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Good letter about female lawyers in The Times today - this balances the sad story about the SJB partner who died

(69 Posts)
pasturesnew Sat 01-Aug-09 12:00:50

Sir, Vanessa Lloyd Platt (“The stress and strain of being a female lawyer”, times2, July 30) may think women lawyers with children are overly burdened, but in practice that is not so. We earn decent money, can pay for domestic help with cleaning and laundry, have the sense and financial power to ensure that we do not marry sexist men or tolerate inequalities at home, have much more control over our lives than if we worked on a factory production line and have intellectually satisfying and fascinating work.

In my 25th year as a lawyer, and a mother of five with two daughters going into the profession, I have always worked full time and consistently it has been fun both when I worked in a leading City firm and now with my own law firm. Nothing is as stressful as being at home with three children under 5 all day.

Successful lawyers have money, choice, power and control and it is lack of these that causes most stress. Pity the mother on the minimum wage queueing for a bus at 5am to clean for a living, not the privileged few. If we do not like the heat we can always get out of the kitchen.

MrsBadger Sat 01-Aug-09 12:05:29

saw that one and she has a point

although the article on Thursday by Alice Thomson [rummages] here was I thought more useful in terms of doing something positive to help the next generation of girls.

Lizzylou Sat 01-Aug-09 12:08:24

I agree.
Although not all Lawyers earn City type salaries, those in general practice, practising in Family/Criminal law for instance.
I work in Legal Recruitment and the difference between the salaries on offer in Corporate/Commercial in City Centres and Legal Aid type work in small towns is vast. Both types of Lawyers will have big Uni/Law school debts to pay off at the start of their careers.

But yes, hardly minimum wage in any event

pasturesnew Sat 01-Aug-09 12:14:49

Thanks MrsB that is a good one.

That reminds me, I was annoyed with ^Marie Claire^ recently as it had a big section about women's careers and only seemed to focus on fashionably attractive ("hobby" or even, although I hate to say it, "wifey" careers) rather than ones which would actually be more likely to provide women with the ability to have the independence to have homes and children if they want regardless of who they decide to settle down with.

For example:

- a photographer - how lovely, oh I see she used to be a City banker, mmhmm, so her financial stability actually rests on previous earnings sensibly saved and not on her new arty career
- lady with some kind of eco-business website, oh look, how bling are the 2 rings on her finger? Not married to a hedge fund manager at all then?

Although they did have a textile designer who seemed to have a genuine career as just that because it explained how she had helped to design a technical fabric that has reduced water resistance, i.e. not a "pretty colours" design but a scientific achievement.

KERALA1 Sat 01-Aug-09 12:17:27

Think I recognise the profile of the woman that wrote that letter and she posts on here..

MrsBadger Sat 01-Aug-09 12:17:53

oh they are always shite

bunting-cupcake businesses to a woman

policywonk Sat 01-Aug-09 12:19:32


I take your point that, in an article about all the careers available to a woman, not all of them should be low-earning and/or creative jobs. But let's not run too far with the idea that low-earning or creative jobs are without value. Not everyone wants to place financial reward at the front and centre of their professional life. I sure as hell don't. Nevertheless, I could support and house my children if I needed to.

MarshaBrady Sat 01-Aug-09 12:21:54

A good friend is a textile designer who provides for her family, big house, enough for school fees etc. However she wouldn't appear in Marie Claire because it would be devaluing her brand, and she wouldn't be interested in it.

Sure there are plenty of high earning female photographers, but they would aiming for gallery catalogue, well except for fashion photographers whose work will be in magazines.

Not much point, except that Marie Claire will always attract a certain type of woman to be in their magazine.

pasturesnew Sat 01-Aug-09 12:27:55

I know Kerala but I thought "outing" on this site was infra dig.

Obviously it's too boring to have the following type of profiles instead:
- commercial lawyer
- private client lawyer
- tax lawyer
- competition lawyer
- IP lawyer
etc. etc.
(cos obv all lawyers = corporate lawyers on 3 a.m. deals, family lawyers, or criminal barristers innit)
- consulting accountant e.g. in Big 4 type firm
- management accountant e.g. in-house in blue-chip co.
- HR professional (CIPD)
- IT consultant
- project manager (Prince 2 methodology)
- scientific researcher
- lecturer
- all the many diff. types of hospital doctor
- naval architect
i.e. millions of interesting professions I know about NOW but didn't know about at school or even at university and would have liked to be told about a bit more

No, it always has to be arty or domestic in some way. I can take it from chick lit but I object to it in Marie Claire.

LeninGrad Sat 01-Aug-09 12:30:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

pasturesnew Sat 01-Aug-09 12:31:42

Def. not saying that low-earning and/or creative jobs are without value (and I note that the 2 concepts are not, and should not be seen to be, linked) just that the impression is given that the only interesting women do arty or hobby jobs and that any women in a professional career with a clear path of study and progression must be boring.

LeninGrad Sat 01-Aug-09 12:34:07

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LeninGrad Sat 01-Aug-09 12:35:25

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MarshaBrady Sat 01-Aug-09 12:35:36

Lots of females who do arty careers (although they wouldn't call it that) are high earners, independent and successful.

The annoying housewife/ domestic / arty stereotype doesn't do them any favours either. (It creates an image which they have to fight against, oh children and creative career = hobbyist.)

I agree though, about the professional careers never getting a mention. Marie Claire must be trying to aim for a certain market (wealthy wife at home?) to so consistently leave them out.

pasturesnew Sat 01-Aug-09 12:36:00

LOL sorry I think I hijacked my own thread - is that possible?

policywonk Sat 01-Aug-09 12:41:03

Agree with Marsha. There is an insidious snobbery about non-professional careers. Feminism (IMO) isn't just about women gaining access to traditionally male careers; it's also about destigmatising traditionally female occupations.

Do people really read Marie Claire expecting to see proper feminist values (rather than a bit of ersatz feminist window-dressing)?

pasturesnew Sat 01-Aug-09 12:43:24

You'd think so about target market wouldn't you MarshaBrady but surely that wouldn't leave the magazine with much of a market share?

Apparently, in the UK, economic value will be increasingly derived not from raw material and physical production but from exploiting knowledge. A growing consensus is emerging that the key sources of future UK wealth will be:

- environmental and energy based industries;
- business and financial services;
- creative industries; and,
- education services.*

So this is what all young people (not jsut girls) should be told about presumably as we strive to sort out the economy?

I don't mean my comments to mean that only making money is important, it's appreciate that personal fulfilment comes into the mix too, but surely everyone needs a better informed overall picture and it is horrendously lazy "women's" journalism in particular that puts people into the boxes of city job, wifey job, or SAHM...


pasturesnew Sat 01-Aug-09 12:46:59

Thanks policywonk, this makes me realise I must be a feminist - TBH I had hoped that my mother's generation had sorted that out and we could get on with being individual people, but apparently not, since as long as wimmin are grouped together in this crappy way by press written for and by women we need to fight it. I do expect Marie Claire to be better than the Daily Mail in this respect, yes, as I have never seen DM mention fighting against female circumcision etc.

poppy34 Sat 01-Aug-09 12:48:26

absolutely agree as someone who is one of the boringprofiles pasturesnew mentions that for me going back to work less stressful than being at home fulltime. Whilst I am not saying working life has its challenges when juggling with kids, I do think its been positive having time out as completely agree leningrad that gives you a new perspective.

That said I did spend a long time thinking/planning about how it would be when I came back and being as leningrad says as assertive re working hours as I would be about not letting my dd throw herself down the stairs.

foxinsocks Sat 01-Aug-09 12:54:57

Re the letter, stress is a personal thing. What is stress to one person isn't to another. Being at home with 3 children under 5 might be an idea of hell for one person but not for another.

But have to agree with the lack of choice, power and control however, that doesn't always only apply to those who earn the least. Often those in well paid jobs perceive they have those problems when in reality they probably don't.

pasturesnew Sat 01-Aug-09 13:04:54

equally I suppose the sad case of the SJ Berwin lady shows that high-earners can feel that they have lack of choice, power and control sad

alibubbles Sat 01-Aug-09 13:08:24

Yes a regular Mn, but I don't think she is too worried about be 'outed' It is pretty easy to identify her from a lot of her previous posts. I enjoy reading her posts, and the reaction to some of them! smile

foxinsocks Sat 01-Aug-09 13:13:14

well exactly. I did a thread on that at the time (in the news section) but I suspect there probably was some element of post natal depression at play (was mentioned at the inquest) which, of course, makes you see perceive your life in a different way.

My concern with working is the cost and accessibility of childcare. The whole childcare industry (for want of a better word) just breeds inequality and I still think, one of the biggest stresses of working (other than the work itself) is the childcare arrangements (or lack of them). Have those sorted, as most people are able to do if they have enough disposable income or live in a large house, then working life becomes a lot easier. Muddling together childcare, as many have to do, makes life v stressful!

Fayrazzled Sat 01-Aug-09 13:22:22

I'm not sure the letter to The Times is that helpful actually. It's great for the writer that she is able to combine having a professional career and 5 children with working in the City/having her own business by buying in domestic help. But actually a lot of women don't want to do this. Some do, and that's great for them because they're happy. But what about the women who want to maintain a professional career but who don't want to do 60 hours a week plus and outsource their children's lives to a nanny?

Surveys show time and again that the majority of women want to work in decent, fairly paid part-time work that makes the most of their experience, education and skills. For some women this will mean in the professions, for others this will be equally valid other types of career or even just a "job". But whatever it is, it enables them to spend some time at home with their children AND work in their chosen field. Unfortunately there is very little PT work out there that meets these criteria.

We can only speculate about the lawyer at SJBerwins's state of mind. But I still think it is very difficult for women to combine a professional (or other career) working the kinds of hours expected in the City, for example, and bring up children, without feeling they are compromising significantly somewhere. And all the money in the world to pay for a cleaner or a nanny doesn't help you get over those feelings and the stress/anxiety/guilt it can induce.

LeninGrad Sat 01-Aug-09 13:25:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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