Remote School Is Now a Marathon, Not a Sprint. How Will Firms Support Parents?
“Back to school” has a very different meaning in the coronavirus-wracked America of 2020 than in previous years. While lawyer-parents had hoped that the end of the previous school year also meant an end to juggling work while overseeing virtual education, in the vast majority of cases their children will again be doing at least some of their learning remotely.
But compared with March, when abrupt school shutdowns forced adjustments on the fly, firms now have the ability to be more deliberate in addressing and easing the anxiety of associates, younger partners and staff who face this dual burden. They’re responding with partnerships with organizations devoted to supporting children and parents, heightened roles for internal parents groups, and—in some cases—a message that no one should worry about missing billable-hours targets.
Blank Rome was on the ball with the timing of its own affinity group for parents, which launched in March. Co-chairs Ariel Glasner and Lauren Wilgus said the plans had already been in the works, but the pandemic lent urgency to a program that would provide support and networking opportunities to fellow parents.
The pair have used surveys to solicit feedback from parents to determine specific challenges and areas of need. They’ve used the feedback to develop resources for support and to guide their discussions with firm management. A recent conversation with the firm’s managing partner about challenges presented by the new school year prompted a reminder from the top about the firm’s openness to alternative work arrangements, including transitions to part-time status.
“If we have those questions, we can easily give them answers,” said Wilgus, a parent of 9 and 7 year olds who has been working from home three days a week for the past five years and was promoted to partner at the start of 2020.
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“Remote School Is Now a Marathon, Not a Sprint. How Will Firms Support Parents?” by Dan Packel was published in The American Lawyer on August 19, 2020.