Single parent as an SA/Associate

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Anonymous User
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Single parent as an SA/Associate

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Nov 21, 2010 11:14 pm

I am in the process of getting a divorce from my spouse, and we have a 3-yr-old daughter together. The circumstances are such that I am almost guaranteed full custody rights (unfit parent-type issues), and I am set up for SA positions in my home state this summer.

Has anyone out there been a single parent as an SA or junior associate? I am fortunate enough to have family in the area who can support us from time to time, and the firms I'm summering for are supposedly not terrible in my (secondary) market.

Are firms generally understanding of this? Is the situation manageable? Are there options for daycare after hours?

Also, should I tell the firms? If so, when? I feel as though they may see me as more of a liability, but perhaps I'm just being paranoid...

Renzo
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Re: Single parent as an SA/Associate

Postby Renzo » Sun Nov 21, 2010 11:38 pm

Do not, do not, do not tell the firm. Its none of their business, and while they will never explicitly say so, it can only hurt to have a reputation as someone whose childcare responsibilities will interfere with work.

You are not being paranoid in being concerned about your image, but yes the situation is manageable. What options are available/appropriate for after-hours and/or emergency childcare will depend on where you are, but I suggest you start casually looking now so that it's not a mega-stressor as summer gets closer.

treeey86
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Re: Single parent as an SA/Associate

Postby treeey86 » Mon Nov 22, 2010 12:59 am

I disagree.

Many firms have day care programs or agreements with local day care facilities. The reasoning behind it so that their attorneys can have peace of mind at work. Likely, you could get a similar deal working there for the summer, and it would be conveniently located near the firm so that there would be no issues for you to have to pick up your child.

Finally, I cannot imagine how it would "hurt" you because you have a child to look out for. Lawyers are people to...many of whom have either been in your shoes before or have a spouse that has. They will understand when you need to take care of your child. Just talk to the firm, find out about their options, get peace of mind, and do good work.

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Kohinoor
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Re: Single parent as an SA/Associate

Postby Kohinoor » Mon Nov 22, 2010 4:20 am

Anonymous User wrote:I am in the process of getting a divorce from my spouse, and we have a 3-yr-old daughter together. The circumstances are such that I am almost guaranteed full custody rights (unfit parent-type issues), and I am set up for SA positions in my home state this summer.

Has anyone out there been a single parent as an SA or junior associate? I am fortunate enough to have family in the area who can support us from time to time, and the firms I'm summering for are supposedly not terrible in my (secondary) market.

Are firms generally understanding of this? Is the situation manageable? Are there options for daycare after hours?

Also, should I tell the firms? If so, when? I feel as though they may see me as more of a liability, but perhaps I'm just being paranoid...

Your instinct about the liability was correct. Don't give out information that you don't need to. There are day cares that run late.

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Kohinoor
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Re: Single parent as an SA/Associate

Postby Kohinoor » Mon Nov 22, 2010 4:21 am

treeey86 wrote:I disagree.

Many firms have day care programs or agreements with local day care facilities. The reasoning behind it so that their attorneys can have peace of mind at work. Likely, you could get a similar deal working there for the summer, and it would be conveniently located near the firm so that there would be no issues for you to have to pick up your child.

Finally, I cannot imagine how it would "hurt" you because you have a child to look out for. Lawyers are people to...many of whom have either been in your shoes before or have a spouse that has. They will understand when you need to take care of your child. Just talk to the firm, find out about their options, get peace of mind, and do good work.

Lawyers are people. Firms are businesses. If they suspect that his/her family duties will be a problem, it could seriously hurt him.

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Re: Single parent as an SA/Associate

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Nov 22, 2010 8:38 am

Since you are a going to be a single parent, my advice is different than if you were in a relationship with someone who could help contribute to household finances.

I would lay low on sharing any information about your personal life with the firm, at least early on. I am assuming that you really need this job. While it is important to do what you can to find an environment that is as compatible as possible with your responsibilities a parent, ITE and in this stage of the game even a bad job is going to be better than no job.

Let the firm get to know you as an employee before they start jumping to conclusions about you as a single parent. Make sure you have really good child care for this summer (even if it eats most of your earnings). Work hard, but also see how other people handle work life balance. See if there is a a face time requirement. How many people work from home from time to time or during the evening. Whether partners start roaming the halls around 5 or 6 to see if people are still working.

As the summer goes along, it will be a judgment call as to how much to divulge. In the end, though, you want whether you join that firm a decision that is your court. And having an offer, even if you don't take it, will put you in a much better position.

Oh, and as to your question about child care -- most likely you will be looking at nanny situation, at least part of the time. If you find a good daycare, you can use that for most of the day, and then have someone who regularly gets your child at a certain time and then stays until you get home. This can work very well, since your child will have the benefits of a more structured program (especially as they get older) but also have a good deal of home time as well. It also lets you relax about when you need to leave the office. Even if you are able to leave at pretty regular time everyday, knowing you don't have to can take a lot of pressure off of you. If you are having a part time nanny, you can often find very good ones through local colleges.

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reasonable_man
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Re: Single parent as an SA/Associate

Postby reasonable_man » Mon Nov 22, 2010 9:41 am

treeey86 wrote:I disagree.

Many firms have day care programs or agreements with local day care facilities. The reasoning behind it so that their attorneys can have peace of mind at work. Likely, you could get a similar deal working there for the summer, and it would be conveniently located near the firm so that there would be no issues for you to have to pick up your child.

Finally, I cannot imagine how it would "hurt" you because you have a child to look out for. Lawyers are people to...many of whom have either been in your shoes before or have a spouse that has. They will understand when you need to take care of your child. Just talk to the firm, find out about their options, get peace of mind, and do good work.


Do you take your head out of your ass to breathe or have you developed some kind of device that allows you to do so, without ever having to come up for air? It’s one thing to be stupid in your own life; it’s quite another to give someone else awful advice and, astoundingly, be obnoxious towards those giving her the proper advice, as you do it.

Op, do not tell the firm. Struggle through it now and if and when you are hired as a full blown associate, quietly inquire to someone in HR, etc., re: whether there are any child care benefits available... If not, take some of that nice 1st year associate salary and dump it into finding top notch child care to balance out what you and/or your family is willing/able to do. As a child of a single parent household, I applaud your taking such a tough step in a tough time in your life to do it.. Best of luck.

ITE, there is no reason why you would want to do anything to hurt your chances of being offered a position. There are legions of stories of young women losing their jobs, losing out on partner promotions, etc., at large firms over equally qualified men who can work all day and night, without worrying about child-care burdens. It’s a fact of life. Don’t let that hurt you early on in your career. Make sure this SA turns into a full time offer after school and then worry about how to care for the kid(s) then..

LurkerNoMore
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Re: Single parent as an SA/Associate

Postby LurkerNoMore » Mon Nov 22, 2010 9:50 am

reasonable_man wrote:
Do you take your head out of your ass to breathe or have you developed some kind of device that allows you to do so, without ever having to come up for air? It’s one thing to be stupid in your own life; it’s quite another to give someone else awful advice and, astoundingly, be obnoxious towards those giving her the proper advice, as you do it.


Totally agree with your advice, but would flag that nothing in the post warranted this assumption. :wink:

Aqualibrium
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Re: Single parent as an SA/Associate

Postby Aqualibrium » Mon Nov 22, 2010 10:34 am

Don't make a big deal out of it now. Work hard, get an offer, and quietly start looking for firms that have a reputation for being good about child care.

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Re: Single parent as an SA/Associate

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Nov 22, 2010 10:53 am

Op here - Thanks for the insight everyone. I think it makes sense to lay low this summer, as I will be staying with family who will be able to help take care of my child anyway. I have a pretty good rapport with the firms as it is, but I'll wait for an offer before asking for help/favors.

So for clarification purposes... if the firm(s) offer back-up daycare over the summer (I know at least one of them does), would your recommend I take advantage of it, even if I don't tell them about my situation?

To treeey86: I can see where you're coming from. I'll approach them after the summer.

LurkerNoMore wrote:
reasonable_man wrote:
Do you take your head out of your ass to breathe or have you developed some kind of device that allows you to do so, without ever having to come up for air? It’s one thing to be stupid in your own life; it’s quite another to give someone else awful advice and, astoundingly, be obnoxious towards those giving her the proper advice, as you do it.


Totally agree with your advice, but would flag that nothing in the post warranted this assumption. :wink:


Good catch :wink:... I purposefully left it ambiguous at first, but I'm actually a guy.

Aqualibrium
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Re: Single parent as an SA/Associate

Postby Aqualibrium » Mon Nov 22, 2010 11:16 am

Anonymous User wrote:Op here - Thanks for the insight everyone. I think it makes sense to lay low this summer, as I will be staying with family who will be able to help take care of my child anyway. I have a pretty good rapport with the firms as it is, but I'll wait for an offer before asking for help/favors.

So for clarification purposes... if the firm(s) offer back-up daycare over the summer (I know at least one of them does), would your recommend I take advantage of it, even if I don't tell them about my situation?

To treeey86: I can see where you're coming from. I'll approach them after the summer.

LurkerNoMore wrote:
reasonable_man wrote:
Do you take your head out of your ass to breathe or have you developed some kind of device that allows you to do so, without ever having to come up for air? It’s one thing to be stupid in your own life; it’s quite another to give someone else awful advice and, astoundingly, be obnoxious towards those giving her the proper advice, as you do it.


Totally agree with your advice, but would flag that nothing in the post warranted this assumption. :wink:


Good catch :wink:... I purposefully left it ambiguous at first, but I'm actually a guy.



Another thing you could do is talk to an attorney with children at the firm and say something like: I'm trying to make plans for the summer, I'll have my son/daughter with me; do you know of any good day care facilities in the area?

He or she either says: "I don't" "I don't but I can ask my friends for you" or "the firm actually has a deal with xyz day care facility."

LurkerNoMore
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Re: Single parent as an SA/Associate

Postby LurkerNoMore » Mon Nov 22, 2010 11:50 am

LurkerNoMore wrote:
Totally agree with your advice, but would flag that nothing in the post warranted this assumption. :wink:


Good catch :wink:... I purposefully left it ambiguous at first, but I'm actually a guy.


Sad thing is that I was pretty sure you were -- not many women would feel the need to explain why they expect to get full custody.

But to the topic at hand, some firms will volunteer information about childcare (and this is a good sign). Though, if you can swing childcare for the summer without involving the firm, I'd recommend it. Getting the offer is the key. Once you have that, you can start probing more specifically. And while you are there, you can really watch to see how people work generally and decide what the vibe is like.

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Kohinoor
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Re: Single parent as an SA/Associate

Postby Kohinoor » Mon Nov 22, 2010 12:47 pm

LurkerNoMore wrote:
LurkerNoMore wrote:
Totally agree with your advice, but would flag that nothing in the post warranted this assumption. :wink:


Good catch :wink:... I purposefully left it ambiguous at first, but I'm actually a guy.


Sad thing is that I was pretty sure you were -- not many women would feel the need to explain why they expect to get full custody.

This.

Renzo
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Re: Single parent as an SA/Associate

Postby Renzo » Mon Nov 22, 2010 3:21 pm

reasonable_man wrote:
treeey86 wrote:I disagree.

Many firms have day care programs or agreements with local day care facilities. The reasoning behind it so that their attorneys can have peace of mind at work. Likely, you could get a similar deal working there for the summer, and it would be conveniently located near the firm so that there would be no issues for you to have to pick up your child.

Finally, I cannot imagine how it would "hurt" you because you have a child to look out for. Lawyers are people to...many of whom have either been in your shoes before or have a spouse that has. They will understand when you need to take care of your child. Just talk to the firm, find out about their options, get peace of mind, and do good work.


Do you take your head out of your ass to breathe or have you developed some kind of device that allows you to do so, without ever having to come up for air? It’s one thing to be stupid in your own life; it’s quite another to give someone else awful advice and, astoundingly, be obnoxious towards those giving her the proper advice, as you do it.

Op, do not tell the firm. Struggle through it now and if and when you are hired as a full blown associate, quietly inquire to someone in HR, etc., re: whether there are any child care benefits available... If not, take some of that nice 1st year associate salary and dump it into finding top notch child care to balance out what you and/or your family is willing/able to do. As a child of a single parent household, I applaud your taking such a tough step in a tough time in your life to do it.. Best of luck.

ITE, there is no reason why you would want to do anything to hurt your chances of being offered a position. There are legions of stories of young women losing their jobs, losing out on partner promotions, etc., at large firms over equally qualified men who can work all day and night, without worrying about child-care burdens. It’s a fact of life. Don’t let that hurt you early on in your career. Make sure this SA turns into a full time offer after school and then worry about how to care for the kid(s) then..

Don't let RM's assumption that you were a lady take away from his good advice. Law firms want you to spend the summer proving you are committed and reliable-don't start that discussion by volunteering some information that would potentially give someone a reason to think you are not going to be so. The stakes are doubly high for women in this situation because of stereotypes, but the root concern that law firms have applies across genders.

Anonymous User
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Re: Single parent as an SA/Associate

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Nov 23, 2010 4:22 pm

OP here - Again, thanks for the advice.

Next question: Based on everything, I'm considering spending my last school year at a lower-ranked school (T1) that's located in the city where I plan to practice, so I can just stay with family. I spoke with OCS at my school (T-14) and academic services at both schools, and it's a relatively easy process. I'd just be a 'visiting student,' and I'd still get a degree from the T-14. I wouldn't even have to let the firm(s) know. I think it may show up on my transcript, however, so I'm curious about what you guys think about that prospect. Any thoughts?

Aqualibrium
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Re: Single parent as an SA/Associate

Postby Aqualibrium » Tue Nov 23, 2010 4:44 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP here - Again, thanks for the advice.

Next question: Based on everything, I'm considering spending my last school year at a lower-ranked school (T1) that's located in the city where I plan to practice, so I can just stay with family. I spoke with OCS at my school (T-14) and academic services at both schools, and it's a relatively easy process. I'd just be a 'visiting student,' and I'd still get a degree from the T-14. I wouldn't even have to let the firm(s) know. I think it may show up on my transcript, however, so I'm curious about what you guys think about that prospect. Any thoughts?



I don't see anything wrong with visiting besides the cost. If you're going to be paying more at the school you'd be visiting than at your original school, I don't think it's the greatest of ideas. If that isn't a factor though, I really don't see how it could hurt you.

Anonymous User
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Re: Single parent as an SA/Associate

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Nov 23, 2010 4:48 pm

Aqualibrium wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:OP here - Again, thanks for the advice.

Next question: Based on everything, I'm considering spending my last school year at a lower-ranked school (T1) that's located in the city where I plan to practice, so I can just stay with family. I spoke with OCS at my school (T-14) and academic services at both schools, and it's a relatively easy process. I'd just be a 'visiting student,' and I'd still get a degree from the T-14. I wouldn't even have to let the firm(s) know. I think it may show up on my transcript, however, so I'm curious about what you guys think about that prospect. Any thoughts?



I don't see anything wrong with visiting besides the cost. If you're going to be paying more at the school you'd be visiting than at your original school, I don't think it's the greatest of ideas. If that isn't a factor though, I really don't see how it could hurt you.

I'd actually be decreasing tuition costs, and (potentially) doubling my GI Bill benefits, so the final year would actually be free, if it worked out.

Aqualibrium
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Re: Single parent as an SA/Associate

Postby Aqualibrium » Tue Nov 23, 2010 4:53 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Aqualibrium wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:OP here - Again, thanks for the advice.

Next question: Based on everything, I'm considering spending my last school year at a lower-ranked school (T1) that's located in the city where I plan to practice, so I can just stay with family. I spoke with OCS at my school (T-14) and academic services at both schools, and it's a relatively easy process. I'd just be a 'visiting student,' and I'd still get a degree from the T-14. I wouldn't even have to let the firm(s) know. I think it may show up on my transcript, however, so I'm curious about what you guys think about that prospect. Any thoughts?



I don't see anything wrong with visiting besides the cost. If you're going to be paying more at the school you'd be visiting than at your original school, I don't think it's the greatest of ideas. If that isn't a factor though, I really don't see how it could hurt you.

I'd actually be decreasing tuition costs, and (potentially) doubling my GI Bill benefits, so the final year would actually be free, if it worked out.


Well, again, I don't see any issue with it. In your situation, you'll presumably have a good indication of whether you like the firm/the prospect of working in that market before you make the decision to follow through with the visit. So, why not.

Renzo
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Re: Single parent as an SA/Associate

Postby Renzo » Tue Nov 23, 2010 6:52 pm

This sounds like the perfect situation in which to be a visiting student. You still get your fancy degree, you get to spend more time in the place you'll be practicing, and you have a really perfect answer in case anyone ever asks why you did it.




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