Working against the discrimination
January 17, 2019 3:36 pm Published by

Working against the discrimination

An often-suggested way of dealing with the challenge of working in a law firm and maintaining a relationship is that one person pursues a career at a law firm, while the other person works only part-time or takes care of the children. Very often the reality is that if one person out of a couple chooses the option of working part-time or staying at home, it is usually the woman. And exactly this convention is not acceptable and has to be rethought.

Sacrifices have to be made

We have this couple, which on the one hand has aspirations to become successful at the professional level they choose, but on the other hand wants to start a family and spend significant time with their children, and with each other. The best achievable compromise is that one of them works only part-time. Most-likely the person, who is willing to make this sacrifice is the woman. It surely doesn’t help that many law firms have the policy of not allowing paternity leave. As many law firms fail to enable a career for both, it is clear that the number of women in law firms is low and still falling.

Fewer and fewer women

Keeping in mind that working part time and becoming a partner doesn’t add up, the organizational form of partnership is actually a form of gender discrimination.  It is well known that the seven to eight-year system of becoming a partner, which is used in many law firms, has a negative effect on the number of women in the firm.

 A lot of stress

Furthermore, that results in incredibly stressed out men, suffering from the tremendous psychological weight of succeeding and earning enough to provide for an entire family. Allowing oneself mistakes or simply just taking time off is not an option. Such a stressful life is almost a guarantee for burnout and other health issues.

Not a marathon, but a sprint

As a result, law practice becomes more of a sprint than a marathon. Instead of developing skills with time and getting experience while working in a law firm, it is more or less requested to speed up the pace and working over-hours at exactly the time when the need to pay attention to the family is bigger than ever.

It would be possible

In theory, it would be possible for large law firms to allow their employees to have both, a successful work-life and time to spend with their family. The luxury of financial possibilities to afford the redundancy and the overlap that comes with job-sharing is a given. It is much more sustainable, however, for a firm to relieve its staff in order to make them stay longer.

More attractive and fair

In conclusion, there are a couple of ways to facilitate work-life balance, and therefore to increase the number of women in law firms, but in order to make that possible the way of organizing a law firm and the career steps that come along have to be rethought and have to be made more attractive and fair.