Ask AAL No. 4 — Work/Life Balance Edition
Posted on November 28th, 2012
I am currently 26 weeks pregnant and am taking the Florida Bar Feb 26 and 27, at which time I will 39 weeks preg. I am very determined to take on the exam so long baby stays in. Any recommendations for studying while pregnant? Also, I am so scared to go back out in the market once I get back to work in June (hopefully as an attorney and not as a paralegal). Any recommendations to make myself more marketable as a new attorney? Thanks!!
When I took the bar, there was a woman about that far along taking the exam, too. This was before I was pregnant, and I thought at the time, that is one heck of a chance. Then, not too long afterward, I was pregnant and after an uneventful few months, things went south fast and I was induced at 35 weeks. If I’d been in your shoes, I’d have been taking the bar with a four-week-old.
I know this isn’t the question you asked, exactly, but my advice to you would be to plan for that sort of scenario, just in case. (If, in fact, you decide to take the bar then, instead of waiting until July if that happens.) Be done with studying early. Make sure you can do MBE questions in your sleep. If you plan on breast feeding, have a pump so that you can stock up as much milk as you can. Have someone around with the baby so you can breastfeed during your breaks. I think the key to successful parenting AND lawyering is covering all of your bases and having a plan, even if you never need to use it.
Other than really encouraging you to study hard now, rather than leave anything for later, I’d say rest a lot. It’s good for you and the baby and that’s when your brain puts information into long-term storage. Some people talk about baby brain, and complain about forgetfulness. That’s partially true, but I also did some of my best work when I was pregnant.
As to marketability? It’s tough. Depending on where you are, the market is bad or worse. You probably already know that the chances of a big firm job are not good, no matter who you are or what your reproductive status is (because yes, we know they’re not supposed to, but employers discriminate). Be creative. Be prepared to hang out a shingle. It gives you a lot of flexibility as a new mom. If you build a decent book of business, you will have something firms want if you decide you want to move to a firm.
I know there are readers of the blog who probably have direct experience with what you’re facing, and I’m hoping they’ll speak up in the comments.
I’ve enjoyed your blog for a while now and finally thought I’d delurk.
1)I’d love to know more about your hats. What style(s) are they? Where do you get them? How many do you have?
2)Do you have any advice for moms who are (as is my case), considering cutting back from FT employment?
Thank you for delurking! I am going to steal your first question and do an entire post about my hats. I’m kind of embarrassed that I never thought of it before. I’m a little scared to count them, because I didn’t think I had a lot of shoes until, after my husband started calling me Imelda, I counted…and it was more than 50 pairs. OK….really? It was more than 70 pairs. This was before we downsized, but I still have a lot of shoes. What can I say? I buy nice shoes that last, and my feet didn’t grow that much when I was pregnant. But I’ve only downsized hats once, and I only gave away four. So I fear that.
As for your second question:
The biggest, most important thing: if you’re not good at setting boundaries, this is the time to start. Working PT can be awfully close to working FT without the uptick in pay if you don’t know how to say “no.”
I struggled with identity. I went from FT to PT to SAHM and all of a sudden I wasn’t sure what I was, because was I still a lawyer? I had always hated when women identify themselves as so-and-so’s mom, because really? Your identity depends on something you pushed out of your vagina? (Don’t get me wrong; I love my kid. She’s fun. But she’s her own person and I’m more than just her mother.)
Not knowing how old your kids are, you may need other strategies than mine. To keep my sanity, I had to get out of the house every day. We went/and still go to museums and the zoo and such a lot. Unless I was sick, every day I dressed up and put on makeup (which is to say, dressed up for this city, which is notoriously casual; I wear a lot of Eileen Fisher). I had to talk to grown-ups during the day, even if that meant I bugged M at work or, occasionally, talked the ear off some poor boutique shopgirl.
I think you’ll be happy you made the switch, though. In my case, I kicked myself for not having done it earlier.