How to get a family-friendly position at a large firm

In the years that I have been engaged in legal recruiting, I have worked with several really top-notch female candidates that wanted to return to an exciting practice within a large firm after having a baby, but did NOT want the hours associated with a full-time partnership track position. I relate to these women who “want it all,” for I myself want a rigorous and stimulating job, but also want to spend quality time with my child. It is a delicate balancing act.

For all of the media attention that the firms try to gain for proclaiming their family-friendly atmospheres, they rarely advertise part-time or reduced billable hour positions. These positions are usually found through back door methods (for example, a friend at a firm) and my experiences in placing these women have only confirmed my suspicions that female-friendly (i.e., family-friendly) large law firms are difficult to come by.

I have, in fact, placed and gotten offers for women with reduced work schedules. But the interview process is tricky. In order to successfully negotiate, these women had to interview as if they wanted a full-time position, then sit back and wait for an offer. Then once the offer was in hand, they negotiated their hours. Simply put, they had to make the firms believe they were indispensable before they showed all their cards.

Hillary Mantis at vault.com has some interesting thoughts on family-friendly options. I am also curious to hear from women who have successfully found family-friendly attorney positions after having a baby. Feel free to add your comments.

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