Biglaw, Feminism, Gender, Kids, Pregnancy / Paternity, Women's Issues

Biglaw Baby Making 101

There’s been so much talk of Biglaw women and baby making floating around the blogosphere this week that I think there must have been a “repopulate the species” action memo in US Weekly. Existentially, I blame the season. It’s January, and childless professional women just went through another holiday season getting bombarded with images of children on television (to say nothing of little nieces or nephews that might have been swarming like locusts when they visited family). They return back to their regularly scheduled lives, many of them with raises or bonuses for the new year, and now they’re looking around at their barren apartments and thinking, “What am I missing?”

You’ll see the same thing happen to men… after the Superbowl. They’ll watch the game and have fond memories of their dad or uncle or somebody teaching them fun things they can do with balls. Then post-Superbowl depression will set in, and you’ll see men sleepwalking through “honey-do” errands with vacant, suicidal looks on their faces. They’ll look around at fathers who don’t even seem to care which NCAA teams are on the bubble, and they’ll think, “What am I missing?”

But this week it’s women who are having replication pangs. Clear as I can tell, Vivia Chen on The Careerist started the ball rolling in the legal blogosphere by repackaging a Slate XX Factor article (by Dahlia Lithwick) that featured one woman telling other women that they were hobbling their careers by planning for a family before they had one.

And since women generally can’t stand to even be in the same room with each other, it wasn’t too long before everybody was rolling out their best women-dogging-other-women content….

After Chen reminded everybody to consider whether their wombs were ticking time bombs, Yale law professor Amy Chua told professional women that even if they managed to reproduce, they would likely ruin their children (unless of course they went out of their way to ruin their children’s childhoods, in which case the kids would live happily ever after for at least the first 15 years). At that point, ATL’s own therapist Will Meyerhofer joined the fray. He reminded women that law was a terrible field to go into if you wanted to raise a family (or even be a well-adjusted human being), whether you are a man or a woman.

I was going to stay far away from this topic because J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, JETS I’m already on record as saying that I don’t think men or women can’t “have it all” and that the pursuit of “it all” is all kinds of dumb. Also it’s been months since my entire Y chromosome has been eviscerated by commenters on Jezebel and I kind of wanted to keep it that way.

But our friend at Corporette, Kat Griffin, asked a really useful question that I think ATL readers might be able to help with:

For those of you *with* kids — what’s your advice to those of us without kids? Plan ahead? Roll with the punches? What job benefits have you found absolutely essential to you as a mother? Flex time? Ability to work from home? For those of you who quit jobs over lack of certain benefits, or if you have a wishlist of benefits, which ones would you like to see?

I like this question because it focuses us on what women do right, instead of what women do wrong. It asks what makes things easier without asking how to change the fundamental structure of Biglaw in nine months. Instead of screaming “you’re doing it wrong,” let’s look at what works.


Obviously, I’ve got no great answers for this question. I don’t have kids, and more importantly, my wife doesn’t have kids. And should the “miracle of life” suddenly show up like a little bundle of Napalm on my DINK existence, I’m already set up to be the “flex-time parent.” Arguably, my wife could pump out the kid in the maternity stall and go right back to work, I can be the one who is around to make sure the kid gets — I don’t know, whatever it is you’re supposed to give it to make it stop shouting at you and pass out in its little drawer (don’t judge, I live in New York City, a drawer is really just a Murphy Bed in crib form). Clear as I can tell, my professional goals (Dean of Above the Law Law School, of course) don’t conflict with my parenting goals (raising a kid who doesn’t go to law school because it can’t think of anything better to do).

Can Biglaw women say the same? If so, tell us how. How did you make it work? Or how do you plan on making it work? And if you don’t plan on making it work, tell us which master will get the short straw, your career or your family? (It’s okay, you’re anonymous, nobody will judge you if you have reptilian maternal instincts.)

Tell us what you think, because regardless of whether or not you think it is wise, some women will try to have a fulfilling legal career and a fulfilling family life. What are some best practices for making that happen?

Planning for Babies [Corporette]

Earlier: Yale Law Professor Amy Chua Writes in Praise of Crazy Asian Moms
Work/Life Whatever and Ten Missing Minutes of Tape
Female Lawyers, Can You Have It All?

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