Women gather together to talk about a career and a family

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    By Rebecca Kellogg

    Balancing family with a career in law was the theme of an event Wednesday night sponsored by the Women”s Pre-Law Forum in the Wilkinson Center.

    Mary Hoagland, Assistant Dean and Director of the Career Services Office at the J. Reuban Clark Law School, and Kathleen S. Bahr, a professor in MFHD, spoke at the event and then each allowed a brief question-and-answer session.

    The speakers” message was simple: a woman can successfully balance a career in law and a family, but it requires some sacrifices.

    Hoagland said it is important when one parent or the other takes extended time off work for family responsibilities to stay in touch with the profession, either by working part-time or doing other things to stay updated.

    “People make different choices about what to do,” she said. “Some people take a hiatus. One woman”s jump back in to the court system was a judicial clerkship.”

    Hoagland said that the workload depends on where you choose to go.

    “Some people [firms] are very family friendly or lifestyle friendly,” she said. “You have to do your research and find out who makes you work 18 gazillion hours a year and who caps it at 1850.”

    She also said that people who have their own firms can make good money, but can work some of the longest hours if they don”t set limits.

    Bahr encouraged students who are considering going into law to ask themselves the question “Why?” It is important to have a clear idea of why you want to do this.

    Bahr told those in attendance that during the time her two brothers were in law school, both of them were married. They both made a commitment that from 5:00 p.m. on Friday to 8:00 a.m. on Monday would be family time.

    She told about the path she took to get to where she is today and said “Everything isn”t a clear-cut path where you”re going.”

    “I was kind of expecting Prince Charming to show up and relieve me of this burden of having a career, but he was very slow in coming,” Bahr said. “He didn”t show up until I was 43.” By that time, she had a doctorate and was working as a professor in MFHD at BYU.

    She and her husband had a son, later adopted another son, and recently adopted two boys from Russia. Because Bahr and her husband are both professors, they were able to stagger schedules to cover childcare. With both of the first two boys she took a year off work to be with them when they were about 3. She took a year off last year to spend time with her newly adopted Russian boys.

    She said balancing her career with her family was easier because by the time her husband showed up she already had all her career preparation behind her.

    Bahr spoke then of married couples and law school. She said that in her study of work and labor issues she has found that doing work together as a family is vital.

    “You really have to make some tough decisions if you”re young and going to law school,” she said. “The tendency today when you”re a dual career couple is to hire someone to do the housework. I would like to suggest the most important thing you can do with your family is work in the house.”

    This is more important that going boating, Bahr said, though it is also crucial to spend time away, just playing.

    “My research indicates that doing things together is the best way to build a family,” she said.

    Bahr said it is also critical for spouses to read relevant literature and discuss it with each other. Families have to serve each other, and both spouses have to be willing to sacrifice a little.

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