I recently bought a really boring dress: plain, black, falls below the knee. Since I no longer work as a lawyer, it’s the most conservative thing in my wardrobe. I rarely have an occasion to wear it, but I had to buy it. Sure, it’s affordable, comfortable, flattering and machine-washable. But that’s not why I bought it. I bought that dress because I belong to a secret society.
There are more than 9,000 members in a Facebook group called “Law Mamas,” a forum for lawyer-moms to share experiences, ask for advice and support one another. It was here that women started posting about a magical dress from Land’s End that came in every colour and every size and, on top of that, was the perfect uniform for busy lawyers. Not only did women start buying the dress, but they posted pictures of themselves wearing it en route to courtrooms and boardrooms, recitals and PTA meetings (a lot of pictures are bathroom selfies). At last count, the women in the group had collectively purchased more than 1,000 of these dresses. By the time I jumped on the bandwagon, the size and colour selection was limited.
Of course, #thedress is just one of thousands of topics covered in the group. Law Mamas weigh in on everything from politics to play dates. (One mother asked the group, which is largely American, what to do if her child is invited to a play date and she doesn’t know the parents: should she ask if there are guns in the house? To which another wise mother replied, “Always ask about three things: guns, pets and pools.”) But the overarching theme is how hard it is to cut it as both a mom and a lawyer.
It is here, in this private Facebook group, that women share freely. They disclose heartbreaking stories of infertility; hold-back-tears moments of overt sexism from colleagues, clients and judges; and the guilt they feel for having missed a school concert.
These conversations rarely happen out loud. When women in law decide to have kids, it’s a serious struggle to find a balance between parenting and practising. In truth, that’s probably never going to change. But what can change is our profession’s ability to acknowledge and address such difficulties. This issue’s cover story gets that conversation started.
And this conversation isn’t just for moms. It’s for anyone who wants to retain top talent at their legal departments, even once children come into the picture. Bring on the baby talk.
Publisher & Editor
The Hunt Is On
We are now accepting nominations for our annual Precedent Setter Awards. We’re on the lookout for Toronto lawyers who are passionate about their work, dedicated to the community and in their first 10 years of practice. We need you to put forward lawyers who fit that description and deserve a moment in the spotlight.
Visit precedentmagazine.com/awards for more information. Nominations close January 26, 2018. We’ll feature all of the winners in our summer issue.
More from the Winter issue:
This story is from our Winter 2017 Issue.