big law and kids

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Anonymous User
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big law and kids

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Dec 06, 2017 1:30 pm

I'm an associate who's about to become a parent. For associates in big law with kids, how do you manage your schedule? I'm curious about the details -- when you get into the office, when you leave, when you log back on, etc. Bonus points if you have any tips (or war stories) for what it was like being in big law with an infant. Thanks!

ruski
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Re: big law and kids

Postby ruski » Wed Dec 06, 2017 1:40 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm an associate who's about to become a parent. For associates in big law with kids, how do you manage your schedule? I'm curious about the details -- when you get into the office, when you leave, when you log back on, etc. Bonus points if you have any tips (or war stories) for what it was like being in big law with an infant. Thanks!


this depends heavily on whether you are the mom or dad and what your spouse does and how you divide responsibilities. as a dad, I leave home in the morning later than I would like to spend mornings with my kids, as they will no doubt be sleeping when I come home (even on a good day, which is about 8pm). people are forgiving (and less cognizant) of you coming in a little later in the morning rather than you rushing out 6pm. my wife has a chill job and basically takes front seat in taking care of kids, so I don't really run out of the office to pick up kids or take them to dr etc. as she does all that, so it hasn't really affected my work life much. some weeks I have to go into the office early (if really busy, or on a cross border deal) which sucks because then literally I don't see my kids at all mon-fri. its not so bad when they are infants. when they are about 3-4 they start to really understand who you are and thats when its the toughest.

Anonymous User
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Re: big law and kids

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Dec 06, 2017 1:58 pm

Totally depends on your office, too.

I'm in a smaller office of a V10 firm and the overwhelming majority of associates have kids and leave work by 6 every day. I know that's not at all normal in my firm's DC/NY offices, though.

You will definitely need to decide on your priorities. I tried to make clear to the people that I work with that unless there is an emergency, I'm going to spend 6-8 pm every day with my family, and I will handle anything that needs doing after that. It means I have a lot of nights that could have ended at 11 but instead end at 1 am because I took that time away, but I'm happy to make that trade. I haven't had pushback on this, but maybe I just work with unusually accommodating people.

Anonymous User
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Re: big law and kids

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Dec 06, 2017 2:02 pm

There are firms that provide day-care in their building, might want to check that out.

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JenDarby
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Re: big law and kids

Postby JenDarby » Wed Dec 06, 2017 2:15 pm

ruski wrote:this depends heavily on whether you are the mom or dad

does it really though?

Anonymous User
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Re: big law and kids

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Dec 06, 2017 3:36 pm

I'm a corporate/transactional associate and I've found it a difficult balance to strike if you want to spend extended time with your kids. Plenty of people will tell you it's the quality of time that matters, but that is completely false for young kids. Quality is quantity for young kids. I'm skeptical of that even being true for older kids.

On a typical day, I stroll into the office somewhat later (9 AM/9:30 AM), so that I can hang out with my kids in the morning. If things aren't busy, I'll try to leave at 6 PM, so that I have some time with my kids in the evening. It's important to remember though that young kids sleep pretty earlier (7 PM? 8 PM?), so the evening time is pretty limited unless I get home early. If things are busy, I just accept that I won't see my kids at night.

The problem that I've found as a corporate/transactional associate (I'd pretty interested in hearing from folks in other practice areas) is that I don't have that many typical days and this is a huge problem. Kids (especially young one) like and thrive on routine. My schedule, however, is constantly changing and I find that I need to make often make myself available on very short and unexpected notice. This a conflict that I have not been able to resolve and I will probably leave when the right opportunity presents itself.

The other thing is that you really should be thinking in terms of the worst day (rather than the typical day). I think my rock bottom was when I worked a 19 hour day (ended at around 4:30 AM) and then rushed home to take a shower before my kids woke up around 6:00 AM. I usually do drop offs and am responsible for getting my kids ready in the morning while my spouse goes to work early and does pick ups. I then proceeded to get them ready and realized that one of them was sick and probably shouldn't go to day care (young kids get sick a lot ... daycare makes it worse). Unfortunately, I had an early morning conference call that I couldn't miss and I was in no position on such short notice to get the "backup care" that so many firms provide, so I just gave the sick child some tylenol, cleaned up the crusted snot over my kid's face and got them ready for daycare (I am ashamed to say that this was definitely not a one-time incident). I then did two drop offs (my kids were in different daycares at the time). Unfortunately, while driving, I was getting deluged with emails and I was trying to respond while driving/sitting at red lights. It didn't help that I was really tired, as I had gotten about 30 minutes of sleep, so I was occasionally nodding off while driving as well, with both of my kids in the car. In the end, both kids got to daycare and I got to work (for an exciting 17 hour day), so other than the other kids at the daycare who probably caught what my kid had, no one got hurt.

The thing that I came away with from crappy days like the above (and perhaps crappy weeks and months) is that to survive in biglaw over the long-term with young kids, you need a good support system, with multiple layers of backup (e.g., stay at home spouse, two sets of grandparents, aunts/uncles living, full-time nanny). Crap just happens and biglaw can be pretty unforgiving when crap happens ("I am sorry about that car accident yesterday, but could you please make sure to get me a mark up this document within the next hour? The client has been vacationing on their private island in the Caribbean for the past three months and just realized that this document needs to be submitted later this evening.") It was only after my spouse was injured and out of commission for six months, making me responsible for everything at home plus my biglaw job that I finally came to the realization that this is not going to work and that I needed to find an alternative.

Best of luck with everything. Young kids are a lot of fun, but it's a lot of work. I hope that your attempts at balancing biglaw and parenthood go better than mine. If you figure out how to make the balancing act work, definitely drop a note.

bree
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Re: big law and kids

Postby bree » Wed Dec 06, 2017 3:40 pm

Anonymous User wrote:There are firms that provide day-care in their building, might want to check that out.


In-building day-care is a nice perk and it's nice to be able to check on your kids during the day. It's important to remember though that kids get sick shockingly often and that day-cares don't take sick kids. Consider getting a nanny, though that has its own issues.

dudders
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Re: big law and kids

Postby dudders » Wed Dec 06, 2017 3:46 pm

JenDarby wrote:
ruski wrote:this depends heavily on whether you are the mom or dad

does it really though?


OP asked (somewhat) specifically about "being in big law with an infant." I think people have different experiences with that depending on whether they're postpartum and breastfeeding/pumping vs. not (even assuming a very egalitarian parenting relationship).

If your kid is 3 though ...

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JenDarby
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Re: big law and kids

Postby JenDarby » Wed Dec 06, 2017 3:51 pm

dudders wrote:
JenDarby wrote:
ruski wrote:this depends heavily on whether you are the mom or dad

does it really though?


OP asked (somewhat) specifically about "being in big law with an infant." I think people have different experiences with that depending on whether they're postpartum and breastfeeding/pumping vs. not (even assuming a very egalitarian parenting relationship).

If your kid is 3 though ...

yes but that is for a limited duration (and still manageable regardless of whether it's the mom, dad, or one of two mom's or two dad's in biglaw). and ruski went on to speak broadly about parenting, which seemed to also be the focus of OP's question, and not "how do I manage to breast feed at the office!" (which has been asked before). OP first asked about big law and kids before also adding "infant" for bonus points

the broad answer does not "depend heavily on whether you are the mom or dad"

I know dual big law couples, big law mom and SAH dad, big law dad and SAH mom, etc couples and the gender dynamics do not generally, and certainly not heavily, affect the logistics

dudders
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Re: big law and kids

Postby dudders » Wed Dec 06, 2017 3:56 pm

JenDarby wrote:
dudders wrote:
JenDarby wrote:
ruski wrote:this depends heavily on whether you are the mom or dad

does it really though?


OP asked (somewhat) specifically about "being in big law with an infant." I think people have different experiences with that depending on whether they're postpartum and breastfeeding/pumping vs. not (even assuming a very egalitarian parenting relationship).

If your kid is 3 though ...

the broad answer does not "depend heavily on whether you are the mom or dad"


100% agree. You and I are on the same page.

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homestyle28
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Re: big law and kids

Postby homestyle28 » Wed Dec 06, 2017 3:57 pm

Big law litigation assoc. Married w/2 kids (4 and 7 now). My wife works as well. There are some things that make it manageable:

1) My wife's schedule reliably ends by 5pm so she can pick up kids from daycare.
2) We pay a lot for daycare we like and trust
3) Most partners I work for have kids and value their families so when I work from home b/c a kid is sick, or bail early to go to t-ball etc., it doesn't get much of an eyebrow raise
4) My wife understands that sometimes I have to travel, stay late, etc. She doesn't love it, but isn't surprised by it
5) I don't spend unnecessary time in the office and almost never come in on weekends.
6) Once a week or so I leave early to pick up the kids so my wife can stay late if she needs to, or get drinks with co-workers, etc. Helps mitigate resentment.
7) I don't work in NYC.

Anonymous User
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Re: big law and kids

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Dec 06, 2017 4:00 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm an associate who's about to become a parent. For associates in big law with kids, how do you manage your schedule? I'm curious about the details -- when you get into the office, when you leave, when you log back on, etc. Bonus points if you have any tips (or war stories) for what it was like being in big law with an infant. Thanks!


I'm no longer in biglaw (40hr/wk in-house gig), but my spouse is still in biglaw (non-NYC). I wont' tell you it's easy. I do daycare pickup and my spouse does dropoff since biglaw emergencies tend to make you stay late rather than come in early. It wouldn't be possible without having grandparents and aunts and uncles in town. For example, we have been both scheduled to take business trips on the same days. I don't have any idea where we'd find an overnight babysitter for an infant other than family- and one of us would have had to simply refuse the trip if our son had still been a newborn when this happened.

My spouse tries to get home before our son goes to bed (around 8), and then eats and logs back on 2-3 days a week. They also usually do 4-5 hours a day on the weekends.

On a separate note, I had a biglaw partner as a parent growing up. We have a great relationship and they always made time for me. It can be done, but not without some heroics.

Anonymous User
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Re: big law and kids

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Dec 06, 2017 4:14 pm

OP here. I'm about to be a dad (to the extent that makes a difference). Thanks for the very helpful responses! My wife has a steady schedule and very reasonable hours, so hopefully that will help. Our plan is to take it day-by-day and do the best we can. If we can't make it work, then I'll be looking for a new job. We're about two years away from being completely debt free, though, so I want to hang on for at least that long.




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