Lawyer Who Left BigLaw Partnership for Motherhood Returns as Pro Bono Director

A lawyer who left a BigLaw partnership to stay home with her two young daughters returned to the same law firm and helped create her new position there.

Jennifer Kroman left Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton in 2006, and says she was “crazy happy” to stay home, the Careerist reports. She received mixed reactions, but one group was most supportive of her decision—the younger women. “They said that they look to someone who’s willing to do something off the traditional track as a role model,” Kroman tells the Careerist. “It’s a bit of a countercultural attitude. I was really touched.”

Now Kroman is back at the firm as director of pro bono. She decided she wanted to return to work when her girls started school. She started her job search by networking and expressing a desire to return to law practice. She also did some nonpaying work working with law students for Sanctuary for Families, sparking her interest in pro bono.

She tells the Careerist what happened next. “I bumped into [Cleary’s] chair of litigation, and he mentioned that a lot of firms had lawyers as pro bono directors, and that planted a seed,” she said. “I submitted a job proposal about what I saw myself doing in that role. I worked with them to create the position.”

She offers this advice for others considering opting out of law practice. “Even if you think you’re not going back, you can’t drop out 100 percent,” she tells the Careerist. “Keep up your network and your CLE. You can’t take five or 10 years off and expect to come back. Follow your heart, but be thoughtful about it.”

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