What is the greatest pearl of wisdom I would pass on to my younger self?
Easy. It is the same important lesson that financial superwoman Helena Morrissey and the fabulous author Caitlin Moran have recently shared.
Caitlin put it thus: ‘Nine times out of ten a woman’s life will only be as good as the man she marries ….. Of all the married women I know who have children, all the ones who are successful in their careers and are happy are, without exception, the ones who married, for the want of a better word, ‘good’ men…. Ones who at a bare minimum cut it 50-50 with the housework, childcare and emotional upkeep. In fact the more their partners do – the more they engage in childcare and housework – the higher those women fly.”
So if you are a heterosexual woman planning on pursuing a successful career in the law and becoming a mother, take note. Women married to women rarely have to consider the same problem – a friend of mine (previously married to a man) who began a relationship with a woman found it wonderful ’to have another me at home’ so she did not have to think of everything herself. But for the rest of us finding a good man is key.
Being a lawyer, whichever branch you chose, is such a big, important, all consuming job that to have a partner who does not fully support you in your career or who thinks that their career is more important than yours or that you should sacrifice your career prospects when family comes along is going to make it all the more difficult.
This profession is bloody hard. Even if you work in the most family friendly firm possible you will not be able to progress if you do 9.30 to 5.30. You will frequently need to work into the night and attend countless evening marketing events. Doing everything at home too will simply break the camel’s back. If some chap expects you to do all the child-organising, shopping, cooking and washing on top of working you will find it is not physically possible without you becoming exhausted, resentful or a client of your own firm’s family team.
I am not trying to put you off becoming a lawyer, in fact I am encouraging you to be a tremendously successful one but in order to do this you need to know that you will need to share all domestic responsibilities 50/50. Or more, as Caitlin Moran says…
There are definitely men out there who will do this for you – supportive men who will value your career and be proud of your achievements. Make sure that you find one. It will ensure you can reach your potential and that you are both wonderful role models for your children.
And a final tip: read Why Mummy Drinks by Gill Simms. It is hilarious and her reference to having ‘eleventy billion’ things to achieve in one day is spot on if you are a lawyer and a mother. Hopefully the book will act as a very effective contraceptive for anyone thinking of having a family with someone who has no intention of pulling their weight. I read it and raised a toast to my very ‘good’ husband.
Nicola Hill is head of the regulatory team at Kingsley Napley