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Maintaining A Life When You Work In Law

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Marci Rose Levine juggles time with her twins, Garrett (l) and Jason, with the demands of her role as a partner at a major Washington law firm.
Tara Boyle
Marci Rose Levine juggles time with her twins, Garrett (l) and Jason, with the demands of her role as a partner at a major Washington law firm.

It's a Friday afternoon, and Marci Rose Levine is playing with her 2-year-old twins, Garrett and Jason, in the kitchen of their Bethesda home.

"We had a really great morning," she says. "They took a good long nap, and so this is the first time when we've really been home, just sitting and dealing with all their energy."

Levine is a partner at the Washington law firm SNR Denton. Usually, Fridays are when she catches up on everything that didn't make it into the rest of the week. That's because she works a reduced schedule, with Fridays off and an earlier departure time Monday through Thursday.

"That generally means I leave the office around 4:45 or so each day so I can pick up my children from preschool and regular school. So I do work some odd times, after they go to bed, sometimes on the weekends... but I do have a lot of flexibility, which is what is important for me."

About 10 percent of the attorneys in her practice group at SNR Denton have some sort of flexible work arrangement, according to Levine, and a growing number of attorneys appear to be seeking this sort of work-life balance. The push-back isn't surprising considering the demands being put on attorneys today, says Manar Morales, executive director of the Project for Attorney Retention (PAR).

"Back in 1963, 1,300 billable hours a year was considered full-time," says Morales. "In 1985 it was 1,800 billable hours, and today it's 2,000. Plus, some firms have 2,200 billable hours a year."

Levine says it's possible -- with a bit of planning -- to climb the career ladder and have a family in Washington's demanding legal world. And she thinks there are also benefits for law firms that embrace this policy.

"There's value to having diversity in the workplace, and there's value to having the diversity of ideas that we bring to our clients," she says. "Because they're expecting the best and brightest of us to help them through their most critical legal issues."

[Music: "Hard Day's Night" by 101 Strings Orchestra from 101 Strings Orchestra Plays The Beatles]

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