Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Working Parent-Lawyers Plead For Empathy From Law Firms During COVID-19, 'My Career Is Basically Over': Working Parents Offer Pleas for Empathy From Law Firms:

Working parents find themselves caught in the crossfire—managing their lives and careers in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and working through a child care crisis of epic proportions. The result? The potential for a long-term talent exodus that disproportionately impacts women and diverse attorneys or, for those who remain in the workforce, a professional framework that ends up unintentionally penalizing parents. The solution? Surprisingly, at least for a start, the demonstration of empathy and understanding by employers and leaders.

In “Call It a Crisis” we flagged the damage being done to working parents by the pandemic and outlined several initiatives that law firms might take to mitigate the impact on this group. Inspired by an overwhelming response to the article, we decided to ask parents what they needed, and to work on creating meaningful solutions and support. Thus, we designed the basis for this article, the Working Parents and COVID-19 Survey, the objectives of which were two-fold: to gather specific data on the impact of the child care crisis for lawyers, and to support and contribute to the design of real-world solutions across the legal industry. ...

While no solution is ideal, this pandemic has surfaced a need that has always been present, but has been masked by its individual nature: the importance of viewing lawyers as whole people with full lives and long careers. The need for a workplace environment where we are not only as good as our last billable month or matter, but also valued for the quality of our lawyering, our client service, and our potential over the span of years, during which our capacity to perform at 110% may ebb and flow depending on what is occurring in other parts of our lives.

Perhaps what the pandemic can help us begin to appreciate is what has been needed all along. Parents in our ranks (and yes, mostly women) are managing families and practices at the same time, and their value as contributors must be viewed through a lens that takes account of more than a single fiscal year.

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