Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Pursuit of Balance . . .

I love conferences. The buzz of activity, lots of people, lots of information, lots of learning, lots of opportunities! This week the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Mid-Year Meeting is in Atlanta, and there is NO COST for the meeting, except for a few choice continuing legal education (CLE) credits.  A major association conference, free CLE’s with no hotel bill, right at my back door, and no work schedule to juggle!  But, alas, this week is also the week my two youngest must have the last hard-copy portfolios of the year completed and mailed to their virtual school teachers. (Really, BIG sigh.)

Why not let Dad do it? Tried that! Barely made it. Not doing that again. Missing a portfolio deadline is akin to moving your clip from green to yellow, for the parents! These decisions are what makes me want to chuck it all, and be mom only again. I loved it. Life was much simpler then, but that was then.  Circumstances won’t allow a return to the simpler life. But, all is not lost.

Believe it or not, there are those of us who have never aspired to Big Law, or law firm life. If I had done it sooner . . . if I didn’t have children . . .if . . .if  . . .if, then maybe I would have chosen Big Law, but I didn’t, and here I am with a law degree, a bar license and four children, and I have to deal with it.  And deal with it I will, because this is the best time to be in this predicament. At this moment, there’s a movement afoot. Mom lawyers who want it all, the career AND the kids, are pioneering a practice model called the “virtual law office,” or VLO. (other lawyers are there too, but a mom is leading the way.) Lawyers with VLO’s can provide service anywhere they have a secure internet connection. I follow Stephanie Kimbro, Richard Granat and Rachel Rodgers closely.  Their offices are online. Completely online. And the technology is available through a platform provided by DirectLaw so I don't have to be a techie to do this! Hallelujah! This practice model works best for areas of law that are transactional and paper-driven, like business law, wills and estate planning, pro se actions (DIY), but that is where I want to be anyway. My practice will cover all areas of family law, wills and estate planning, adoptions; the family building areas of law as well as the areas that assist the unfortunate disintegration of the family.

Perfect.  Home office, reasonable hours, flexibility to be teacher’s helper, or attend field trips without office drama. Some lawyer moms have solely VLO’s, and make no court appearances nor see clients in person. However, my practice is already starting out traditionally with face to face client contact, and that’s okay. It will keep things interesting. I tend to get bored easily. By this time next year my VLO will be fully functioning, and although I still may not be able to attend a legal conference of my choice, I can write a will after the portfolios are in the mail, and the kids are in the bed.   Balance.

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