Work/life balance

This week, the legal world has been buzzing over the New Republic’s exposé on the troubles of Biglaw, told through the tale of the long-suffering Mayer Brown. Our managing editor David Lat wondered if being a partner was the worst job in Biglaw, prompting some raised eyebrows. “Yeah, being a partner is so much worse than being an associate,” said a sarcastic commenter.

Sure, being a Biglaw partner right now isn’t “all peaches and cream,” but for most Biglaw associates — female associates especially — it never was. In fact, in our last discussion of the New Republic piece, very little attention was paid to the plight of one Mayer Brown associate in particular: the woman who was laid off during her maternity leave after surviving two prior rounds of layoffs.

The fragile state of the Biglaw world is such that women who dare to do crazy things like get pregnant must worry about whether they’ve put their jobs on the line. But just how bad is it to be pregnant at an Am Law 200 firm? It couldn’t be worse than being a partner, could it?

It could, and it is…

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Ed. note: This is the latest installment of The ATL Interrogatories, brought to you by Lateral Link. This recurring feature will give notable law firm partners an opportunity to share insights and experiences about the legal profession and careers in law, as well as about their firms and themselves.

Rob Romanoff is Managing Partner of Chicago-based Levenfeld Pearlstein, LLC. He is also a partner in the firm’s Trusts & Estates Group. Rob has extensive experience in estate, gift and income tax planning and broad-based wealth transfer planning for high net worth individuals and owners of closely held businesses and their families. Rob is a fellow in the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC).

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Whenever we talk about the difficulty of being a woman in Biglaw, some guy (it’s almost always “some guy”) makes an unenlightened comment about how women “get” to leave early and go take care of domestic responsibilities while men “have to” stay and do work. People talk about how women will pump out children and have to take care of them while men will miss baseball games to service the client.

The obvious issue with work/life balance for women who are gunning for partner is that there are some weak-ass husbands out there. Men who want to make partner often have wives or partners at home who are happy to take care of the home front. Women who want to make partner are often on their own; their husbands have their own careers to focus on. Even if they marry men with “non-traditional” careers, few husbands want to be known as “just a house husband.”

But maybe career women don’t want house husbands? A new study suggests that a significant minority of women don’t want to work to support a man….

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Pop quiz, hotshot. A federal judge issues an order to show cause that you should be “sanctioned for repeated failure to prosecute cases” and “barred from practicing in this District.” What do you do? What do you do?

The correct answer begins with “responding,” obviously. And when you’re in trouble over “failure to prosecute,” maybe that should light a fire under you to respond thoroughly and on time.

Yeah… this guy didn’t. Instead he provided a detailed, if legally irrelevant, explanation of how he was just too busy to worry about responding on time. Think of this as “Prelude to a Benchslap”…

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Every now and again, attorneys email into Dear Prudence over on Slate and ask the columnist for advice. Then we here at Above the Law read that advice and offer our own, unsolicited versions. It’s fun. It’s like being a know-it-all at a beer garden when somebody mutters “I’ll have a Sam’s” when there’s Goose Island right there on tap.

Today, we have an embarrassment of riches; two attorneys have appeared in recent Dear Prudence columns. They sound entitled and confused, suspicious but trusting, fun for the whole family…

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* In the Western District of Arkansas, judges have to forfeit judicial immunity to go to the bathroom. So if you want to sue a judge, you need to catch them when their pants are literally down. [Hercules and the Umpire]

* Bowman v. Monsanto… in GIFs! [EffYeahSCOTUS]

* Cooley boy makes good! President Obama nominated Christopher Thomas, a Cooley Law School grad and professor, to the Presidential Commission on Election Administration. [White House]

* A judge threw out the fine against a New York artist as unconstitutionally harsh. The artist took an antenna from the trash and cops impounded his car and fined him $2,000. [Thompson Reuters News & Insight]

* The Ninth Circuit struck down Arizona’s “Fetal Pain” Abortion Ban. Sounds like a viable decision. [PrawfsBlawg]

* Work/life balance is when lawyers with kids throw their childless colleagues under a bus. [Slate]

* If you’re reading transcripts of old trials and think the lawyers of yesteryear were smarter, you’re probably right. Western civilization has gotten dumber since the nineteenth century. The reason is summarized by the video after the jump….

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Ed. note: This is the latest installment of The ATL Interrogatories. This recurring feature will give notable law firm partners an opportunity to share insights and experiences about the legal profession and careers in law, as well as about their firms and themselves.

Jim Maiwurm, chair and global CEO of Squire Sanders, has more than 30 years of experience as a business and transactional lawyer. His work involves the representation of a diverse range of businesses — from technology startups to Fortune 50 manufacturers — in private equity infusions, public offerings and sophisticated domestic and international acquisitions, dispositions, financings and joint ventures.

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Ed. note: This is the latest installment of The ATL Interrogatories. This recurring feature will give notable law firm partners an opportunity to share insights and experiences about the legal profession and careers in law, as well as about their firms and themselves.

Larren Nashelsky is the chair of Morrison & Foerster. Prior to becoming chair, Mr. Nashelsky focused his practice on U.S. and international restructurings, including Chapter 11 reorganizations, workouts, restructurings, secured financings and distressed acquisitions and investments. Larren is a graduate of Hofstra University School of Law.

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* We know you’re all excited about the new RANKINGS, but tonight is also the LAST NIGHT to vote for Law Revue finalists. [Above the Law]

* “It’s totally reasonable to spend $75 just for a shot at an unpaid internship,” said no one ever. [Craigslist] UPDATE: The crafty employer took it down already. But they didn’t count on me getting a screenshot and transcribing it. Check it out after the jump!

* Kirkland & Ellis (or any Biglaw firm) handing out advice on women and “work/life balance” should elicit exactly this response. [UChiLawGo]

* Reading Above the Law can make you money. Sure, it’s only by boosting your severance package, but… [A Paralegal's Life]

* Several law school professors were recruited from prison. So if you’re hoping to get tenure… [Dallas Blog]

* Pirate Bay is still out there hopping around the Caribbean to avoid prosecution. Just like real-life, well, you know. [IBTimes]

* Running over a bicyclist? Accomplishment unlocked for some real-life GTA players. [Legal Juice]

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Justice Sonia Sotomayor is not a fan of the “having it all” concept. As she wrote in her recent (and excellent) memoir, My Beloved World (affiliate link), “having it all, career and family, with no sacrifice to either… is the myth we would do well to abandon, together with the pernicious notion that a woman who chooses one or the other is somehow deficient.”

Even though their panel had the phrase “Having It All” in the title, the participants in an interesting discussion on work/life balance at last week’s big NALP conference would probably agree. One theme that ran through the discussion was that sacrifices, on the work front or home front or both, are inevitable — and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Still, the panel’s emphasis on the need for working parents to rid themselves of guilt didn’t stop some people from shedding a few tears during the discussion….

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