It seems partners are much more flexible with associates who have kids than with those who don’t. If it’s okay for my colleague with a kid to leave at 5 pm and log on later, why isn’t that the same for me (no kids)? My obligations might be different, but I still have a life and want to be able to do certain things, like catch that evening workout class or cook dinner for my partner. As you can probably tell, my firm is operating 100% in person. There is no point here — I’m just whining.

likehelpfulsmart
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Small-firm practitioner here (30s, M, biglaw refugee, no kids, not married), so my perspective may be inapplicable to many of you. In our firm, compensation is mostly based on revenue— and the partners don’t really care to keep track of when we come and go. The philosophy is basically: “You’re an adult and this is your practice. As long as your work gets done, we don’t care when you do it.”

For associates with kids, it’s great because they have flexibility. It’s also great for me. I end up billing more (and therefore making more) than some of the more senior associates who have kids. At the same time, if I need or want a Friday off I can take it without having to justify where I’m going or why I’m out.

The issue I see here is that firms often treat associates like children who need to be supervised at all times. It has less to do with parents getting preferential treatment than it does with firms infantilizing associates (or worse, treating them like indentured servants) and expecting them to justify every minute that they’re not actively sitting at their desk.

likesmart

You hit the nail on the head, especially with that 3rd paragraph.

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I’m glad to see there is a silent majority. I feel like I’ve always had to bite my tongue and act okay with parents (not all, there are some that are respectful to others who choose a different lifestyle, but many) who think just because they have kids their lives (and time) are more important than others. God forbid you insinuate that you don’t care about someone else’s kids as much as they might.

I’m also happy to see that other people are choosing not to have children. Most people still can’t comprehend why that would be my choice and, if I had a dollar for everyone I heard “but you’ll change your mind,” I would have a couple hundred dollars at least.

Also for those who don’t know, there is a “childfree” (might be childless, I’ll have to check) bowl on FB and honestly I’ve never met a group of people I connected with more.

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There is also no silent majority. In my experience, it is just a couple of miserable junior associates that feel this way.

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Because the kid is an affirmative obligation of the associate, whereas your flexibility is a convenience. As an attorney parent, I would much prefer to work straight through until 6:30-7 and then have my evening to myself, rather than leave at 5:15, get the kid settled by 6:30 and then work through dinner in order to log the same hours as my childless colleagues. Leaving to pick up the kid is a minimal accommodation; we have the same hours and fee realization requirements as you do.

likesmartfunnyhelpful

Ok people, think hard: a child is a dependent. They depend on the parents. That’s why parents get the amazing privilege to run at 5pm to pick them up then feed them then burn the midnight oil. Childless people, don’t be thick. It’s a human person we’re talking about here. Taking care of their basic needs is not selfish, it’s basic human decency. It doesn’t take away anything from you, it’s not like the parents leave earlier to party! They do double day: care of the child and work. So be at ease, they’re actually busting their butts more than you.
Someone talked about their choice of having a child. Such a bitter comment! Yes, some people want children and you won’t be able to prevent them and there are lots of them. So let them leave earlier and log on later, as I pointed out it doesn’t take anything away from you. As someone else said, you too can say you need to leave early. Not everyone can afford a nanny btw, that’s why they go themselves. Childless people, if a law firm provides this basic “flexibility” to parents, think hard: that must really be because it’s something that can’t be denied, otherwise they’d deny it. People work hard, but they still can have a bit of a life like a baby. And it’s temporary: a few years then the children won’t need to be picked up.

You can do those things? In my experience parents get the time because they ask for it and treat it as non-negotiable (because it isn't). If you want to go do something you need to treat it as non-negotiable. If you are worried about the impact on your career and choose not to put your foot down, then it's negotiable. Only you will set your boundaries. But parents keep their boundaries because their children literally need them. I don't literally need to grab drinks with a friend on a Tuesday so usually I don't set a hard boundary. Just depends on your priorities really

likesmart

If management does not view it non-negotiable and you don’t dare to leave the door, then it is negotiable. You think when I stuck my neck out and asked to leave early, I did not think about leaving the job?! Funny.

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Put a framed stock photo of a child on your desk and act as if you have kids. Start leaving the office at 5 pm and watch no one question it.

likefunnysmart

Came here literally to give the same advice. Just remember to update the photo as your kid ages 😂

Also, I do the same with my horse. 🦄

likefunny

People‘s reproductive choices should have no bearing on flexibility at work. And childless people may have a myriad of affirmative obligations that are not child-related. Doesn’t make them any less valid.

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Exactly!!!

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I’ve experienced this as well, and I 100% relate to your feelings. I don’t have kids, but I do have a dog (and a partner, and hobbies, and friends/family, etc.). I don’t ask to leave at a certain time, and I don’t tell my partners I’m leaving. I just go when I need to. I check my emails after I get home and respond appropriately. Maybe I just got lucky and have partners who “get it,” but I feel like everyone knows I’m available as needed even when I’m not physically in the office.

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That sucks you guys had to go through this. Thank you for explaining / providing more details. But honestly what are these firms? name and shame them !

Just go do whatever you want to do. The other associate chose to have a parasite. Or you can out-bill and outperform them and they won’t make partner.

likefunny

A11: Exactly. In my experience, the 20- and 30- somethings without children who are complaining about working parents will always find something to complain about because they are always worried about what the other gal/guy is getting that they are not, as opposed to worrying about their own work ethic. They are more selfish. Less flexible, lying about where they are and whether they can help out in a pinch, and generally less of a team player with their colleagues. I will take a working parent any day as they are generally more skilled at keeping mire balls in the air and straightforward about what they need to make a plan work.

likefunnysmart

“Who hurt you” 😂😂😂

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Just do whatever you want to do. We are all adults. I am NEVER in the office past 5 unless I’m mid fire drill and cannot spend the 15 minutes it takes to commute. I do not ask permission. I just leave.

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The people on this thread who fail to recognise that having kids is a choice are killing me. You wanna have kids? Great! But don’t then come back and think it’s some amazingly virtuous thing that I should bend over backwards to accommodate if you have no interest in ensuring I also have a life. The world doesn’t need more kids, so this is a choice that you’ve made, for you. You wanted a baby, you made a baby - so own it and stop thinking your choice is more important than others who may not have or want kids.

likesmart

A6 yes parties without self-absorbed lawyers are things - you just need to branch out a little, try something different. Also - complaining is fun! Just need to back it up with reasonable justification. As you’ll see from my comment - I am happy to play ball with parents who respect my time as much as I’m told to respect theirs. That’s a good working relationship, and I’ve had that over the years with many young parents. Just don’t think you’re above it all because you decided to prioritise one path over another. Respect my life and time and I’ll respect yours.

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I’m a mom and have left when I needed to leave even before having kids. It doesn’t have to be a kid thing. It’s an I’m an adult and have a life outside of work thing. Even now having kids, I don’t say, “I have to do x for my kids.” I say, “I’m not available at that time, but I can do it this other time,” just as I did before I had kids, whether I was unavailable because of a client meeting or dinner with my husband. As long as you get the work done, why should any of this matter?

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A22 - agreed that there shouldn’t be blanket blame and that the non parent associates moving to a different time zone and working that time zone hours during a pandemic would impose the same problems during the “normal” work hours. Ie- if you’e in CA time, you shouldn’t be moving to Europe to work Europe hours (basically being asleep when the rest of the office is awake, etc).

On the other hand, I actually am pleasantly surprised (as well as traumatized by others) by how many parent associates have agreed that non parents should just put up boundaries (regardless of what the commitment is) and that they wouldn’t judge said non parents for them. I agree with this POV.

(As for instant responses, I know of several v10s which I won’t shame that told associates their responses need to be within 1 hour max of receipt of an email esp if it’s a client. 🙄 yeah, as you can guess 80% of the associates I know who started at these firms are no longer there.)

Those defending discriminatory actions against childless colleagues need to take a hard look at their heteronormativity.

likefunny

This is the most intense thread I’ve been a part of. I think we can all agree that this profession is trash for WLB and that nobody should use their personal circumstances to get out of work at the expense of peers.

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I don’t think unmasking is helpful or worth the stifling of debate it creates. I also genuinely trust myself enough to bet firms if I am considering joining without naming ppl on this app. Regardless of how unhelpful and seemingly self-absorbed some of the comments made here have been.

I've stopped responding to emails from parents at 9pm. By then I've already billed 12 hours. They can wait until I start at 8am the next day.

likefunny

This. +++++

Married with two kids. Expected to bill the same and do bill more than most of my peers. I work from 7:30 - 12 almost daily and then two hours between 5:30-7:30 when the kids wake up. The grind is real. You have no idea what your colleagues with young kids are experiencing.

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Then be an adult and ask to leave when you have to? Put up your own boundaries.

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I feel this. I’m gay and although I know some gay couples have children, it’s not nearly as common and not something my partner and I are contemplating anytime soon.

I honestly feel shortchanged when parents get special perks like more flexible schedules, parental leave, and childcare benefits. I’d prefer that everyone get the same time off and benefits (or cash equivalent) and they can choose what to use on: raising kids, Traveling , learning a new language, visiting parents, volunteering , etc.

It’s as if the business community has made a value judgment that having kids is a more worthy endeavor than any of those other valid choices.

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Yeah, it’s only like a week or two, but better than 0

I just want to say that I have no hard feelings toward my colleagues with kids and understand the need for accommodation. Maybe this comes down to my firm’s culture because I don’t feel I can advocate for myself (i.e. set boundaries) in the same way they can. Ultimately, in my specific situation, at my firm, my work-life balance takes a backseat to that of the associates with kids.

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Same here

I remember having to watch a panel of moms at a conference. All they talked about was how no one gets it, co-workers are so inconsiderate to parents, co-workers need to accommodate parents, BUT it is sexist to ask about their kids. At the end of it, I told them that having a kid is a personal decision outside of work.

likesmart

A12 - since it was unclear to you. I offered to connect via LinkedIn as an accommodation to you. You reveal your identity since you’re posting all this crazy stuff and I reveal mine. I have outed my firm but we are still waiting on you. Just saying your behavior/posts on this thread has been truly worrisome for my colleagues and I to see…including those inhouse and who are parents. We are curious as to what practice group you’re in and which firm it is.

Also - to make it easy for you. I’ll spell it out. The posts and number of likes imply the distribution/underlying view of fishes on this thread since people like posts they agree with. (Like how over 10 ppl liked a post that asked you to stop posting and over 5 liked the one asking for your firm bc you sound toxic to juniors). 😅 Congratulations- I have yet to see a fish annoy so many ppl on a professional bowl before.)

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I sympathize with your plight as I was once a childless adult myself, and often observed the powers that be straining to ensure people with families got to have Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc. off, while childless people were expected to cover for them. However, now that I’m a parent, I understand the needs for flexibility and accommodations. You will eventually have kids and will also appreciate the flexibility and accommodations. If you don’t plan on having kids, consider that your coworkers kids will eventually be paying your social security.

likefunny

Not going to lie, this was also a serious problem.

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