Who am I?
Female, 35, married + kids, have a day job
I used to live in Lebanon during the civil war
I made it to law school & graduated! (I was pregnant …)
Prior to to graduating law school, I was forced to evaluate the career options ahead of me. Graduating from a top law school meant there were plenty of options at my finger tips. Top law firms, investment banks, and coveted U.S. Attorney’s Offices competed to recruit on our campus. I interviewed with some 18 of them over the course of a one week. However, there was one harsh reality that I was acutely aware of. The profession of being an attorney at any of these reputable employers required the employed (in this case me) to perform and compete with the asset of my personal time. In other words, if I joined a law firm and wanted to be a great attorney (and rewarded as a great attorney), I would need to compete with time. With law firms, this is especially true since one has an explicit expectation to bill a certain number of hours to clients per year. For first year law graduates, this routinely translates into 12-16 hour work days 6 days per week.
In law school, I had not had this problem, even though I started law school as a mother of 2 young children (ages 2 & 1), and was pregnant during my third year. Law school requires you to perform, but it does not require you to put in a certain number of hours in a particular building. In fact, I found law school to be a wonderful experience and a wonderful balance with motherhood. I could focus 8 hours a day and be back with the children at 5. I could write and revise papers in the playroom while the children played. I could compete with quality over quantify. And, outside of classroom hours, I could balance my hours around the children’s schedules. But, I was ignorant as to the reality of the world outside of those walls. Quantity of time over quality would reign. I came to the hard conclusion that I ought to opt-out of a career that was predicated on time. I could do a lot of things. But, with young children, how could I compete on raw time and inflexibility of schedule? I would be entering a career and competing with peers in an environment in which I could not win.
In retrospect, I feel I could have considered alternative career paths in the law that was predicated less on raw number of hours. For example, I could have examined paths in academia. For a number of reasons, I did not. Alternative career paths were not highlighted on campus. Students with work-life balance requirements were encouraged not to bring up these issues in interviews. My brain was wired for fast-paced high-energy environments; I did not think academia would feed my hunger for action.
Instead, I made a raw and calculated decision to instead resort to entrepreneurship, where one’s career path is more predicated on thinking, decision-making, and creativity. And, this is the path I have been on for the last almost ten years now.