Child Care

‘This one is about being successful and having breasts… at the same time!’ – an anonymous Biglaw chair-elect’s babysitter

You have to have good child care. A good marriage is nice; great child care is indispensable.

Jami Wintz McKeon, the first female chair-elect of Morgan Lewis & Bockius, explaining “how she does it” during a speech at the 8th Annual Women’s Leadership Luncheon. By “it,” McKeon meant being a mother of four and being in charge of a 1,400-lawyer Biglaw firm at the same time.

I got a raise when I had my baby, which was a very nice gesture from the Breaking Media CEO. It was also the only way I could keep working here. You see, child care costs are such in this city that before my raise I would have saved money by quitting my job and taking care of the baby full time, instead of having to pay somebody to look after him while I’m at work. Now, I’m a little bit past the break-even point, so I take what they pay me, give it to my creditors and my child’s nanny (we can only afford to have her for 30 hours a week, but I’ve gotten much better at typing with one hand, as I’m doing right now), and have a little bit left over to buy liquor and ad-free porn (err… typing practice). My wife’s salary handles all the rest — trivial items such as “rent” and “food.”

So yeah, I pretty much write every day just because I love spending time with you guys [weeping softly].

It turns out, I’m not alone. An article in the New York Times details the child-care squeeze on middle-class families. We’re not talking about “working poor” families who have always struggled with child care costs while Republicans berate them for not pulling themselves up by their bootstraps. The article focuses on mothers with good jobs, professors and lawyers, who can’t really afford to pay someone to take care of their brood.

I suppose it’s not really a “Biglaw” problem. If you have one of those jobs, you can probably afford child care, or (more likely) afford for your spouse not to work. But if you don’t cash in with Biglaw, you’d probably settle for having your kids raised by wolves if the wolves came cheap….

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Friendly reminder: Mother’s Day is this Sunday. If you haven’t done so already, you should buy your cards or gifts — and make your brunch reservations — NOW.

In honor of this occasion, we bring you an interview with a working mother whose professional journey is nothing short of remarkable. She went from working as a law firm switchboard operator to becoming the first woman partner of Cravath, Swaine & Moore….

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* Let’s be honest, if it wasn’t for 9/11, we’d already be allowed to leave our cellphones on during flights because before 9/11 we weren’t beaten and cowed by the rights abusing airline industry. [The Legal Satyricon]

* “The Child Support Lady” is the lady that helps Dads avoid paying child support by representing fathers. I think I’d prefer the child support lady who helps Dads avoid paying child support by passing out condoms. [Miami Herald]

* Check out his warning label on a doormat. [Overlawyered]

* Christmas isn’t a deadweight economic loss, because sometimes people surprise you. [Daily Beast]

* And now for the obligatory “look how lawyers would ruin Christmas if they could” posts. First, the oldie but goodie. [Tax Prof Blog]

* And now here’s an issue spotter about Santa Claus. [Constitutional Daily]

There’s a very interesting debate coming out of Washington State: Should universities do more to provide child care for students with children? On Monday, parents across the University of Washington system brought their kids to class to protest the lack of child care options in the area.

It’s an important question. According to the Seattle Times, child care is the third-greatest barrier to completing a college degree.

It’s a problem for law students too. The University of Washington School of Law has been taking an aggressive approach to finding family-friendly options for its students.

But is this something that law schools should be concerning themselves with? It’s time to fire up the old ATL Debate Machine….

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The New York State Senate yesterday passed its version of the Nanny Law. If signed by Governor Paterson, the law would require employers to give domestic workers paid vacation and sick days, as well as 14 days notice before termination. The benefits would apply to legal and illegal immigrants.

Essentially, it would require people to treat domestic employees like employees instead of serfs.

It sounds like a wonderful law. It sounds like the right thing to do. It sounds … utterly unenforceable. On True/Slant, Claudia Deutsch points out:

Sure, it sounds compassionate and embracing to say that anyone, legal or not, should have a right to recourse if they are being exploited. But how exactly does an illegal immigrant sue an employer without outing himself/herself? I can see a worst-case scenario if this passes, whereby people who currently employ citizens and legals might actively seek illegals, just to avoid the cost and paperwork.

Enforcing this law will be somebody else’s problem. But for the Biglaw families out there, the real question is whether this law will cause unnecessary problems in a market that already seems to work pretty efficiently….

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