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Women and law graduate overproduction

[ 66 ] November 20, 2012 |

Departure memo sent by a former junior associate at a large law firm:

CLIFFORD CHANCE — A MOTHER’S DEPARTURE MEMO

A day in the life of Ms. X (and many others here, I presume):

4:00am: Hear baby screaming, hope I am dreaming, realize I’m not, sleep walk to nursery, give her a pacifier and put her back to sleep
4:45am: Finally get back to bed
5:30am: Alarm goes off, hit snooze
6:00am: See the shadow of a small person standing at my bedroom door, realize it is my son who has wet the bed (time to change the sheets)
6:15am: Hear baby screaming, make a bottle, turn on another excruciating episode of Backyardigans, feed baby
7:00am: Find some clean clothes for the kids, get them dressed
7:30am: Realize that I am still in my pajamas and haven’t showered, so pull hair back in a ponytail and throw on a suit
8:00am: Pile into the car, drive the kids to daycare
8:15am: TRAFFIC
9:00am: finally arrive at daycare, baby spits up on suit, get kids to their classrooms, realize I have a conference call in 15 minutes
9:20am: Run into my office, dial-in to conference call 5 minutes late and realize that no one would have known whether or not I was on the call, but take notes anyway
9:30am: Get an email that my time is late, Again! Enter my time
10:00am: Team meeting; leave with a 50-item to-do list
11:00am: Attempt to prioritize to-do list and start tasks; start an email delegating a portion of the tasks (then, remember there is no one under me)
2:00pm: Realize I forgot to eat lunch, so go to the 9th floor kitchen to score some leftovers
2:30pm: Get a frantic email from a client needing an answer to a question by COB today
2:45pm: postpone work on task number 2 of 50 from to-do list and attempt to draft a response to client’s question
4:30pm: send draft response to Senior Associate and Partner for review
5:00pm: receive conflicting comments from Senior Associate and Partner (one in new version and one in track changes); attempt to reconcile; send redline
5:30pm: wait for approval to send response to client; realize that I am going to be late picking up the kids from daycare ($5 for each minute late)
5:50pm: get approval; quickly send response to client
6:00pm: race to daycare to get the kids (they are the last two there)
6:30pm: TRAFFIC with a side of screaming kids who are starving
7:15pm: Finally arrive home, throw chicken nuggets in the microwave, feed the family
7:45pm: Negotiate with husband over who will do bathtime and bedtime routine; lose
8:00pm: Bath, pajamas, books, bed
9:00pm: Kids are finally asleep, check blackberry and have 25 unread messages
9:15pm: Make a cup of coffee and open laptop; login to Citrix
9:45pm: Citrix finally loads; start task number 2
11:30pm: Wake up and realize I fell asleep at my desk; make more coffee; get through task number 3
1:00am: Jump in the shower (lord knows I won’t have time in the morning)
1:30am: Finally go to bed

REPEAT

Needless to say, I have not been able to simultaneously meet the demands of career and family, so have chosen to leave private practice, and the practice of law (at least for now). I truly admire all of you that have been able to juggle your career and family and do not envy what a challenge it is trying to do each well. I appreciate those of you who have been incredibly understanding of my family obligations over the past few years, and especially the last several months. I have learned so much from so many of you and hope to keep in touch for years to come (a special thank you to A, W, G and D). Please call or email anytime – my personal contact information is listed below.

Total law school enrollment in 1971-72 (JD students): 91,225

Total law school enrollment in 2011-12 (JD): 146,288

Increase in law school enrollment between 1971 and 2011: 60.4%

The U.S. population increased by 51.2% between 1971 and 2011. This means that over the past 40 years law school enrollment has grown 18% faster than the US population as a whole.

However the real rate of increase in law school enrollment, relative to the size of the population cohort from which almost all law students are drawn, has been much faster:

Approximate number of people ages 22-33 in 1971: 32 million.

Approximate number of people ages 22-33 in 2011: 44.4 million. The population of people ages 22-33 was only 30.6% higher in 2011 than in 1971 – not 51.2%. (This is because by 1971 the front end of the baby boom had reached law school-attending age). So enrollment in law school has increased twice as fast over the past four decades as has the population cohort from which the vast majority of law students are drawn.

If we assume 90% of J.D. students are between the ages of 22-33, there were 82,103 such students in 1971 and 131,659 such students in 2011. This would mean .24% of people between the ages of 22-33 were JD students in 1971, and .30% of people between the ages of 22-33 were JD students in 2011. This means the odds that today somebody in the core population cohort from which law students are drawn is going to law school are about 25% higher than they were in 1971.

But phrasing the matter in this way obscures a key demographic development: Men are significantly less likely to go to law school today than they were 40 years ago, while women are vastly more likely to do so (The latter point is well understood. The former would, I think, come as a surprise to most people).

There were about 17 million men in the core age cohort for law school attendance in 1971. Assuming 90% of the men attending law school in 1971 were in this age group, this means 74,392 men ages 22-33 were attending law school in 1971. Thus approximately .44% of men in the core age cohort in the US were attending law school in 1971. There were approximately 22.2 million men in the core age cohort for attending law school in 2011. Assuming 90% of the men attending law school were in this age group, 70,223 such men were attending law school in 2011. Approximately .32% of men in the core age cohort in the US were attending law school in 2011. A man of prime law school attending age was 27.3% less likely to be enrolled in law school in 2011 than in 1971.

Assuming 90% of the women attending law school in 1971 were between 22 and 33 years old, there were 7,737 such women. There were about 17 million women in the core age cohort for law school attendance in 1971. Thus approximately .046% of women in the core age cohort in the US were attending law school in 1971. There were about 22.2 million women in the core age cohort for attending law school in 2011. Assuming 90% of women attending law school were in this age group, 61,436 such women were attending law school in 2011. Approximately .28% of women in the core age cohort in the US for law school attendance were attending law school in 2011. A woman of prime law school attending age was 508.7% more likely to be enrolled in law school in 2011 than in 1971.

What this means is that more than 100% of the growth in JD enrollment at ABA law schools over the past 40 years is accounted for by the increasing number of women going to law school. There were 55,063 more JD students at ABA law schools in 2011 than 1971. 59,665 more women were enrolled as JD students in ABA law schools in 2011 than in 1971, while 4,632 fewer men were enrolled as JD students in ABA law schools in 2011 than in 1971.

Holding everything else constant, if the gender ratio between men and women law students had remained the same over the past 40 years there would have been about 86,141 people enrolled as JD students in ABA law schools in 2011, and about 24,498 people would have graduated from those schools. This number of graduates is approximately 12% higher than the total number of new jobs for lawyers (21,880) the BLS estimates will become available on average per year for lawyers between 2010 and 2020.

Clearly, the fact that law schools have produced an enormous oversupply of people with law degrees over the course of the last generation has an extremely significant gender component. These statistics raise all sorts of questions, and in particular this one: To what extent has legal academia’s over-expansion depended on the exploitation of the career aspirations of women in particular? Note that there’s all sorts of evidence that egalitarian gender practices in regard to law school admissions have had a remarkably muted effect in regard to making law less of a male-dominated profession (For example, 35 years after women started going to law school in numbers not much smaller than men, 85% of the partners and 95% of the managing partners at large law firms are men).

Have law schools managed to expand far beyond the actual economic demand for law degrees in large part because of an always unstated and usually unconscious assumption that comparatively large numbers of women law graduates would drop out of the profession within a few years of graduation? One of the very few longitudinal studies of law graduate career paths suggests strongly this is the case. This study of the University of Virginia Law School class of 1990 found that while, 17 years after graduation, 98.7% of the men who responded to the survey were working full-time, approximately 63% of the women respondents who had had at least one child were not practicing law full-time. (By contrast, there was literally no correlation between the number of children a man had had and the likelihood that he would be employed full-time).

Obviously this is a complex and fraught topic, which for that reason ought to be the subject of much further study.

Comments (66)

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  1. JL says:

    I know this is slightly tangential to your point but I think it’s important to say:

    I’m sure that some jackass will read that and claim that this is why mothers can’t “have it all” (by which they mean the basics of children + paid employment, which fathers have been having for quite a long time) and clearly there’s no sexism left in law firms, women are underrepresented because they can’t handle the pressure. Where by “some jackass” I mean half the people who read it.

    When I read it, I want to know where the hell the father, who is mentioned during the 7:45pm entry, is during all this. The only time he comes up is in the context of refusing to do the one childcare task that he was asked to do during the day. Why can’t he do any of the childcare/domestic stuff that this poor woman is burdened with? Heck, I did some of these childcare tasks frequently as a 14-16 year/old kid, when stepdad was on business trips, to ease the burden on my law student mother.

    • Linnaeus says:

      When I read it, I want to know where the hell the father, who is mentioned during the 7:45pm entry, is during all this.

      That was pretty much the first thought I had as well.

      • thusbloggedanderson says:

        Yeah, “your real problem is that your husband is an asshole” is perhaps not the message Campos meant to convey here, but it’s the main takeaway.

        If she’s a lawyer, and his job is so important and productive that he has zero role in taking care of his family, then he should be hiring a freakin’ nanny. And if his job + hers doesn’t allow for that, then his grandiose notions of his own importance require adjustment.

        • Sherm says:

          If she’s a lawyer, and his job is so important and productive that he has zero role in taking care of his family, then he should be hiring a freakin’ nanny

          This is unfortunately true. There is no way this poor woman had a chance to meet the demanding requirements of the job she took under these circumstances.

          • rea says:

            the demanding requirements of the job

            Reread her narrative, and identify how many of the tasks she performed at her job had a point.

            • Sherm says:

              That she did next to nothing that day doesn’t change the fact that an associate position at a big firm is a demanding job.

              • djanglermust says:

                yes, it does.

              • rea says:

                It’s a job way more demanding than it needs to be.

                • ajay says:

                  If you take out all the kid-related stuff, it’s not a particularly killer schedule. Start work at 9.30, leave work at 6, an hour or so of work at home in the evening. Perfectly achievable.

                • Sherm says:

                  ajay, doing that schedule at a big firm would get her canned in no time.

                • Craigo says:

                  Yeah, that discussion of billable hours below? 2000 is now the minimum in BigLaw, more or less, and many small-to-medium firms.

                • rea says:

                  And my point is, if you look at what she actually did, she did a bit of work on a client emergency. The fact that her respsone had to pass through two levels of review before the client got it greatly compounded the amount of work, but didn’t really add any value. She also had a teleconerence at which nobody cared what happened, and a “team meeting” that produced a 50-item “to do” list, that just reeks of bs. It sounds like she practicing bureaucracy, not law.

                • ajay says:

                  ajay, doing that schedule at a big firm would get her canned in no time.

                  Sherm, look at the note. She was doing that schedule at a big firm. She got into work at 9.20. She left work at 6.

            • Steph says:

              We don’t actually know that, given that we don’t know what her post-meeting tasks were or what the client’s question was.

              It’s true that meetings and conference calls (especially large ones) can be a huge waste of time and that junior associates in big firms do a lot of stuff that isn’t exactly stimulating, but it was written in a way to play that up and without any actual specifics.

        • mpowell says:

          Well, an alternative way of looking at this is that it’s possible her job doesn’t justify daycare + nanny. From a purely financial perspective, his income just has to exceed hers for this to make sense. This kind of logic has a lot to do with why gender inequity will continue to exist in American households. But the real problem here is jobs demanding these kinds of work hours. You’re not really parenting if this is your schedule and it’s bad enough for one parent to have this kind of schedule, let alone both.

          • Emily says:

            What is daycare + nanny? A daycare during the day AND nanny at night? People may underestimate how much time a nanny frees up compared to daycare. No added commute, don’t have to get kids dressed in the morning. They can have dinner at 5pm before you get home, etc. Her job doesn’t necessarily have to cover daycare and a nanny, and a big law associate would, I think, be able to afford a nanny, certainly would if her husband made as much or more than her (I suppose depending on student loan and mortgage payments being not unreasonable?).

            I have always said I have no idea how two firm lawyers raise children. I think it’s impossible and can’t think of anyone I know who’s done it. Honestly, I think it’s really hard for a firm lawyer to have a spouse who works full time at all. My husband left his firm before we had children. It was not a coincidence.

            And I went to one of those law schools that everyone exempts from the “is it worth it” discussion.

            [True story - my friend was doing an interview at a large NY firm as a 2L; she went out to lunch with a partner who told her most women wait until they become partners to have children. Friend thought he would say that they had more flexibility/control over their schedule at that point. Nope. He said, once you're a partner you're making so much money "you need one nanny, you get one nanny; you need two nannies, you get two nannies." Friend was not impressed.]

          • Steph says:

            That’s the answer to a lot of the continuing sex imbalance at law firms, especially large law firms.

            A large number of women lawyers, IME, marry people they meet at school or work or otherwise other lawyers (a lot of their social circle is likely lawyers) or other similar professionals. Thus, their husbands make similar salaries or more (assuming that they are a bit older, especially). Add to that that there is greater stigma still (and more so a few years ago) to men reducing hours due to children and more acceptability to women taking jobs, such as public interest or the like, that pay less, and that most large law firm jobs require that one really care about making a high salary, and you get a situation where the husband is likely to make at least as much or probably more than the wife and it just seems to make sense for the wife to take some years off or go to a different job.

            Going to a non-big-firm legal job is often not a bad decision at all if you have the flexibility to do so, which presumably having a husband with a higher salary helps with.

            It’s not necessarily a bad thing that a significant number of women with law degrees take time off, assuming they can return to a good job if they want it, and the stats given don’t address that. It’s unfortunate that big firms aren’t as conducive to a reasonable quality of life as one might want, but that’s primarily a sex thing only because men aren’t demanding it in large enough numbers so that there’s any call to change, especially since the model has long been that most associates will leave before partnership.

      • Steph says:

        Mine too.

    • Richard Hershberger says:

      “I want to know where the hell the father, who is mentioned during the 7:45pm entry, is during all this.”

      Presumably, bitching about having to wait to 7:15 for his dinner.

      But yeah, the same thing struck me. This is a single mom’s schedule, except she has to feed the dad, too.

      • Emily says:

        Interesting. I assumed that “feed family” was just the kids because – chicken nuggets. I didn’t see feeding herself or her husband in the schedule at all. Figured she was probably eating warmed up left over take-out at her computer at 11pm.

      • mch says:

        welcome to the world of all married women.

    • Craigo says:

      Thank you. Up until that point I had assumed she was single.

      • Ruviana says:

        Yep, until I got to that entry I thought she was a single mom juggling all this. Still, reading it makes me glad I never followed through on a fleeting whim to go to law school when I was in college.

    • Sherm says:

      In defense of men and as a husband of a lawyer who quit practicing law years ago (while I continued to do so), perhaps that poor bastard is under even greater stress at work, works even longer hours and helps out at home at other times, and in other ways not listed. Lets not judge without the facts. No one has it easy these days.

      • Paul Campos says:

        Right. And as the UVA study makes clear, the problem is structural: Male lawyers don’t quit their jobs or go part-time to take care of children, and women lawyers do. Of course this isn’t unique to lawyers but it’s a particularly striking dynamic within the profession.

        • Sherm says:

          Male lawyers don’t quit their jobs or go part-time to take care of children, and women lawyers do.

          This is unfortunately true, and from my own experience it seems that women do so not simply for childcare reasons or because their husbands are assholes, but because they do not enjoy practicing law and they are still young enough to do something about it. Having children often prompts self-reflection in women and allows them to reassess their situation and to leave a profession that they were never happy with in the first instance. In some ways, and on account of antiquated roles, women have more career flexibility than men in this respect. Its more acceptable for women to leave the profession and to look for something else after starting a family, whereas men are expected to double down on their careers.

          • L2P says:

            +1

            Also, for everyone on the “the husband is an asshole” bandwagon, some thoughts.

            Many of my wife’s friends blamed childcare issues for giving up a law practice, but most of them didn’t love being lawyers and had husbands who easily made enout money for them to give up working. This writer seems to fall in this category.

            The choices are usually bad for women; if they ask their spouse to put in more st home, their career suffers and the family as a whole is worse off. The husband is usually more than willing to do more. Usually the wworking mom is, too. but what are you supposed to do with a 70 hour work week and only so many hours in the day?

            I think most people don’t understand what a 2200 billable hour requirement means. When most people work “60 hours a week,” they are working 8-6 and maybe a half-day on a weekend sometimes. That’s the Basic Schedule for a big firm lawyer. Any big project means you work 7-10 and both weekends for weeks.

            So this email, to me, is just somebody facing up to not liking the way her life is going to be if they both work as firm lawyers. That’s a choice most couples make.

            • Anonymous says:

              That’s a choice most couples make.

              What you and Sherm are (willfully or no) failing to understand, is that it isn’t a “choice” when that choice is constrained, doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and invariably ends up with women losing out on careers because of the gendered division of labor at home and at the office.

              Women (who are married and have children) don’t have “more flexibility” than single or married with children men, they have too many responsibilities to start with and ultimately are forced to give one or more up.

          • Steph says:

            It’s also more acceptable for women to say law is fine, but I don’t want to do this particular job just for the money. I know several couples where the women took a different and more interesting legal job that also happened to have better hours or be open to part time, where the couple decided (often I think not the first wishes of the husband) that they needed the salary from the big firm job also, so he shouldn’t do something similar.

            On the other hand, I’ve met more men (although also a number of women) who seemed to fit well within the big firm environment, and part of that is how much being a professional success in that particular way tends to be a positive for you.

      • JL says:

        If they’re both high-powered corporate lawyers or similar (which I could certainly believe) they should have the income to hire some domestic/childcare help.

        Even if he’s as stressed or more stressed than she is, he could at least take one of the “Kid wakes up in the middle of the night and needs to be dealt with” slots.

    • sb says:

      Wondered about the husband too.

      But here’s the thing: I don’t believe her. (I’m one of the jackasses mentioned by JL!)

      With 2 kids an au pair is cheaper and it saves her at least 2 hours a day. A 6 month old will take a sippy cup at night.

      Kids don’t pee the bed every night. If they do you can save an hour doing pull ups. If they sleep on a twin you can save 30 minutes by moving them to the opposite end of the bed.

      She can go to bed at midnight and get 7 hours of sleep. It means that she can put the kids to bed at 8:30 and knock off 3 hours of work. (Citrix doesn’t take 30 minutes to load.)

      She can do this job and raise her kids. She doesn’t want to do that. I don’t blame her – raising kids is fun.

      I envy her for having a choice. I don’t. I’m a single father with 4 kids and I work full time. Her husband is affording her that choice. I’d very happy with a wife that did that for me. He might also be an unhelpful dick, but I’m not convinced based on the other stuff she says here.

  2. thusbloggedanderson says:

    Part of the problem may be, where one’s practicing law.

    I’m fortunate to be at a fairly laid-back firm in Mississippi, 50-60 lawyers at any given time, where no one’s required to bill 2,000 hours a year (though if you want a bonus, that’s not a bad target). I’ve worked closely with a female lawyer who’s had two children while working here and has had plenty of support from work – flexible hours, etc. (She’s also had a supportive husband and nearby family who can pitch in when needed.) She made shareholder last year when I did, and is recognized for her excellent work in her field of law.

    Anecdote != data, etc.

    • Craigo says:

      My office is a very minor outpost of a very large firm, but just last month we had a longtime associate move laterally to a less demanding, less lucrative position – partially because other associates and partners in California have no concept that COB there is 8 pm here, or that day-care isn’t and shouldn’t be 24 hours.

  3. Doug M. says:

    “(though if you want a bonus, that’s not a bad target).”

    I am old enough to remember when 1600 hours a year was considered reasonable, 1800 was rather a lot, and 2000 was reserved for partners who could assign themselves days and days of trial work plus a handful of supergrinds.

    I’m sure someone has been tracking the evolution of billability over the years. I have the distinct impression that expectations have risen steadily; I’d be interested to see if the figures bear that out.

    Doug M.

    • rea says:

      Top biller at my old firm hit 6000 hours a year, regularly. Not sure how he managed that . . .

        • ajay says:

          Yes, I’d go for fraud too. 16.4 hours a day every day of the year? No. Amazing that no one picked up on that.

        • rea says:

          I don’t know that it qualified as “fraud”–the insurance companies for whom he worked had to understand he was doing it. He would do mass production-style work on worker’s compenstion claims at relatively low hourly rates. Lots of time billed to multiple files . . .

          • Sherm says:

            He must have been triple billing his time on court appearances by appearing on several matters simultaneously for different carriers.

            • rea says:

              10 pretrials in a town 80 miles away–bill travel time to all 10 files–and dictate correspondecne while driving . . .

              • Sherm says:

                That’s clearly fraudulent in my opinion, and that’s the only way you can bill those kinds of hours.

                I imagine that this occurred quite some years ago. The carriers are much stricter these days and often have outside auditors reviewing the lawyers’ bills.

                • L2P says:

                  The rules on billing changed. It used to be you could travel for one client and bill for the travel time, do work for another client while traveling and bill for that work. The theory was both got what they paid for.

                  Then they changed the rules and declared unethical to bill a client while performing work for another at any time. This happened in the late 80s in most juisdictions so I never practiced under it.

          • Craigo says:

            It may not be fraud, but ethically it’s very close to the line.

            • rea says:

              Sick relationship with carrier’s claims representatives. They liked being able to point to his low rates–$50-$60 per hr. They also, I’m afraid, liked having the ability to hold this over his head.

      • Craigo says:

        wtf srsly?

        No, really. Are you serious? That’s a 16 hour day, 365 days a year.

      • Julian says:

        Homer: Okay, before I show you, who wants to guess how I got the money?
        Bart: Dealing drugs?
        Lisa: Drugs?
        Marge: I’ll have to say drugs too.
        Homer: Close, but you’re way off.

      • mpowell says:

        Even if it wasn’t fraud, how are clients so stupid to pay for his time? You have two alternatives 1) he is cheating you. 2) he is overworked and providing you shit service. As your billable hours goes above 2K it’s a certainty that your actual productivity and value/hour is plummeting. One of the problems with our society is that instead of recognizing these basic facts we put these kind of workaholics in charge of everything.

      • Michael H Schneider says:

        No fraud, and no problem: it depends on what the meaning of “hour” is.

        In the same way that psychoanalytical hours are 50 minutes, and that legal paper is 14 inches, custom has redefined ‘hour’ in some jurisdictions to be equal to a number of minutes that may vary between 12 and 34.

        This is all clearly disclosed in section 122, paragraph 347, sub-paragraph NN(19)(k) of the initial agreement between the law firm and the client.

        “Minute” is also, of course, a term defined elsewhere in that agreement. Any client wishing to examine that agreement need only appear in person at the main corporate headquarters in Yellow Knife between the hours of 7 and 7:15 am on any even numbered day in an odd numbered month when the moon is gibbous.

        And some people doubt that most law firms completely fail to add value to the universe.

      • Mrs Tilton says:

        6000 hours? Sweet Zombie Cthulhu! In my first few years in this racket, I was billing slightly more than 3K per. It nearly killed me. These days I’m billing a lot less, and a lot more of it is business development, professional organization work etc. rather than stuff somebody else has to pay for; the proportions vary but taken together it’s a bit north of 2K. That’s still a lot by normal people’s standards, but the idea that somebody is, regularly, billing 6K strains the bounds of credulity; that he is doing so for $50/hr snaps them. (For the benefit of non-lawyers, the amount this guy billed, even assuming 100% realization, is not what he got paid; probably not even close.)

        • rea says:

          Mrs. Tilton–I know it sounds bizarre, but I assure you, I’m not making it up. The low hourly rate reflects that this was a while ago (jeez, I didn’t realize ’97 was quite so long ago until I thought about it), but also that insurance defense work in general and worker’s compensation work in particular involves low hourly rates.

          • Mrs Tilton says:

            Oh, I never thought you were making it up. I’m pretty sure he was, though. That is, he might not have been straight-up billing hours that he had not in fact worked for the client; but if not, then as some have speculated upthread, he was almost certainly exploring creative interpretations of “hour”, and of “worked for the client”.

  4. Downpuppy says:

    I was kind of surprised by the 10% female ratio in 1971, so I looked it up & found a chart.

    Is the dip in % of women over the last 5 years real? Maybe they’re catching on to the problems.

  5. Xeny says:

    First time I have ever commented on a board but this one was too much. I am a partner in a mid sized law firm with two young children at home. The only way I can do this is the fact that my husband and I share the responsibilities of the children and the home 50/50. The real reality of this poor woman’s plight is that her husband is a fucking asshole. That is sad.

    • L2P says:

      He could be. I sure would have pitched in.

      Or he could be perrfectly happy to give up his job and look after the kids, but he makes more money and has a higher ceiling. And theyve found it’s impossible for them to both work and split the childcare duties because they both have jobs that are too demanding. And god knows why but they don’t want a nanny, which would solve their problems. So she’s quitting.

      Or it could be she hates being a lawyer (go figure, right, with so many reasons to love it?), and saying you quit to raise your children is a time-honored way for upper middle class wives to quit the legal profession with no shame. It sure beats toiling away in misery at a job you hate (and nothing in thst email screams “i love being a lawyer”) while somebody else is the room mom at your kids school. I don’t mean to imply this is how things should be, but it’s certainly how things are.

      Or it could be any number of reasons that have nothing to do with her husbands assholery.

      • Anonymous says:

        Or we could just read what she actually wrote, and stop projecting stale arguments about professional women (couldn’t hack it, didn’t care for it, should be raising the chill’un like women are supposed to) when it’s fairly clear her lament is aimed at a job and a culture that can’t accommodate people like her.

  6. erik says:

    Off topic, but I have to disagree with the swipe at the Backyardigans. That was the only little kids show I enjoyed. Some of the songs were actually good. Although that was a few years ago, it could have gone downhill since then.

    • KCA says:

      She may be commenting on the repetition rather than the quality. My toddler inexplicably likes an REM song and I now pray I never hear it again.

    • dollared says:

      Backyardigans rock. They made ages 2-5 tolerable. Musically very literate, and the kids can turn an adult phrase like nobody since Bullwinkle and Rocky.

  7. As I recall own own years with two small children, this describes any working parent’s daily schedule.
    After a few months of this kind of chaos, we wised up and got a nanny.

  8. Frankly says:

    May take away is that I should encourage my sons to go to law school. Even if they don’t do so well a lot of female lawyers will marry dipshits and end up dumping the career for a life at home thereby opening a lot of opportunities for the guys !!

    Wait, that wasn’t your point?

  9. Patricia Greene says:

    My question, what happens when this woman has been out a few years dealing with children — where does she go from there? Getting back in is not easy.

    • thusbloggedanderson says:

      She may not be jobless, just not practicing law. There are supposedly all those wonderful jobs that don’t require a law degree.

  10. mch says:

    Reading the comments (and of course the OP) with intense interest, as my daughter has just finished law school, passed the bar, has a white-shoe job awaiting her (we’re supposed to perform an intervention if she stays beyond the minimum — her reasons for doing law are quite different from what the firm will ask of her), and may have a clerkship take up a year in there. Supportive and wonderful husband, but his goals all need to be figured in — his goals count, too! A few thoughts.

    Women’s biological clocks tick at a different rate from men’s. (May I say here, I look forward to being a grandmother?)
    Nannies as a solution? If children are a product and not a process, that’s fine. How about the pleasure of tucking a child in at night? (Fathers like to do this, too. And enjoy the toddler jumping on the bed in the too-early morning.)
    A housewife (or rare house-herr) who’s dragged herself (himself) through the day of lonely chores may appreciate that tucking in less than the harried professional (or working class with two jobs) parent? I wonder sometimes about that. We need to support one another.
    Is Everybody (who’s employed) working (at “work”) too many hours? Is this all part of a larger question of distribution of training, experience/work wisdom, time? (Thinking Juliet Schor here.)
    The last my my nearly final thought.
    Final thought along the lines, life is hard. We should be trying to work this out together.

  11. Otto Fazomi says:

    Even with the most amazingly engaged partner who carries 50%+ of child care there is no way in hell for anyone, man or woman, to be both an active parent and a ladder climbing professional simultaneously. The two best bluffs around this sad truth are professorial gigs and self employment. Nannies, daycare, stay at home spouses and, later, schooling, outsources the parenting portion. Staying home yourself outsources the professional component. The stress of being the sole earner is awful as is the pain of unmet ambitions. Why not take the bluffs and the cut in pay? Presumably one loves spending time with both their work and their children.

    In my nearly 20 years of design experience, I’ve pondered a few times how it can be that law firms pull in more money than ad agencies when our billable rates and schedules are roughly the same. Now I know. Lawyers lie. The best producer will only be doing 60%-75% of their time billable. A junior designer working their bum off will top out at 50% and a partner physically cannot dedicate more than 20%-25% of a week to billable time. Client shmoozing must be done. New hires must be mentored. The body must be fed. The difference between avertising and law is that advertising is an honest profession.

  12. gman says:

    Move closer to work and daycare? 2.5 hrs commuting?..AND a lazy husband!

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