Women are leaving the legal profession within the first five years of their careers, experts say. One of the reasons for this mass exodus is that these women choose to pursue motherhood and family instead.
Christine Leatherberry, a Dallas attorney and mother who is doing both, teamed up with the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers in 2016 to create Moms in Law to help fellow North Texas moms in the legal field stay in the legal field.
“The legal field and big firms, in particular, are not traditionally conducive to work-life balance.”
Moms in Law is an organization for women like Leatherberry who “feel like they’re not giving 100 percent to being a lawyer or a mother” or who “see the pictures of moms in yoga pants at the zoo on Facebook on a weekday and second guess themselves,” she said in an email to Dallas Innovates.
These hard-working moms often feel the need to end their careers in order to be successful mothers, said Leatherberry, who has seen this scenario play out firsthand.
But Leatherberry herself is proof that it is possible for women to be successful both as a mom and as a lawyer. In addition to being the Teacher Appreciation Chair and Room Mom at her children’s school, she was also selected as one of the Up-and-Coming 50: Women Texas Rising Stars for the past two consecutive years and was named on the Up-and-Coming 100: 2018 Rising Stars List.
“The legal field and big firms, in particular, are not traditionally conducive to work-life balance,” Leatherberry said. “In my daughter’s small preschool class last year, there were four moms who had gone to law school. I am the only one still practicing law, the other three are now stay-at-home moms.”
Moms in Law meets twice each month for lunch and hosts an annual or biannual continuing legal education conference. But, it’s not all business—Moms in Law also holds fun events like makeup classes and zoo playdates with members and their kids.
“First, it’s a support group, and a networking group secondary,” Leatherberry said. “We bounce ideas off of each other about work-life balance, meal prep, daycare, nannies, appearing in certain courts, maternity leaves, discipline, etc.”
Leatherberry has advice to offer to hard-working moms in any industry—not just law. She emphasizes simplifying life with things like online grocery shopping and outsourcing time-consuming tasks.
“It takes a village. Find a good daycare or nanny,” Leatherberry says. “If you have a spouse or partner, share child-rearing activities, school drop off, daycare pickup, and doctor’s appointments so it’s not all on you.”
Although she’s driven by an inspiration to help others, Leatherberry said she’s also motivated by personal reasons.
“I needed a fun support group, for lack of a better term, to keep me sane, bounce ideas off of, et cetera,” Leatherberry said. “I also didn’t want it to take up any more of my time at nights or weekends when I wanted to spend time with my family.”
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