Lessons From Covid-19: Who is a Lawyer, Anyway?

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Ed. NoticeThis is the last in our series of blog posts about motherhood in the legal profession, in partnership with our friends at Mothers. Please welcome Julia Gesking to our pages. Click Here If you wish to donate to MothersEsquire.

My path to law was not traditional at all. I started law school in my early 30s, finished my 3L year in Hawaii, married a conscripted service member, and have been moving around the country ever since. I have worked remotely in a veterans law practice since graduation, which is perfect since I can work from home, set my hours (more or less), and never have to worry about where we moved because my job was portable!

Although working in yoga pants all day and hanging out with my dog ​​was cool, the Hulk, or lack of it, never gave me a chance to “feel like a real lawyer” (whatever that means). I loved the work I had done and it kept me going and gaining experience. I’ve always found reasons not to try anything different in my career, and it’s usually because of my husband’s profession, such as potential spread, months-long training in another state, other movement, difficulties getting childcare, etc.

After a few years of practice, I was still having a hard time feeling like I was in control of my career and was worried that the choices I made in my life (starting late, getting married in the military, working from home, etc.) were preventing me from being around. “A true lawyer.” Like many attorney mothers, I suffer from imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome can be defined as “Experience the feeling of being a fake – you feel as though you will be discovered at any moment as an impostor – as if you don’t belong where you are, and only got there through stupid luck. “It is this terrible, disturbing thought that is taking my pride I should Becoming a lawyer feels the inherent fulfillment, satisfaction and fulfillment I should I feel the great work I do for my clients.

When COVID-19 struck a year ago, I thought it wouldn’t make much difference to me because I would continue to do what I had always done, work from home and probably not have daycare. Like everyone else, the scale of the COVID-19 impact was unclear to me at first (“flatten the curve!”). COVID-19 hasn’t changed my schedule, but it has changed my view. As the pandemic spreads, I have seen the wall between professionals and personalities begin to crack. The news is now popping up in the homes of reporters, critics, and politicians rather than professionally lit studios. Articles about how to adjust to working from home, how your children argue as they try to stay at work, and advertisements for comfortable “work” clothing suitable for the home work crowd are newly emerging everywhere.

I no longer feel obligated to make excuses to my barking dog or my little boy when I was on the phone with clients. It became normal for me to return an email at 10 PM, because obviously I made my little one sleep in their teething because – no babysitting! Finally, everyone understood the struggle. As terrible as the epidemic was, I was fortunate to realize that much of the “actual lawyer” part that I thought I was missing was not real and only existed in my head as an ideal.

Imposter syndrome is not common among female lawyers and female lawyers of color. The path I chose in life only added to the problem because the isolation and lack of support inherent in the constant moves and working remotely added to the feeling of not belonging. I managed to spend most of my son’s first two years of life at home with him and still work (though) mostly part-time). As a result of COVID-19, many women Expelled them from the workforce Many of them have lost productivity as a result of trying to take care of children at home due to distance learning. If you’ve learned anything in the last year, it’s that there is no single way to be a lawyer, a mother, or an attorney. After a year of seeing how remote work (with kids!) Affects other lawyers I know, I realize that we all face the same difficulties. This might sound counterintuitive, but it wasn’t always an easy concept for me when I was working from home in sweat while my son was spending some time on his stomach on the floor and others in their office, wearing “actual clothes” and doing “actual attorney.” This new perspective has given me more confidence in my work and allowed me to see the value in the choices I’ve made. In fact, I had a few more lawyer friends who called for tips for working from home! Although some might say that my choices have limited my career, I think it all depends on the type of career you want. I learn that my profession makes me no less than a lawyer and that I can work successfully in the way that suits me and my family.

Julia Gesking is a graduate of the University of Detroit Law School in Detroit, Michigan, and has been representing veterans and their eligible dependents exclusively since they were banned in 2014. Julia represents clients as they pursue veteran benefit claims before the Veterans Claims Appeals Court and the Veterans Appeals Board. She is married to a sergeant on active duty and they have a two-year-old son. They currently reside “wherever the military tells them” with their dogs and four cats. Julia can be reached at julia@vetrightslaw.com or juliangieseking@gmail.com.

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