Thursday, December 2, 2010

On Balance - A MILP Kind of Post

This blog runs in three little circles -- (1) SN mamas who read it because we share some aspects of our journeys as mothers (well and because who doesn't love to read about a magical rockstar?!); (2) people who know us who I've shared the link with to get updates on us and Sammie B; and (3) MILPS. That last one is "Moms in the Legal Profession" -- I'm part of a weekly "round-up" of lawyer-mama blogs. But I realize that the last sort of "sector" of my life gets little airtime here . . . at least lately. Part of that is because writing about work isn't as fun as writing about Sam, but its also (more so) because I come here to write about my struggles and challenges, and well, work hasn't really been much of one lately. My hours have been low low low for three months. After trial in June (three weeks out of state away from my fam; billing hours like a MAD WOMEN), I took nearly a month off, and getting back into the groove has been hard. I've had the luxury in my three years as a lawyer of mostly working on one HUGE case at a time (like 200+++ hours a month for 6+ attorneys huge, or for me, a little less because of my alternative schedule).

After trial though, it seems like every case I get on seems to settle, so then I'm back on the market looking for another case . . . and as a result, I've spent much of the last few months working on three or so smaller cases, which makes managing my work load a newer challenge. Trying to figure out if the cases I have are enough to amount to a full work plate, and upon realizing they are not, trying to find aNOTHER case to add that won't result in a plate that is WAY too full . . . and, it gets tricky saying to a partner, "I can't jump on X case, because . . . " when your hours are low, but at the same time, I can't take on a case that will require tooo much of my time b/c I DO have to remain committed/able to work on the smaller ones I'm already committed to, and I AM a reduced schedule attorney. Navigating all of this is tricky at times (My firm doesn't have work load coordinators; we are our own work load coordinators). But one of my cases IS going to get super busy, and so I don't want to commit myself to things I can't handle. This is a new challenge for me.

The low hours has also allowed me to focus on Sam the last few months --After celebrating her September birthday, I spent well over a month dealing with her annual reviews, etc. with the regional center, preparing for those, advocating (read: fighting like mad) to get her into the center-based program (preschool), getting all of her medical records for our upcoming JH trip (which is next week! As an aside, I'm surprisingly calm about it, though I know the freakout will set in soon), etc. So, it was nice to be able to do what I NEEDED to do anyway . . . sit at my desk and manage my personal life a bit without a million deadlines looming.

But, at some point I KNOW I have to get more hours in, or I will screw myself for the year (our billable year is August - August, so those billing-like-mad-trial-hours counted for last year). I also billed more than my part-time commitment last year . . . and sort of want to see if I'm compensated for that come bonus time. I think that will, rightfully so, help me measure my loyalty to my firm (which I have to say is pretty darn high -- I can't imagine a group being more supportive of my schedule, my Sam-stuff, me traveling when I need to, working from home when I need to, etc).

Although I worry that some partners are looking at my last three months hours and raising eyebrows, I'm confident that the ones that know me aren't. If I hadn't already proven it, my pre-trial and trial work proved that when necessary, I kick my ass into the highest of gears, and work as hard and as much as I need to do good work, even when that means working on my days off, weekends, etc.

I of course deserved some down time post trial (partners TOLD me to take it); but I just worry I've stretched it too long . . . and I think on the flipside, I'm ready to be super busy and challenged again, which I think is just around the corner. My favorite partner (who is also in charge of one of my three cases now) called last week to tell me that three of our team members will be at trial on another case in January, and thus that he'll need me to spend more of my time on the case (yay!) . . . including taking over some of the tasks from the partner that's going to be out. The partner that's WAY senior to me. His tasks -- to me. Yep, a little bit overwhelming, but also a huge vote of confidence from said partners. I'm glad. I think one of my weaknesses is that I work my hardest when I'm under "the case is about to implode" types of deadlines, and other times, when things just sort of-kind of need to get done soonish, I have a VERY hard time motivating myself to do them (and not instead focusing on Sammie B and that sector of my life). . . so I'm excited to know that I'll have depositions, expert reports, etc. on my plate . . . big deal stuff that will require me to focus and work hard and challenge myself.

Anyway, so "work-life balance" hasn't been a big topic on here lately because I haven't really been struggling with balance all that much. But I know litigation is cyclical, and the crazy cycle is about to start, so balancing work and life is going to be a challenge again in the coming months, but I think I'm ready for it. Glad I was able to get Sammie B in her new preschool, on her new schedule, so so grateful that my schedule allowed me to focus on that, and now that we have yet another "new normal," I'm ready to juggle. I think.

No comments: