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For insight on navigating the complexities of motherhood as a lawyer, check out our Q&A below with Miriam Airington-Fisher.
What led you to start your own law firm and coaching service for other lawyers?
A: In 2016, my daughter was born and I went through a divorce. I struggled to balance my work as a lawyer with my new role as a mom – particularly as a single mom. I loved being a lawyer, but it was impossible to maintain the traditional work schedule of an associate attorney. I decided to start my practice – I didn’t know exactly how I would make it work, but I knew I needed to take control if I would ever figure it all out. Over the next several years, I learned everything I could about growing and scaling a law firm. Along the way, I always made sure that I could accommodate my kid’s needs.
By growing a team, delegating responsibilities, and using technology, I built a business that I could run side by side with my family responsibilities.
I wrote my book, Mom’s A Lawyer: How to Start a Firm and Take Control of Your Life, and created the companion digital course, as the guide I wish I had when I started as a new law firm owner and mother. I was overwhelmed by the number of women attorneys who wanted to build family-friendly practices, and I launched my consulting and coaching firm to further support other law moms.
Why do you reject both the workaholic lawyer and martyr mom archetypes?
A: Both of these archetypes are harmful and outdated. There are so many modern developments in the legal profession that make it possible to provide excellent services and excel financially without working yourself to death.
Technology, automated systems, team-based organization, and flat fees mean we can be profitable without working 60-hour work weeks. As moms, we can take care of our health and happiness, achieve our ambitions, and still be incredible mothers. Family should be a source of love and joy – we don’t need to lose ourselves just to take care of the people we love.
How would you make the legal profession more accessible to working moms?
A: We need to normalize the needs of working parents. As the number of working moms has increased, we’ve been tasked with balancing out these two sides – work and home.
As a profession, we need to recognize that having families and personal responsibilities is a reality, not a weakness. We need to embrace change in culture and professional norms. As employers, we should be looking for ways to support employees. At my firm, every employee starts with five weeks PTO and full benefits. We offer flexible options to accommodate things like snow days and when a team member needs to stay home with a sick kid.
We contribute to society in both our work and in raising families. PTO, parental leave, and flexibility around child care should be the norm.
About the Author:
Miriam Airington-Fisher, an award-winning, criminal defense & Immigration attorney, entrepreneur, author, and advocate. Her book, “Mom’s A Lawyer: How to Start a Firm and Take Control of Your Life,” empowers lawyer moms to create profitable, family-friendly, and accessible law firms. Miriam’s thought leadership challenges workaholic culture, emphasizes work-life balance, and promotes sustainable work cultures.