resulted in a jury verdict in favor of our client, has been one of the highlights of my career, and something that my family is immensely proud of.
The definition of and path to success is different for everyone. I hope my journey shows other women that there is no one-size-fits-all solution, and that it can serve as a model for the next generation of women who want to build rewarding careers, without losing sight of the importance of family and community.