Albeit not yet dramatically visible across all firms, practices, or geographical areas, there’s a strengthening quality-of-life undercurrent in the profession. Men and women alike are increasingly refusing to adhere to the law’s cultural rules. ... They are drawing attention to the ways in which the profession is failing its lawyers. Some are even breaking the rules by refusing to settle for a life marked by professional dissatisfaction, opting instead to chart a new satisfying path in the law or to step away from the profession altogether to attend to what many consider the most important things in life: personal interests such as family and the pursuit of individual dreams.
A new generation of lawyers
Work/life issues aren’t only of concern to lawyers already admitted to the bar. Current law students and lawyers born after 1976 are members of the so-called Generation Y, and they stand together demanding a better quality of life and increased flexible work options. ...
Reacting also to the profession’s grim notoriety for inflexibility, many law students are even coming to view the law school years as the perfect time for starting or growing a family, while their schedules allow considerable flexibility. In fact, so many students share this view about the profession and childrearing that a “parent boom” is reportedly taking place at law schools across the country. According to one media source, the parent-boom phenomenon is no secret to officials at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, where even school officials acknowledge the boom. ... According to that same source, “Careful logic is apparently driving a parent boom among the student ranks. . . . What working attorneys and firm managers are just beginning to understand is that there is a generation entering the profession who don’t plan to pay someone else to watch their children.”
Current law school students aren’t the only ones planning ahead, though. Reports suggest that prospective law students who have their sights set on the JD are hoping that the credential will eventually be the key to meaningful work and will open doors to flexible work possibilities after they have taken time off to raise children. A recent study discovered that as many as 60 percent of Ivy League female graduates hope to stay at home to raise children. Many of the participants reported a desire to obtain a law degree, believing it would afford them the best opportunity for finding meaningful part-time, family-friendly work.