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Lawyer Children Should Be Unseen and Unheard

As much as we drift toward balance between work and family, the truth of the matter is what this article title reflects -- Got Kids?  These Clients Don't Care.  According to the article:

"Last week, a panel of in-house counsel at a National Association of Women Lawyers event in Los Angeles told the crowd to keep their personal lives out of the equation: Clients should come first.  'If there's a family crisis or something with the kids or other clients, we don't care about it -- get the job done,' Linda Louie, general counsel for the National Hot Rod Association, told an audience of about 100 women Wednesday. 'You are a commodity to us -- show me how you can solve a problem.' Panelist Elizabeth Atlee, a senior counsel for BP American Inc., doesn't have a problem with lawyers leading balanced lives -- so long as that's not an excuse to blow off client demands.  Don't answer the phone if you're putting kids to bed, Atlee told the audience, but call back with your full attention as soon as you've done so -- and skip the blow-by-blow: "I don't want to hear about your kids," she said. "I'll tell you if I do -- don't tell me."

Actually, for all that I've written about the importance of balancing work and family, I agree with these sentiments.  Back in my younger, childless days when I worked for the government, one of my supervisors with children worked part time at the office with a day a week of work from home.   Unfortunately, she was never available on that day out of the office because of her parenting obligations, which annoyed me when I needed her approval to get a document out.  Working for myself, I don't have to worry that my children will interfere with my work responsibilities and I can set my schedule in such a way that my clients don't know that I have kids.  Still, the condescending attitudes expressed in the article -- i.e., that women don't realize that they need to draw a line between work and family -- are troubling and unfortunately, may prevent more women from achieving the work-family balance that they deserve.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on April 26, 2006 at 01:18 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

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