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Perspectives on Women in the Workplace: Insights from Women of PRK Livengood

This March, we celebrate Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day. Though equity in the workplace has increased over the years, being a working woman today still holds its own unique challenges.

Women still tackle household responsibilities at a disproportionate rate, which can make a satisfying work-life balance even more difficult, and though progress has been made, many women still struggle to catch up to their male colleagues in terms of representation and pay. And while we know women are more likely than men to have earned a bachelor’s degree by age 29, they still only hold about a quarter of chief executive positions in the United States.

Our own industry also has room for improvement. According to the American Bar Association, the number of women in law has increased dramatically since the 1970s, but they still only make up about 38 percent of attorneys today. In celebration of their accomplishments and in the spirit of continued progress, we reached out to the women of PRK Livengood to get their take on what it is like to be a working woman in 2024.

What advice would you give to young women who are considering a career in law?

Carolyn Frederick, Attorney: Embarking on a career in law can be both challenging and rewarding. My advice to young women considering this path is to embrace resilience and perseverance and cultivate mentorships early in your career; these relationships can provide invaluable guidance, support, and opportunities for growth.

Tami Snow, Paralegal: When it comes to choosing a field of law, find what you enjoy and what suits your skillset. I always wanted to work as a criminal defense paralegal or medical malpractice paralegal. After receiving my paralegal certificate, I started working as a medical malpractice paralegal, but quickly found out that this field just leaves me feeling heavy-hearted after a work day. I really enjoy working in litigation, so I am glad that I found a firm that enables me to pursue that interest while also working in a variety of other areas of law (i.e. school law, real estate, employment, etc.).

Marcia Ellsworth, Partner: At the center of a legal career is having the skills and tools to help clients solve (or prevent) problems, as well as the opportunity to continuously learn new things about clients, their businesses, and the law.  Communication, curiosity, critical thinking, and creativity are extremely valuable skills in effective problem solving. Develop these skills and be prepared for a new adventure every day!

A recent Gallup report found that working women in the United States and Canada were among the most stressed employees globally, and it’s no surprise. Statistically disproportionate domestic and childcare responsibilities paired with a demanding job can lead to burnout at a higher rate in women than it does in men. For a working woman in 2024, is work/life balance a real thing? How do you balance your professional responsibilities with personal life and self-care?

Tami Snow, Paralegal: Once you have a job that is flexible and understanding, I think work-life balance is achievable. Since becoming a mother last year, I have found the balance through working at a firm that understands my current life situation, learning some time management skills to help me manage it all.

When trying to find work/life balance, women should know going in that there are some sacrifices that have to be made, but ultimately it all works out. For example, I am not able to stay up late during the week. I go to bed at a reasonable hour so that I can fit in my 5am workouts before work, and have more time to spend with my daughter in the afternoon.  I am grateful to be working at PRK Livengood, because I am able to work remotely in the afternoons and I get to see my daughter for more hours in the day. I also don’t have to work weekends or long hours, and that allows me to relax and fully take care of myself before the new workweek starts.

Wendy Allard, Partner: Candidly, the work/life balance issue begins at home.  To those who are partnered, if the home duties, child and pet duties, and life tasks are not met with equal effort (however that may be divided) at home, then a balanced life is difficult if not impossible.  I so often see the work/life balance issues raised in the context of women in the workforce and heralded as a “women’s issue.”  It is not a women’s issue; it is a human issue.  My advice is to seek equal partnership, both at home as well as in the office.  Culture can then catch up so that we arrive at a place where a balanced life is one that all genders benefit from and contribute to with equal fervor.

We appreciate the women of PRK Livengood sharing their insight with us, and we are excited to continue working in pursuit of equality in the workplace.

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