Early six years ago, and not long after Carolyn launched this blog, I sat before a clunky desktop computer with a newborn baby nestled on my lap in an isolated New England town, wondering how I could possibly leave my baby and return to full-time practice. I spent hours, days on end, surfing the web over an incredibly slow dial-up connection, hoping to find a resource or online discussion that could reassure me that alternatives to the full-time legal track existed–options that would offer me the flexibility I sought to be a successful lawyer and an available mother, as I defined those terms for myself. I wanted to know that I wasn’t alone in wanting more from the law and life.
Law school had set the stage for full-time practice, and until I became a mother I hadn’t thought about what that schedule really meant, for the long term. As my baby grew, I discovered that I needed (and wanted) a flexible schedule, and achieving one required finding creative ways to make the law and life work for me. Along the way as I explored different paths, I discovered that part-time practice was one way I could make the law and life mesh. But I quickly learned that I was one of the lucky ones in the law–that part-time doesn’t always mean part-time, and that such opportunities aren’t always easy to find, though they do exist.
Later, when another child came into my life, I realized the resources and support I sought for flexible lawyering remained limited–at least I couldn’t seem to find them. Even as “blawgs” began to explode, career “opt-out” conversations gathered media attention, and colleagues began having babies and vocalizing their wishes for greater flexibility in the profession and more support for work/life choices, I could see that the profession needed a work/life nudge.
Then something happened. Instead of sitting behind my computer looking for resources, I started writing and blogging about flexible lawyering (link to www.darlinghill.com). With a third child on the way, I began writing Staying at Home, Staying in the Law: A Guide to Remaining Active in the Legal Profession While Pursuing Your Dreams (link to stayinginthelaw.com). Today, I’m driven to help lawyers find flexibility in the law–to help them chart their own courses and find greater happiness in law and life (link to Darling Hill’s flexible lawyer jobs). I’m inspired by the possible trickle down effect that helping even one lawyer find greater work/life satisfaction could bring (e.g., happy mom = happy kids / happy clients). I’m inspired by the chance that I can help one new lawyer mom feel less alone.
Without even aiming for a specific result, I’ve realized that by simply facilitating discussion about flexible lawyering, parenthood, and work/life balance, it’s possible to touch the lives of other lawyers–and become that much needed support in the profession.
When I went to law school, like so many other lawyers, I wanted to make a difference. I just had no idea that my path was headed toward helping other lawyers–or that it would take motherhood to lead me to that path.