Break Free From These Stifling Narratives
A few weeks back, I sat down with the amazingly gifted lawyer-turned-author Amy Impellizzeri, and we talked all things family and the law.
Amy is a reformed corporate litigator, former startup executive, and award-winning author of fiction and nonfiction. She’s written and co-written several books including How to Leave the Law and Lawyer Interrupted.
Amy’s story caught my attention right away:
While she was practicing big law, she became a mom for the first time.
This was the early 2000s, not the 1950s mind you…
But she found herself in a law firm with no formal maternity leave policy and no option for coming back part time.
So she approached the partner she worked for, and they worked out a secret deal so she could take maternity leave between her accrued and unpaid time off.
When she came back to work, she took a pay cut, started working 3-4 days a week in the office and a few hours outside. She was no longer on the partner track and no longer put on the best cases, but she felt grateful to have a job.
She never put pictures of her kids up.
She didn’t leave for soccer games.
She never even talked about them.
Every year, when she went in for her review, the partner used to say to her, “You’re doing a great job. No one would ever know you have kids.”
When Amy finally left the law, her kids were 2, 4, and 6 years old, and she wasn’t 100% sure people even knew she had them.
Amy’s story of not having any support from her company (or even acknowledgement) as a working mom is not unique. Unfortunately, many women in the legal field face this reality.
On my latest podcast, we talked through 2 common lies that keep women silent on this issue:
You’re Easily Replaceable
For many people in the law, the idea’s been drilled into us that we’re easily replaceable. We’ve heard there’s always another one waiting in the wing, so we stay silent.
But it’s not true.
Earlier in her career, Amy left her job at one law firm for a better opportunity at another. As she was getting ready to leave, a male mentor told her:
“You’re indispensable here, and you’ll make yourself indispensable there.”
Later, when she was pregnant with her first baby, she remembered what he said. This is what inspired her to advocate for part-time and a maternity leave policy that didn’t exist.
You’re not easily replaceable. You show up and make yourself indispensable every single day. Remind yourself who you are and what you’re capable of, so you can fight for what’s important to you.
You Have No Other Options
As lawyers, we often tell ourselves, “I can’t leave. Where would I be if I weren’t here?”
But we don’t have to buy into that story anymore.
The truth is, there’s a whole world of amazing people and experiences. If you never step outside the four walls of your law firm, you never find that out for yourself.
You may not need to leave the law entirely. You may just need a change of scenery. Take your adventures on the side and find out.
Join boards, nonprofits, and do volunteer work. Find things that will help you experience life outside the law firm.
To hear the full conversation AND get Amy’s exercise for figuring out exactly what you want your life to look like, listen to the podcast.
You’re not stuck. Law school suits you up to be a complete gamechanger in this life. Don’t box yourself in.
You have endless options, my powerhouse friend.
Until Next Time,