YLS Plans for the Year
By Kimberly Griffith, Cosgrave Vergeer Kester and YLS President.
This is the first year in MBA history that the YLS President will be a mother of three, and only the second time that a YLS President will have given birth during her service year (current MBA Vice-President, Michelle Druce, was the first). On the eve of my maternity leave, 8.5 months pregnant, it's hard not to reflect on how pregnancy and motherhood have impacted my professional life. Men are fortunate not to face the challenge of looking and acting professional when your feet are swollen, the baby is playing soccer with your insides, you can't catch your breath and you haven't had a proper night's rest in months. And I frankly envy the majority of fathers I know who, when they leave work, don't go by the grocery store on the way to pick up the kids from childcare, then go home and prepare dinner, bathe and put the kids to bed, wash dishes and fold laundry - all before having a moment to themselves. But the fact remains that even though I chose the life I'm living - a life that it is very different from the daily reality of most of the people I work with (who are men) - it leads me to sometimes feel overworked and misunderstood, and to wonder how this sort of uniquely female experience contributes to the disproportionate drop-out rate of women in the law.
For many years now, more than 45 percent of law school graduates and law firm associates have been female. And yet, according to the ABA, fewer than 31 percent of the lawyers in this country are female, only about 20 percent of law firm partners are women and female judges account for roughly 25 percent of the bench. Locally, females represent an even smaller percentage of the attorney population, with female MBA members outnumbered two to one by males.
The YLS Futures Committee has been working for the last two years to inspire a dialogue about how to create work-life balance and increase career satisfaction among other "next generation" issues. This year my goal is to identify and implement projects and initiatives aimed at supporting our female membership, specifically, as well as working fathers of young children. One small project already underway is the planning of two networking events at family-friendly locations (many bar events are held at drinking establishments) with a kid-friendly activity, so more parents can take advantage of these opportunities to commiserate and collaborate with lawyers in other firms and organizations. If successful, we may expand this service to include free childcare at other networking and continuing education events.