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Moms, Law and Change

They say that necessity is the mother of invention.  But motherhood itself is also the mother of invention – or more accurately, the engine behind creative, entrepreneurial ideas to make motherhood more compatible with legal practice.  This article, The Lawyer Moms, Boston Globe (5/8/05) reports on  on such mom-lawyer-inventor, Patty Campbell Malone, who along with law partner David Lewis, has started a practice that will rely on stay at home mother lawyers as a primary source of labor.  The article doesn’t discuss whether Malone with stick with this model permanently – or whether it’s just a way to keep a hand in the law until her children are older.  But no matter what the future holds, Malone is able to enjoy “face time” with her children now.

The concept of mothers striking out on their own when their profession won’t accomodate their schedule is not unique to the legal profession.  This Business Week article (5/4/05) notes this trend:

Working mothers who can’t get employers to offer flexible working arrangements are striking out on their own. “Women are starting businesses at twice the rate of all businesses,” says Sharon G. Hadary, executive director of the Center for Women’s Business Research, a Washington (D.C.) nonprofit. The center also found that from 1997 to 2004, employment at female-owned companies grew by 24.2%, more than twice the rate of the 11.6% logged by all businesses, and the pace of revenue increase was also higher — 39% vs. 33.5%.

I know many moms who believe that by working grueling schedules at law firms, they set an example for their children, particularly daughters, that women can succeed.  Maybe so.  But the message that I’d rather send I hope is one better: not just that I can succeed in my legal career, but that I can do so on my own timetable and not someone else’s.