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For this installment of our Week in the Life of a Working Mom series, we’re happy to introduce CorporetteMoms reader Liz, who lives in the Midwest with her husband and two kids and works part time as a Biglaw lawyer.
Our usual caveat applies: Please remember that this is is a real person who has feelings and isn’t gaining anything from this, unlike your usual friendly (soul-deadened, thick-skinned, cold-hearted, money-grubbing) blogger — so please be kind with any comments. Thank you! — Kat
First, Some Basics About This Working Mom…
Job: Biglaw lawyer [part-time hours]
Home Situation: 36-year-old nurse turned lawyer, married to a physician entrepreneur. We both work from home, usually 20–30 hrs./week each, two kids ages 22 months and 5 months (boy and girl). Kids each have their own room and we have our own offices, and a guest room, pet cat, and goldendoodle.
Childcare Situation: Home daycare five minutes away, lots of grandparent help and two babysitters on call as well; will transition to daycare center when kids are 2.5.
Childcare Costs: Currently $175/week; will be $290/week at the center
We were intrigued by Liz’s career transition, and she shared the following when we asked about the switch:
I graduated from nursing school in 2009 with the plan to practice for a few years and then do graduate school in something. (I wasn’t sure what.) I worked in critical care my first year and transitioned to the emergency room. I loved the ER, but it was incredibly hard (emotionally and physically). In 2011, I joined a fencing club, and one of the fencers was in law school and encouraged me to consider applying. I have airways loved reading, writing, and arguing. (I went to state for Lincoln Douglas debate in high school.) So I researched it more and started studying for the LSAT. I applied to Mizzou law and was accepted and started in 2012.
There are many intersections between healthcare and law and I thought I could make an impact as an attorney with a healthcare background. And I believe that I have.
How is the work-life balance in your industry in general? What are common ways of juggling responsibilities that you see your colleagues and coworkers doing?
I’m doing better than most attorneys; it’s usually more of a struggle.
How do you handle household chores, such as laundry, grocery shopping, housecleaning, etc.? Who does what, and when — and how often?
I do about 75% of it, but my husband definitely helps a lot and he does more of the cooking.
We were curious about the couple’s 75/25-ish split, so we asked Liz if she could elaborate, and she shared this:
My husband has a more demanding career and brings in significantly more income. and we both come from families with very traditional gender roles. We have had a lot of conversations about the division of labor and what is fair — I highly recommend the book Fair Play as a jumping off point. I am satisfied with the current arrangement; it does not feel like a burden to me since I am only working 20-30 hours per week. And, honestly, some weeks it is probably more 60/40 than 75/25, especially as we’ve been discussing it more in the past few months.
A Week in My Life
Swim lessons at 9:30 a.m. for almost-two-year-old Ella (We all went.)
Came home and gave Ella a bath, played, lunch, and a little screen time
Babysitter arrived; husband and I went to brunch with friends
Pool day with friends until 5:00 p.m., relieved babysitter
Dinner at grandparents’ house until 7:30ish
Home and bedtime routine
Liz’s Nov. 2023 update: “This was from the summer; babies are older now and we aren’t getting any pool time with it being winter — we’ve switched to hanging it in our hot tub lol.”
I do morning routine, give baby bottle, get both babies ready for daycare
Drop off between 8:00–9:00 a.m.
Husband starts work at 8:30ish
Go to the gym, come home
Shower/coffee, start work
Mix of work and household activities throughout day
Husband picks up babies at 5:30 p.m.
I make toddler’s meal and give baby bottle, playtime
Toddler bedtime routine starts at 5:30 p.m.
Same as above
Same as above, but we do dinner at grandparents’ house tonight instead of at home
Get home by 8:30 p.m. and do bedtime routine.
Because grandparents as caregivers can be tricky for some families, we asked Liz to share her experiences, and she had this to say:
We are very fortunate to have excellent relations with the grandparents on both sides. My parents live in our town two weeks out of every month, and his parents are just two hours away. We rely on them mostly for overnight babysitting needs when we travel (or just need a night off). They help us out at least once a month, sometimes more. It has been smooth sailing. My husband and I are both pretty laid back and accept that the grandparents are not going to do everything exactly our way and that is OK — the babies love them and we trust them to keep them safe and happy.
We also have a few reliable babysitters that also help with weekly date nights and/or weekend days so we can catch up on things around the house. And we are very fortunate to have enough discretionary income to be able to afford the extra help.
Same as Monday
Same as above except we take the afternoon mostly off of work (this is true every Friday almost) and catch upon household activities/have a date afternoon.
We had a follow-up question for Liz about her part-time schedule, and she shared this:
I’ve had a variety of arrangements at my firm and my employer has been incredibly accommodating. I started full time in 2015, which I found to be incredibly difficult. I went to 75% time in 2017, which was great before I had kids. When I got married in 2019, I became an independent contractor with no real hours requirement and I did about 10 hours a week for the firm. This was because I became the general counsel for my husband’s company (he is a physician entrepreneur) and I thought that would be more of a full-time job than it ended up being. I had too much free time that year.
My firm let me come back as an associate at 60% time, which meant I was benefit eligible, in January 2020, and that is my current arrangement and I am very happy with it. My billable target is about 80-100 hours each month. I also continue to serve as general counsel for my husband, but that is typically only an additional 5-10 hours of work each month.
Husband watched the babies while I slept in until 11:00 a.m.
Household chores and playtime until lunch
Both babies napped
After nap I ran errands with toddler; husband stayed home with baby (who was very fussy) and watched golf.
Leftovers for dinner
Bedtime routine for toddler
Mom and Dad watched a show and tried to keep baby happy
Put baby to bed about 10:30 a.m., then we went to bed.
Thanks so much to Liz for sharing a bit of her life as a working mom! Readers, what’s your biggest takeaway from her week of work as a part-time Biglaw lawyer as well as her general work/life balance?
Stock photo via Stencil.