We'd like you to meet Vladimir Yelizarov, an attorney and associate at O’Melveny & Myers LLP* and a working parent! Earlier this week he took part in a panel discussion on “The Moms & Families in Balance Forum on Excellence” at the 2015 Work Life Congress hosted by Working Mother magazine.
We recently caught up with Vlad, who also was featured in a recent Life Meets Work webinar on working parents, to ask him about his experiences being a working dad in the law profession.
Life Meets Work: How far along were you in your career when you first learned you would be a new dad? What were some of the initial conversations you and your wife had regarding both of your careers?
Vlad: I vividly remember the moment that I found out my wife was pregnant. At first, we weren’t sure we could handle a little person in our lives. We had only been married for a few months. I was two months into my new career as an attorney, and my wife, pursuing her lifelong dream of become a dentist, had just submitted her school applications. We did not exactly know what to expect but agreed on three things:
- aim to be the best parents a child could ask for;
- continue to pursue our career aspirations; and
- ensure that we have a support system in place to help us along the way.
A couple of years ago, we welcomed our daughter to the world. Ten days later, my wife started her first day at NYU College of Dentistry. Later that month, we moved to a neighborhood close to our parents, who provide us with much needed support.
LMW: Were you able to take parental leave when your daughter was born? How understanding was your firm, and what steps have they taken to ensure they meet your needs as a working parent?
Vlad: I was able to take four weeks of paid paternity leave, a benefit that is generally available to all attorneys who have been with O’Melveny more than 12 months. Although I had been there only 10 months, the firm took a special interest in helping me manage the competing demands of my career and parenthood. In addition to approving my paternity leave, they have paired me with a parental coach and encouraged me to work from home at least once a week.
LMW: As you mentioned, your firm offers parental coaching. How has that been helpful?
Vlad: In addition to being a working parent, I was a co-chair of the O’Melveny NY Scholarship Program, chair of O’Melveny NY Green Committee, and was heavily involved in the day-to-day operations of EduMaKate as its co-founder and president. EduMaKate is a nonprofit organization committed to partnering with and empowering underprivileged New York City high school students to pursue a college degree and realize their career dreams. It was certainly a challenge to balance these activities with being a parent. My coach and I developed a system that has helped me to balance my professional commitments while ensuring that I devote enough time to my family.
LMW: Have you felt there are any gender differences in what's expected of you (a dad) at work compared to working moms?
Vlad: I think that law firms are starting to recognize that dads and moms alike crave work-life balance, and are offering similar flexible work policies and programs to support their employees’ family needs, regardless of their gender. While there are some supervisors that expect more from a working dad than a working mom, I have not felt any such differences in my working group.
LMW: Any advice for new and soon-to-be working parents--and speaking personally, working dads in particular?
Vlad: First, having children is unlikely to have a negative impact on your career. While it may feel uncomfortable and challenging, the reality is that your peers and colleagues will often recognize you for your independence and leadership.
Additionally, being a parent has made me a better attorney. I’ve become more efficient in my work so that I can spend more time with my daughter, which in turn makes firm’s partners and clients happy.
Finally, make sure to communicate to your supervisors some of the challenges you are facing at home and share with your spouse any challenges you are facing at work. This open communication will strengthen your support system as you face these challenges.
*O'Melveny & Myers LLP is a client of Life Meets Work. For more information on New Parent Career Coaching and our other work-flex offerings, including training, communications and consulting, please contact us online or email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.