Jennifer S. Romano
WLALA President 2014-2015
Summer is a balancing act – professional commitments mixed with varying camp schedules for my kids, a vacation and other appointments I am trying to fit in. I always have been cautious about how much of my personal life I reveal to my colleagues, often keeping this balancing act to myself.
Recent research reported in the New York Times suggests that my concerns may be valid. An article titled How Some Men Fake an 80-Hour Workweek, and Why It Matters reports on research by Erin Reid, a professor at Boston University, whose work suggests that asking for workplace flexibility to accommodate personal commitments can be detrimental to your career. But, discreetly tending to your personal commitments (or “faking it”) seems to have no negative effect. The study also found that women are more likely to ask for accommodations, and men are more likely to quietly lighten their workload, by taking on less, finding local clients to avoid travel or ducking out to a child’s soccer game.
Even if we are not officially asking for accommodations, are we better off quietly “ducking out” to tend to personal commitments without sharing the details with others? The “quiet” approach may be more challenging for lawyers, especially those who are early in their careers. Most law firms still rely primarily on the billable hour for revenues. And, many senior lawyers value face time with junior members on their team. But, regardless of these challenges, Ms. Reid’s research suggests that advertising your child’s doctor appointment, soccer game or school performance may not be the best approach.