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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Lawyer Dads: There Or Square?

Originally uploaded by marcokalmann

My colleague Vivia Chen at The American Lawyer wrote this month that more male lawyers are taking paid paternity leave when their kids are born. Undeniably good news.

But what happens when their 2 or 4 or 6 weeks of leave is up? As they put it at building a better legal profession,

many attorneys, particularly but not only female attorneys, internalize the billable hour standards of the workplace, sometimes letting it become the standard by which they live their personal lives. but lawyers that view children's birthday parties, a social dinner, and other personal events as 'costing' them two or three hours away from work risk alienation and isolation from friends, family, and the community. the constant pressure to think, "i could be billing" is deeply troubling to lawyers seeking a fulfilling personal life.

Is the legal work place really changing, or are law firms putting a high-profile band-aid on a chain saw wound? Why are lifestyle issues inevitably "women's issues?" Do men care about work life balance? Are they achieving it? Is the paternity leave stigma really gone? What about men availing themselves of part-time schedules for family reasons? What is the long-term career impact of such a choice?

I'm working on a column along these lines and would appreciate hearing any thoughts you may have, in the comments or by email. Further discussion spaces in Facebook.

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