Biglaw parents of young children: how do you manage?

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Biglaw parents of young children: how do you manage?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Apr 22, 2018 12:07 am

Hi all,

I will start as a first-year associate in biglaw M&A in the South. I was wondering if anybody managed to work out a schedule allowing them to leave work early and keep working from home. I have young kids, and ideally I would like to be able to pick them up at preschool at 5 and then work from home. My kids go to bed early, and obviously I have no problems working from home until late if this allows me to see them for a little while every night. Also, my idea is to be in the office by 8/8:30am every morning.

I would love to know any stories of junior associates (specially in corporate) who are also parents to young children. How do you make time? I found threads about being pregnant in biglaw, but not much about having a child already when you start.

Thank you!

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Re: Biglaw parents of young children: how do you manage?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Apr 22, 2018 3:01 am

During my summer, one of the associates would go back home early, spend sometime with her kids and then come back to the office staying till ... 1AM.

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Re: Biglaw parents of young children: how do you manage?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Apr 22, 2018 8:14 am

You’re not going to want to hear this but: basically not possible in corporate.

Maybe 60% of the work you do - the dreadful paper pushing stuff, like making sig pages - could be done on your schedule: ie, those assignments are “get it for me by tomorrow” and you do it when you want to do it. But that residual bit - mostly calls when you’re the most junior person on them or turning comments - are IMO actually the most important part of junior corporate practice, in that you actually learn how to do something more than push paper.

Also, if a senior associate or partner is having you turn their comments and you’re like “yeah, can get a revised to you at 10PM, but I shut down from 5-7:30”, that’s gonna go over like a fart in church. THEY won’t want to have to wait till late to do a final check on your work because they have families too, most likely older kids for whom prime family time is later in the evening. So, many senior lawyers will avoid working with you, because why would you ever work with a junior associate who’s not available in probably the busiest hours of the day (5-7) when there are others who would be thrilled to crank during the early evening so they and you can have the rest of your evenings (relatively) free.

The partial exception to this rule is that if you’re a single parent, people will feel obligated to try to accommodate. But you will have used up all your favor capital with others on day 1 because it is a big ask, so your margin for error more generally will disappear. On the other hand, if you have a spouse, then you’re no different than the 90% of partners who had kids when they were associates, and if they missed evening time for the job they’re not going to be super sympathetic to someone who’s less willing to put the job first.

Finally, none of this should be taken as an endorsement of any of the above: just my observations from several years of watching folks try to carve out family time only to learn that, regrettably, the only truly effective way to spend time with your family in the evening is to work a job that doesn’t demand your evenings.

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Re: Biglaw parents of young children: how do you manage?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Apr 22, 2018 11:37 am

Highly practice group dependent. In my firm and corporate practice group (secondary market biglaw with reputation for being a relatively associate-friendly place to work, also tech trans so less crazy timelines than M&A/securities), it's possible 80% of the time if you're a mid-level or senior associate with credibility in the group for doing good work, and can run a lot of things with clients fairly independently. For juniors still trying to build up that credibility, you might be able to make it if you do very good work and do a good job managing for the senior associates/partners you're working with, but it might make it harder for you to get traction within the group (tech trans is a competitive group to get into at our firm). There's still that 20% of the time when shit hits the fan, which creates a lot of stress if you don't have a supportive spouse or nanny/grandparent situation who can help.

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Re: Biglaw parents of young children: how do you manage?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Apr 22, 2018 12:26 pm

You cannot be the primary caregiver and a corporate attorney in biglaw. Simply not possible. At my former firm, the people in that position usually have a spouse doing most of the work.

If your spouse also works, you will just need to hire someone to do the parenting. The reality of biglaw is most moms quit when they have a baby and most dads suck it up and rarely see their kids.

I have seen colleagues get absolutely ripped to shreds for leaving at 6 to pick up their kids from school activities, and those are partners and not associates.

The reality of biglaw is that biglaw is the first priority, and you are supposed to use your money to have everything else taken care of. Anyway, what you proposed is def a lot more possible in biglaw lit.

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Re: Biglaw parents of young children: how do you manage?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Apr 22, 2018 1:05 pm

My youngest was 6 months old when I started as a corporate associate (in Texas). I don't have much to add to the above posts except to note that getting in early will add little value to your practice group. Most corporate groups start a little bit later in the morning. Your best bet may be to become a go to person for a young partner and after building trust over the course of a few years you might get the type of accommodation you want.

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Re: Biglaw parents of young children: how do you manage?

Postby Lacepiece23 » Sun Apr 22, 2018 4:39 pm

Just do litigation. It’s way more interesting, predictable, and may work with your time constraints. Read that thread on wanting to be a corporate associate and rethink being one

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Re: Biglaw parents of young children: how do you manage?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Apr 22, 2018 4:40 pm

Just chiming in to say that you can do this much more easily in litigation or a specialist practice (tax, employee benefits, etc.). I work at a biglaw firm in LA and, assuming you are not in the immediate run-up to trial or dealing with an emergency, it's fine and normal to be in the office 9-6 (so long as you are generally available by phone/email on weekends and in the evenings).

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Re: Biglaw parents of young children: how do you manage?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Apr 22, 2018 5:46 pm

It is absolutely possible to be a biglaw corporate associate and a primary caregiver. I work with many people who do it. Personally, I am able to leave by 5 most days, and most of my colleagues do the same. Different firms have different facetime requirements. It sounds like some other people here are expected to be around until 7. At my firm nobody ever cares where you are and it's not common for someone to be at the office until 7. I push toward closing on stressful deals all the team without being in the office after 5:30.

The bigger issue is the idea of being unavailable between 5-7:30. That's not going to work.

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Re: Biglaw parents of young children: how do you manage?

Postby BasilHallward » Sun Apr 22, 2018 6:39 pm

Anonymous User wrote:It is absolutely possible to be a biglaw corporate associate and a primary caregiver. I work with many people who do it. Personally, I am able to leave by 5 most days, and most of my colleagues do the same. Different firms have different facetime requirements. It sounds like some other people here are expected to be around until 7. At my firm nobody ever cares where you are and it's not common for someone to be at the office until 7. I push toward closing on stressful deals all the team without being in the office after 5:30.

The bigger issue is the idea of being unavailable between 5-7:30. That's not going to work.



Lol at the bolded. Sure, I guess this is theoretically possible, but irresponsible to even imply that this happens at any meaningful level.

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Re: Biglaw parents of young children: how do you manage?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Apr 23, 2018 12:58 am

BasilHallward wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:It is absolutely possible to be a biglaw corporate associate and a primary caregiver. I work with many people who do it. Personally, I am able to leave by 5 most days, and most of my colleagues do the same. Different firms have different facetime requirements. It sounds like some other people here are expected to be around until 7. At my firm nobody ever cares where you are and it's not common for someone to be at the office until 7. I push toward closing on stressful deals all the team without being in the office after 5:30.

The bigger issue is the idea of being unavailable between 5-7:30. That's not going to work.



Lol at the bolded. Sure, I guess this is theoretically possible, but irresponsible to even imply that this happens at any meaningful level.


It's the norm in my biglaw corporate practice. I work with teams that are around the country. They don't care where I am - they never even know where I am. I thought this was becoming more common, but maybe I'm wrong.

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Re: Biglaw parents of young children: how do you manage?

Postby SFSpartan » Mon Apr 23, 2018 11:24 am

Anonymous User wrote:
BasilHallward wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:It is absolutely possible to be a biglaw corporate associate and a primary caregiver. I work with many people who do it. Personally, I am able to leave by 5 most days, and most of my colleagues do the same. Different firms have different facetime requirements. It sounds like some other people here are expected to be around until 7. At my firm nobody ever cares where you are and it's not common for someone to be at the office until 7. I push toward closing on stressful deals all the team without being in the office after 5:30.

The bigger issue is the idea of being unavailable between 5-7:30. That's not going to work.



Lol at the bolded. Sure, I guess this is theoretically possible, but irresponsible to even imply that this happens at any meaningful level.


It's the norm in my biglaw corporate practice. I work with teams that are around the country. They don't care where I am - they never even know where I am. I thought this was becoming more common, but maybe I'm wrong.


I think this type of thing is more common on the West Coast. It seems like my friends in NY biglaw spend an inordinate amount of time in their office.

Completely agree that being unavailable from 5 to 7:30 isn't going to work for OP though. Also, unless OP has a really unusual group, I doubt that coming in early will add much (if any) value to his/her practice group. Most corporate groups start late and, at least IME, the busiest time of day for corporate lawyers is from 2-7 PM

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Re: Biglaw parents of young children: how do you manage?

Postby sparkytrainer » Mon Apr 23, 2018 11:52 am

SFSpartan wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
BasilHallward wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:It is absolutely possible to be a biglaw corporate associate and a primary caregiver. I work with many people who do it. Personally, I am able to leave by 5 most days, and most of my colleagues do the same. Different firms have different facetime requirements. It sounds like some other people here are expected to be around until 7. At my firm nobody ever cares where you are and it's not common for someone to be at the office until 7. I push toward closing on stressful deals all the team without being in the office after 5:30.

The bigger issue is the idea of being unavailable between 5-7:30. That's not going to work.



Lol at the bolded. Sure, I guess this is theoretically possible, but irresponsible to even imply that this happens at any meaningful level.


It's the norm in my biglaw corporate practice. I work with teams that are around the country. They don't care where I am - they never even know where I am. I thought this was becoming more common, but maybe I'm wrong.


I think this type of thing is more common on the West Coast. It seems like my friends in NY biglaw spend an inordinate amount of time in their office.

Completely agree that being unavailable from 5 to 7:30 isn't going to work for OP though. Also, unless OP has a really unusual group, I doubt that coming in early will add much (if any) value to his/her practice group. Most corporate groups start late and, at least IME, the busiest time of day for corporate lawyers is from 2-7 PM


I agree. In my non-NYC office, the M&A people dont even show up until noon but they are expected to be in their office until 10-11pm every night. They are the only group that cares about having juniors in their offices ready to work on whatever BS is needed at 9pm. I cannot imagine any of them making it more than a week in the group by leaving right in the heart of when they are working and being unavailable.

Honestly OP, your practice group decision is literally the worst for what you want with your family. I totally echo that specialized areas like tax, estate planning, even litigation are much more predictable and easier to carve out a few hours in the evening. Almost everyone in my lit group (unless there is a trial) leaves at 5 and signs back on at 730/8 for a few hours from their couches. Plus the work is generally more interesting than corporate work.

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Re: Biglaw parents of young children: how do you manage?

Postby shock259 » Mon Apr 23, 2018 12:55 pm

As folks have said, it's going to be extremely challenging for the first few years. I will say that, if you are a good associate and develop solid relationships with partners and senior associates, people will be more willing to give you some flexibility in a few years. But even with that earned flexibility, being out of the office by 5pm is definitely stretching it, and being unavailable from 5pm-7:30pm is a non-starter.

As far as how people make it work at my firm, they rely heavily on their spouses. And I think they accept that many nights a week, they won't see their kids before they go to sleep. The partner I work with has short calls with his kids from his office before they go to bed. And he tries to make the most of the weekends he gets free.

It's less than ideal, but with childcare or an understanding spouse, it's possible. And it's obviously easier if your kids are really little, or if you are only planning on being in big law for a few years.

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Re: Biglaw parents of young children: how do you manage?

Postby pianoman4 » Mon Apr 23, 2018 8:43 pm

Does the reality about corporate hold true in a real estate practice?

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Re: Biglaw parents of young children: how do you manage?

Postby nothingtosee » Mon Apr 23, 2018 9:13 pm

V helpful thread imo

Also sad

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Re: Biglaw parents of young children: how do you manage?

Postby bwh8813 » Mon Apr 23, 2018 9:33 pm

V20 NYC non-M&A corporate associate here. I take care of the kids, spend time with them in the morning and do school/daycare drop-offs. Mornings are our main time together. My spouse goes to work pretty early in order to do pick-ups. I get to work between 9:30-10 each day. I specifically chose a practice group that tends to be consistently busy as opposed to the rollercoaster of M&A so I could have a semi-regular schedule. I try to make it home for dinner two times per week, usually successfully (it helps that I only live about 20 minutes from the office). After the kids are in bed, I'll put in at least two more hours, but often more. Obviously, there are some times of the year or certain projects where making it home for dinner or bed time isn't possible and my spouse understands. Some days I can have one foot out the door and then have to tell my spouse I can't make it. That's just part of the job.

As others have said, it's very much firm/group/individual partner dependent. However, I think it is more possible to find a good balance than some suggest but flexibility is also key. I realize dinner two nights a week isn't picking your kids up every day at 5, but it's some form of balance that works for me and my family. Partners I work for have no problem when I leave "early" and are often thanking me for working late to get things done.

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Re: Biglaw parents of young children: how do you manage?

Postby nealric » Mon Apr 23, 2018 10:36 pm

Lacepiece23 wrote:Just do litigation. It’s way more interesting, predictable, and may work with your time constraints. Read that thread on wanting to be a corporate associate and rethink being one


One advantage to corporate is that it is easier to go in-house, where it is very possible to have regular/predictable hours. It can be harder to ratchet down in lit.

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Re: Biglaw parents of young children: how do you manage?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Apr 24, 2018 7:19 am

bwh8813 wrote:V20 NYC non-M&A corporate associate here. I take care of the kids, spend time with them in the morning and do school/daycare drop-offs. Mornings are our main time together. My spouse goes to work pretty early in order to do pick-ups. I get to work between 9:30-10 each day. I specifically chose a practice group that tends to be consistently busy as opposed to the rollercoaster of M&A so I could have a semi-regular schedule. I try to make it home for dinner two times per week, usually successfully (it helps that I only live about 20 minutes from the office). After the kids are in bed, I'll put in at least two more hours, but often more. Obviously, there are some times of the year or certain projects where making it home for dinner or bed time isn't possible and my spouse understands. Some days I can have one foot out the door and then have to tell my spouse I can't make it. That's just part of the job.

As others have said, it's very much firm/group/individual partner dependent. However, I think it is more possible to find a good balance than some suggest but flexibility is also key. I realize dinner two nights a week isn't picking your kids up every day at 5, but it's some form of balance that works for me and my family. Partners I work for have no problem when I leave "early" and are often thanking me for working late to get things done.


This is a good post. I was the third poster in the thread - ie the first one to say it couldn’t be done - and wanted to note that you shouldn’t take away from this thread that you’ll never see your kids. Rather (1) morning is MUCH better for scheduled time (I also do morning drop offs) and (2) scheduled appointments are much harder to do in the evening than opportunistic time. We all have slow days and if you sneak out for an hour at 500 when things are quiet you’ll pull it off occasionally - some weeks every day some weeks never, but longer term an average of a couple of nights a week. But you CANNOT be the evening pickup - someone else needs to cover that (spouse or nanny) and if you make it home that’s gravy.

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Re: Biglaw parents of young children: how do you manage?

Postby Traynor Brah » Tue Apr 24, 2018 8:58 am

Anonymous User wrote:It is absolutely possible to be a biglaw corporate associate and a primary caregiver. I work with many people who do it. Personally, I am able to leave by 5 most days, and most of my colleagues do the same. Different firms have different facetime requirements. It sounds like some other people here are expected to be around until 7. At my firm nobody ever cares where you are and it's not common for someone to be at the office until 7. I push toward closing on stressful deals all the team without being in the office after 5:30.

The bigger issue is the idea of being unavailable between 5-7:30. That's not going to work.

this post is completely alien to me

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Re: Biglaw parents of young children: how do you manage?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Apr 25, 2018 7:16 am

OP here. Thank you all for your helpful insight. I was mainly concerned about a strict facetime requirement, which I understand will depend a lot on the firm and the partner. I do have a supportive spouse who could do pickups, so thank you to the poster who mentioned doing drop-offs in the morning instead. This will probably work much better.

As to doing litigation instead of corporate, I have a specific background that will help me find a position in-house later on. So the idea is to do this for a few years and then go in-house.

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Re: Biglaw parents of young children: how do you manage?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Apr 25, 2018 10:29 am

I have a toddler and I’m a mid level m&a associate in a big firm on the West Coast. We have little facetime requirement which has proven to be extremely great when you have kids. I don’t have much to addd besides what’s being said above. I think you just need to figure out childcare in the evenings and on the weekends for when you get really busy and can’t get away from your computer at all. Sounds like your spouse can handle it, but sometimes they need a break too, so it might be good to get some backup nannies lined up.

Also, just because you don’t have to look after your kids doesn’t mean that you don’t want to. I had to work a lot of nights and weekends last year (like non stop weekend work), and even though my SO and other family members were able to completely take care of my child, I often felt very depressed when I was working those hours because I wanted to put my child to bed at night and spend time with him on the weekends. So just be prepared for some emotional distress.

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Re: Biglaw parents of young children: how do you manage?

Postby gregfootball2001 » Thu Apr 26, 2018 5:20 pm

Corporate junior at v50. Agreed that mornings are the easiest time - I do drop-off. I couldn't be the one primarily responsible for pick-up. That being said, your lifestyle will depend on your group. Most weeks, 2-3 times a week, I go home for dinner and log back on after he's asleep. Certainly there will be crazy times, but it's not every day that something has to be done right away. Also, a lot of my work comes from other offices, so they don't care where I am. YMMV, so figure out what works for your office.



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