2/3rds of lawyers feel held back after children

Nearly two-thirds of lawyers feel less optimistic about their career prospects after having children, with 58% of respondents to a recent survey indicating they feel it holds back their professional opportunities. 

The research has been conducted by Realm Recruit who have identified the trend in a new “Parenting in the Law” guide. The recruiter surveyed 105 lawyers from its network on topics relating to being a working parent within the law and found that just 6% of legal professionals feel more hopeful about their future career prospects since starting a family. The remaining 35% suggested they felt “neutral.”

More reassuringly around 70% of respondents indicated they felt that their firm supported their role as a working parent, with 69% of respondents reducing their working hours to deal with the responsibilities of becoming parents.

In response to a question about the way firms support staff who have children three quarters of respondents indicated their firms offered the option of home working, with half indicating their firm provided flexi-time or compressed hours working options.

Amongst concerns for working parents burnout and mental load (76%) and the cost of childcare (74%) featured heavily in responses, with school holiday (75%) also scoring highly. For lawyers planning on becoming parents in the future the cost of childcare (88%), the cost of living (76%) and a lack of flexibility (76%) were the main concerns.

Paid leave for fertility treatment and baby-loss is a current topic of conversation with Baby-loss awareness week w/c 9th October, with few firms providing paid leave/support for fertility treatment (11%) or paid leave for pregnancy loss (13%).

Realm Recruit’s Head of Client Experience, Sarah Glynn, comments:

“At Realm, we work with lots of lawyers who are working parents to help them have fulfilling and successful legal careers. We understand the challenges long hours and punishing caseloads can pose for these individuals, and unfortunately, our research has confirmed that many are finding juggling having a family and maintaining a successful legal career difficult.

“While most working parents feel supported by their employer, this is not the case for everyone. There are steps law firms can do to better support these professionals and it makes good business sense to do so.

“We are currently in a legal talent crisis, where the number of lawyers actively looking for a new role has fallen from 40% in 2019 to 10% in 2023. Law firms have an opportunity to reduce their growth challenges by putting in place favourable parental policies and working to cultivate a supportive work environment and culture that embraces parenthood as a normal part of the profession.

“Firms that look to do this will not only have happier employees who feel motivated and supported to reach their full potential, but they will be better able to attract and retain the very best people and meet their commercial aims.”

“Parenting in the Law Guide 2023” is available to review here.

Read more stories

Join nearly 5,000 other practitioners – sign up to our free newsletter

You’ll receive the latest updates, analysis, and best practice straight to your inbox.

Features