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Work-Life Balance Tips for Solo Lawyers With Kids

Stacy Ehrisman-Mickle is the poster child for a lawyer hanging in the work-life balance.

Actually, her child is the poster child because Ehrisman-Mickle had the kid strapped to her chest when she showed up in court. The judge chastised her, but it was his own fault because he denied her request for a continuance after she gave birth just four weeks earlier.

That story is history now, but the problem persists today: how do busy lawyers find work-life balance? It's especially challenging for solo practitioners who sometimes can't find anyone to back them up.

Tip 1: Mothers' Helpers

Misogynistic as it may sound, maybe a babysitter is the answer for mommy lawyers who can't put down their kids to go to court. But you didn't need a blogger to tell you that, so here is something maybe you didn't know.

Carolyn Elefant, a popular blogger, is running a series about mom-owned law firms. Jan Meyer, for example, talks about how she worked as a nanny before becoming a lawyer.

As a mother, Meyer realized that starting her own practice gave her more flexibility than working at a firm. Her helper at home is her husband.

Tip 2: Management Skills

Owning a law practice makes you the managing partner. That includes everything from the office to the house to the courthouse.

Virtual law offices, telecommuting, and time management techniques can help keep it all in balance. The same applies to daddy lawyers.

Rohit Parekh also manages his children, particularly with after-school activities. "The deal I made with my wife is the kids will do activities at the same place at the same time," he said.

Tip 3: Saying No

Rebecca Geller left BigLaw to start her own firm, hoping she could spend more time with her children without losing money. She quickly learned it was not that easy.

She recruited five like-minded women into the "small-scale experiment in parenting while employed," the ABA Journal reported. But it was hard for them to make court appearances, and so litigation was limited.

Sometimes, in the balancing act of lawyer/parent, something has to fall off -- like billable hours. Most solo practitioners, however, will probably say it is worth it.

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