seen attorneys even blow deadlines with- out affecting their cases. That is not to say I find that acceptable, and I still almost never have asked for extensions, but I also came to realize that giving myself severe anxiety of minor slip-ups is completely unwarranted. The upshot is that I no longer apologize for who I am. If someone makes an accom- modation for me, instead of apologizing for any inconvenience, I express gratitude for the accommodation. I keep my head high and present myself with confidence. Know Your Needs Mothers are notorious for putting them- selves last. Mommy conversations are often riddled with jokes about trying to squeeze in basic self-care needs like showering and combing our hair. Many women in this era also do not like asking for help out of fear of being perceived as weak. At a profes- sional level, I carefully scale my practice in a manageable way. I owe this to myself, my family, and to my clients. I also have learned to ask for help frommy colleagues. Being a Mom-at-Law is no easy task and is not for everyone. It takes a lot of commit- ment, drive, and, at times, accepting being unconventional. And as your children grow and become more independent, maybe, just maybe, you will miss those days of mothering while lawyering. Danya Shakfeh is an attorney practicing in Illinois. She owns her own practice, Shakfeh Law, LLC, and has been selected as an Illi- nois Rising Star by SuperLawers™ for 2015 and 2016. Her practice focuses on contracts, business law, and litigation. She is also the proud mother of two children, ages 3 and 1, and a wife to a supportive husband.
a mother and solo attorney from a social perspective. When I was pregnant with my first child in 2012, I acted as if I did not have a child. I did not tell my clients and did not officially take any time off. I was even back in court one week after giving birth. Though I did slow down my practice by not taking new clients, I otherwise went on with business as usual. It was incredibly stressful. During my second pregnancy, less than two years after my first, I read Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In , and she actually encourages mothers to take time off for their maternity leaves. With my second child, I decided to take a completely dif- ferent approach. The second time around, I emailed all of my clients about two months before my due date and informed them I was expecting. In the email, I explained that I was taking a six-week maternity leave, assured them that their cases would be unaffected, that I had backup attorneys should an event warrant such attention, that I would still be available to contact, and lastly, that if they had anything that was time sensitive, to please inform me
before my leave so I could address them as soon as possible. When scheduling court dates, I told the judge I was expecting and scheduled accordingly, without a hitch. Everyone was understanding. And nothing bad happened . My cases went on without a problem. I was less stressed and could take the time to really enjoy the first few weeks of motherhood. Another manifestation of my new- found approach to being unapologetic about my mom-at-law status is that I will casually mention my children in profes- sional conversation. Previously, I never mentioned that I had two young children because I thought people might perceive me as being less competent or committed. I never wanted to ask for an extension of time or explain to another lawyer that I had to take the day off because my child was sick. But then I realized I would not be here if I was not competent. I would not be here if I was not committed. Instead, now I choose to “own” my solo-attorney mother status. As an aside, I have seen attorneys ask for (and be granted) many extensions of time for no particular reason and have