Ed. NBThis is the last in our series of blog posts about motherhood in the legal profession, in partnership with our friends at Mothers. Welcome Lynsi Brantley to our pages. Click Here If you wish to donate to MothersEsquire.
Lawyers work long hours in a hostile, high-pressure environment. Mothers do pretty much the same. If you are a lawyer And the Um … May God grant you success. However, even though our work is greatly undervalued as mothers, we at least get fair compensation as attorneys. right?
not exactly. According to the most recent census data, the legal profession has the largest gender wage gap of any occupation, with women getting 54.7% of what men do for the same work. And it’s even worse at the top: At the largest U.S. law firms, the total compensation for female partners is 53% less than that of their male colleagues.
Income inequality puts a lot of pressure on mothers who have jobs that require jobs outside the home. If you are on a low income, you may find yourself asking a lot of tough questions. Do you have to work fewer hours to do more tasks at home? Do you have the same decision-making power when it comes to family matters? Can you even ask your partner to share the responsibility for the home and childcare?
Each of these questions is symptomatic of a deeper issue: Women are not valued for our contributions, either at work or at home. It doesn’t matter how many hours we miss or how many diapers we change – we seldom get fair compensation for our time, energy, and experience.
We must all strive for equal pay, regardless of industry or gender. Until then, here are three strategies that helped me realize my worth even though I earn less from my husband. If you are in a similar situation, these strategies may also be helpful for you.
- Look at your gross salary, not just your salary
Be careful not to focus on your salary alone to determine your total income. This number doesn’t tell the whole story in a long shot. For example, I am a government attorney, and my salary tends to be on the lower end of the curve. But I’m also receiving full government benefits: the best health insurance available, and a comfortable retirement plan for you to bypass. If you turn on the numbers, insurance and retirement can equal tens of thousands of dollars in extra income each year.
Your financial position is unique and more complex than the number on the paycheck. It’s easy to miss the hidden income you make in other areas, so be sure to do a full evaluation. Don’t just look at the benefits either. If you work part-time or telecommute, you can save your family thousands in childcare. If your company serves lunch a few times a week, you are saving on groceries or ready meals. All this means, be sure to look beyond your paycheck if you want to know your total compensation. The wage gap between you and your spouse may be much smaller than you thought.
- Take a global approach to your family’s finances
The idea of the two becoming one in marriage can be difficult. You must not lose your individual identity when you become a wife. Your personal goals and accomplishments are important, as are your spouse. But now you both work as a team, and the surest way to establish a team mindset is by combining finances. No more accounts and accounts, no more separate debts, no more secret credit cards.
There are many benefits to pooling your money. First, shared bank accounts have twice the federal insurance coverage of individual accounts. Second, household expenses are less of a hassle when you don’t have to decide who pays the bills. Third, taking a holistic approach to your family’s income will give you a healthier earnings mindset. Instead of saying, “I make $ 5,000 in pay period and he earns $ 10,000,” start by saying, “We make $ 15,000 in pay period.” Financial decision-making (really, the whole decision-making process) is much easier when you and your spouse are on the same side.
- Measure success on your terms
Great money. It is a very important part of your business. But it doesn’t matter much when it comes to true job satisfaction. Lawyers place more value on the security and stability of their income than the total amount. Things like work-life balance, personal relationships, and control over the work environment are more important to lawyers’ overall happiness in their professional lives. Often times, we have to forgo higher compensation to have a better overall work experience. This is not a mistake, and it can be said that it is a better return on your career investment. You are more likely to remain in an occupation that makes you happy. If you stay in a low-income job for 20 to 30 years, your total career earnings may be slightly higher than your senior legal colleague who starts with higher pay, but drains and quits after a few years.
Income is not a success. I often hear that a woman’s profession does not succeed unless she earns more or more of the children. This is complete garbage. Your career is successful if it helps you live the life you love. You are Decide what’s best for you and your future. If that means working a job where you earn less than your spouse, great. If that means you’ve stopped practicing altogether, great. The decisions you make at the end of the day are the measure of your success.
Lynsey Brantley is an assistant attorney for Randall County in Canyon, Texas. She earned her JD from Indiana University Law School and a BA in piano performance from West Texas A&M University. She and her husband are passionate musicians, and they enjoy playing the violin and piano together in their spare time. Lynsi has a lovely baby girl and a crazy rescue dog who both make sure to give her loads of exercise while she works from home.