I have not written a post in some time but was inspired to do so when I saw this reference in a recent New York Times article to a program that provides women lawyers returning to the workforce (after years spent caring for children or other family members) with paid internships at top New York law firms. [1]

One of the toughest issues women lawyers who opt out of the workforce face when they are ready to return is how incredibly difficult it can be to even get in the door for an interview given the stigma attached to taking time off.  This program eliminates that difficulty by providing women with the key to that door and also acknowledges that years spent caring for loved ones doesn’t diminish one’s talents and ability (and may even provide them with additional life experience and contacts that can later provide invaluable. See: last week’s episode (#14) of The Good Wife).  I like too that the program normalizes culturally the ideaThe Good Wife that it is ok to come in and out of the workforce.

Both lawyering and motherhood are incredibly demanding and time-intensive.  The idea that a woman, particularly one who is driven to excel like many lawyers are, might want to devote her attention fully to one or the other at different points in her life makes perfect sense.

Taking care of children and devoting time to that doesn’t mean a woman gives up completely on other personal and professional goals.  A program like this acknowledges that fact and reduces the penalty that women experience if they do leave the workforce.  I am excited to see a something like this and hope to see more in the future.

1. According to the New York Times article, several applicants to the program were women who recently completed the New Directions for Attorneys program that Pace Law School started in 2007 to help people return to the legal profession.