Eighty-hour work weeks, plus the added demands of marriage, children, and even volunteerism. Is it possible to keep up a schedule like that? Should one even try?
The Women’s Law Caucus at the Columbus School of Law sponsored a discussion about the eternal struggle to achieve a satisfactory work-life balance on Oct. 16.
The program, titled “Can Lawyers Have it All?” assembled a panel of alumni and two faculty members to explore the challenges inherent in aiming for personal and professional success.
The topic was prompted in part by a controversial article that appeared in The Atlantic magazine last July, an essay that sent a nationwide buzz through white-collar America.
“Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” by Anne-Marie Slaughter, who resigned eighteen months into her job as the first woman director of policy planning at the State Department to spend more time with her children, took a pessimistic view of a professional woman’s chances of reaching the top of her chosen field without paying some personal price. Slaughter argued that work policies that lack flexibility are responsible in part.
Panelist Amanda Abshire, a CUA Law alumna from the Class of 2008 and a current practitioner within the business and securities litigation department at McGuire Woods, said “The article is really negative. But you can take positive suggestions from it, such as the need for increased opportunity to telecommute.”
Columbus School of Law Professor Cara Drinan moderated the discussion and shared her own stories of the challenges of teaching, researching, and raising young children, as did her colleague Lisa Martin, a professor within Columbus Community Legal Services.
Martin has two children under the age of three, and a spouse whose job takes him on the road frequently. “The thing that spoke to me most in the article was the need for employer flexibility,” she said.
The two other panelists contributing to the discussion were law school alumna Abigail Hurson, Class of 2004, disability services officer for Johns Hopkins University, and her husband Brendan Hurson, an assistant federal public defender with the District of Maryland.