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Solicitors - best time for kids?!

(8 Posts)
WyldChyld Mon 29-Dec-14 14:52:59

I'm two years into a 4 year LLB LPC and loving it, applying for training contracts and (fingers crossed) seem to be in a good position for getting one. Don't want to be in London - think large high street firm as opposed to Magic Circle.

The big question is DH and I would like kids but no idea when is a "good" time to have them without destroying any chance of a career? So... take a year out after LPC? After two years of TC? After I qualify? During Law school? It's so confusing and massive cons to all of them.

Any ideas / experiences are very welcome!

Fridayschild Mon 29-Dec-14 15:13:03

I had trouble TTC and so I was a salaried partner before DC1 arrived. This worked well in the end but I didn't plan to be 34 before having children!

The training contract and qualification are natural pause points in a legal career. However it is easier to go part time from a full time job. In addition if you work at a firm first you will get some feel for whether they are any good at employing mothers in fee earning roles or not. The other factor is that it's easier to control your diary / work at home the less supervision you need i.e. the more senior you are. Then do you want a gap between children?

This points to child one at or after year post-qualification, when you have some idea of your job and the firm. But as you can tell from my first sentence, babies don't always arrive on schedule! Really you have it right when you say there are lots of pros and cons. I would say from my friends' experience that if you give up completely when DC are born and think you can go back when they are at school you are mistaken.

At interview/ job placements the key question (if you dare ask) is the proportion of equity partners who are mothers. And without wishing to diss stepmothers, I do mean actual mothers who have taken actual maternity /adoption leave.

If you decide to have children at uni/during training contract I suggest you look for Susan Singleton and read what she has written about having children for one perspective. She worked for City firms but now runs her own practice. She was on MN for a while but I haven't seen her post recently. Her maternity leaves were REALLY short - bear in mind her oldest DCs are now working and all mat leaves were shorter in those days - but even so she does rather go to extremes.

WyldChyld Mon 29-Dec-14 15:23:01

Thank you for this! We've said we want to have probably two or three kids but I've always said I wouldn't want to be a SAHM - no offence to people who are but I have always wanted to work and will be the higher paid parent (sorry DH - worthwhile job, shite pay!)

And yes, as you say - all the planning doesn't necessarily mean anything!

Living Mon 29-Dec-14 17:01:10

I'm a career changer and so had two kids when I did my LPC and TC. I'd recommend waiting until you have an NQ job before you have kids. Of you do a TC with kids you need to have rock solid childcare. Contrary to popular law school belief getting a TC isn't the end of it - having a TC isn't a guarantee of a job on qualification (or the job you want on qualification). If you're putting in less hours because you're having to run at 5 to get to the child minder everyday then practically someone who stays until 10 if needed will get preference. Regardless of whether or not that's fair, it's reality.

That said this assumes you're in your mid/ early 20s. If you're a career changer and therefore older don't put off TTC. There will be no perfect time!

WyldChyld Mon 29-Dec-14 19:45:04

I'm mid 20s - came to law on a round about route haha. Thanks for the advice - that's the scary thing with the current system in that it's so difficult to get a TC that what happens afterwards almost doesn't feature!

Chunderella Mon 29-Dec-14 19:51:42

Wouldn't fancy doing a training contract with young kids. This has come up before on here, and I thnk the consensus from all of us who are solicitors now was the same. It's not just about being dedicated, it's also about looking dedicated, and the sad truth is that taking time off for pregnancy related sickness or appointments makes some senior people call your attitude into question. Also, the end of your training contract is a natural 'cutoff point' and excuse for them to get rid of you if they want to, so being pregnant or having taken ML just compounds that really. I finished mine at nearly 26, had DC1 at 27 and will be having DC2 at 30. I'm not considered 5 years pqe though as didn't go on the roll straight away and not all my jobs have needed a PC (lots of time in advice and legal charity sectors). Can never quite work out whether doing it this way, ie not particularly young or old, is the best or worst of both worlds.

I believe Susan Singleton is still with us and still quite a prolific poster. Her views are very well known!

WyldChyld Tue 30-Dec-14 21:20:24

This is great, thank you. It's such a minefield! I've been approached / sent to some Magic Circle firms and the possibility of working for them is incredible but we'd agreed (DH and I) that we couldn't cope with living in London / the stress and work levels even for the two years and that we liked the ethos of the law firms closer to where we live already. So having navigated that mindfield in terms of "I want a life as well as a career" it makes it even more difficult! I love law, I want to be successful, I have zero issue with working really hard and doing the long hours and flexible stuff but I want a life as well

YoungGirlGrowingOld Tue 30-Dec-14 21:37:10

Late 30's partner here. No kids. Not intentionally, but I didn't meet DH until I was 34. We are now having IVF so I have quite possibly left it too late!

In my firm (city/international but not MC) i would not want to have kids under about 5PQE. Before that, you don't really work independently enough to give you the freedom you need to work flexibly. Also you are more "replaceable" because you have comparatively little experience in practice. Sorry if that sounds harsh. However that is the stage at which I wish I had met DH and got duffed up!

Much depends on the firm and specialism, of course. However, as a PP has said, TC is probably the worst time. Right or wrong, the firm will be looking to max your chargeable hours and if you have any caring responsibilities they may see that as a disincentive to offering you a NQ job (unless you are really bloody good!)

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