A recent study has shown that about 25% of lawyer moms end up leaving the legal workplace.
The study, conducted by University of Chicago economist Jane Leber Herr, found that in contrast, about 15% of women with PhDs left the workplace after having children, and less than 6% with MDs left the workplace after having children.
Law firms are left wondering why, and what can be done to retain talented attorneys.
To Herr, the results are perplexing. "You would think that, given the rise in education of women, their experience, their presence in high-investment, high-income, high-value fields, the proportion of those who leave the labor force would have gone down," Herr told the Post.
A possible solution to stem the tide of women leaving the attorney workforce? Implementing more family-friendly policies, Herr says. Being an attorney is a job that can come with many great benefits - and pitfalls. Mothers who want to actually be there for their kids' birthday parties may find it difficult to juggle family, 5 depositions, a trial and a brief all at the same time.
There is increasing movement to create flexibility for both women and men in the workplace. Many companies are creating flexible schedules for employees. Flexible options can include telecommuting, part-time hours, or days where you can simply work-from-home.
The telecommuting and work-from-home option can be great for professionals. Jennifer Folsom, a consultant with a MBA, starts her workday at 5 a.m. before her children wake up. She spends time with them in the afternoon, and continues work after their bedtime, reports The Washington Post. The end result is a full day of work for Folsom, and a full day with their mom for her children.
The question that many law firms will ask is, is telecommuting an option that can work for their business? Having a high turnover rate and attracting less talent because of the dearth of flexible options can cost a lot of money. Allowing employees to take on flexible schedules can increase productivity as job satisfaction increases.
Logically, it seems that to improve a firm's bottom line, the bottom line just might be using flexible schedules and retaining those lawyer moms.
- These Lawyer Families Are New Twist on Opt-Out Professionals (ABA Journal)
- Telecommuting Policies (FindLaw)
- Utah Women Lawyers Treated Unfairly (FindLaw's Strategist)
- In House Counsel and Law Firms Can't Decide Who's Worse at Flex- and Part-Time (FindLaw's In House)