After taking one year off to have a baby, I am now returning to the job market. Are there any family friendly, part-time, or 9-5 options out there?
Although it is hard for mothers everywhere, the legal profession can be especially daunting for those looking to combine work with family, especially for those in major cities where the hours tend to be very long. Government agencies tend to have regular hours, as does in-house, where you can also still command a sizable paycheck. Small firms vary tremendously in their hours; you pretty much have to go through the interview process at a firm to discern if their hours will be reasonable. The same can be said for small firm salaries, which vary widely and cannot always be discerned before the interview.
Look for a small firm where others in the firm have families and may have paved the way for you. Or firms where there is some acceptance for telecommuting and work via email and phone. Unfortunately, the nature of litigation lends itself to late nights and unmovable deadlines. Sometimes transactional practice areas can have better hours. One lawyer I know with two small sons set up a solo practice out of her house, doing mainly wills and real estate closings. I recently learned of an organization called the Flextime Lawyers Association with monthly lunch programs for lawyers looking to find flexible options. While right now it is only located in Philadelphia and New York, it is worth checking them out.
You have to give flexibility to get it in return, so if you are willing to give up benefits and work as an independent contractor, or work with some degree of uncertainty as far as job security goes, you have more options. You may have better luck if you can propose a part-time or consulting deal to an employer rather than looking on the internet for a part-time legal job to be advertised. You might try getting back in touch with prior employers.
Timing is everything- what you may give up now in terms of salary, you may get back in a future job when you have older children and more time to work. Enjoy your family.