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Question: Future Lawyer-Mom Seeking Information on Flex Time Programs at Mid to Large Size San Francisco Law Firms

Attorney Career Question: Are there any resources out there that will give reliable (not completely spun by a firm marketing person) information about what it is actually like to work at mid-sized to larger firms in the SF Bay area? I would really like to know what their records are in terms of flexibility and sustainability for working moms. I plan to have children in the not-so-distant future and I want to make an educated choice.

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First, you should know, you are not alone. Many women lawyers share the same dream as you do of combining a satisfying career with a meaningful family life, and many of them are realizing that dream, in part because many large law firms have woken up to the reality that it is not just a matter of being decent and sensitive, but also good business to accommodate the needs of working lawyer moms.

One good place to look for information is The Project for Attorney Retention's Scoop table, which summarizes key features of part-time programs at major firms. In some instances, there are also links to comments from people who work at those firms. I assume some of the firms listed are in San Francisco.

Here is the link:

http://www.pardc.org/TheScoop/

You can also search for comments from insiders at law firms on Vault:

http://www.vault.com/

Finally, browse the JD Bliss blog archives and subscribe to the JD Bliss Blog email newsletter or RSS feed - we have plenty of articles, books and other resources offering solutions and inspiration for working lawyer moms and are always adding new material.

Good luck, and let us know how things work out. We're rooting for your success!

Joshua Fruchter is right. The PAR website (http://www.pardc.org) does have some San Francisco firms on its Scoop table, but we're hoping to take it much further soon. A new PAR project (PAR is part of UC Hastings College of the Law's Center for WorkLife Law, based in San Francisco) called Balanced Lives Information for New Grads will organize Northern California law schools and law students around issues of work/life balance in the legal profession. A major component will be a website like the current PAR site that shows what Northern California law firms are doing to help attorneys balance work and other parts of their lives. The site will include information from recent graduates and others who work at the firms.

Here's another resource: The Bar Association of San Francisco has a Work/Life Balance Task Force that is sponsoring its first-ever Work/Life Balance Conference on Thursday, September 21, 2006 at the Bank of America auditorium. A complete description is available at http://www.sfbar.org/calendar/eventdetail.aspx?id=251. One of the panels is on “Best Practices” and there will be three mid-sized and large firms represented on that panel talking about what they’re doing in terms of flexibility. We also expect people from the audience to add what they see as best practices in their firms and elsewhere.

Linda Marks, Director of Training and Consulting, Center for WorkLife Law

Dear future mom lawyer. If you are a lawyer and a future mother in the SF Bay Area, you should look into joining the yahoo group locoparentis. It is a group of lawyer moms in the Bay Area, several from larger firms and in-house. There are currently some postings up that correspond to your questions about flex time and balance.

Thanks to all for the great resources. I'm especially looking forward to PAR's site with Northern California info. Question for ASH - I wasn't able to find the Yahoo group. Could you possibly provide more information? It sounds like a wonderful resources as well.

In my experience, there's no reference like one from the inside. The best way to learn about a firm is to ask people who work there, preferably many of them if you can to get a balanced perspective. If you use the "Six Degrees of Separation" theory, you can find someone you know who knows someone who works within the firms you're targeting... then ask for their time to learn more from them about the company, its corporate culture and policies related to work-life balance and family friendliness. I do a presentation called "Your Golden Rolodex: How to Network for Results" and the premise is to honor the people you know, seek introductions via those people and never ever make a cold call--and this is the model I'd use for getting "inside intelligence" on a prospective employer as well. If you'd like more information on The Golden Rolodex approach, feel free to contact me at vaustin@choicesworldwide.com. Good luck!

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