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Yale Professor Presents Scholarship to Students, Faculty

November 06, 2012

At the second presentation of the Student Bar Association Centennial Speaker Series, Yale Law School Professor Vicki Schultz spoke on ways to balance work and other commitments to have a meaningful life. The centennial speaker series features esteemed faculty from around the country speaking on legal issues ranging from criminal law to environmental justice.

Vicki Schultz

The visit by Schultz is part of the Centennial Faculty Scholarship Workshop Series.

Schultz, the Ford Foundation professor of law and social sciences, outlined different career models that are utilized by legal professionals to allow time for family or volunteer obligations, and the potential costs and benefits of each model.

“You can make choices but there are going to be costs and benefits to any choice you make,” Schultz said. “I think your generation is in a better position than those that came before to observe what those costs and benefits are and to make more informed choices.”

The pioneers—the first generation of women and people of color who entered the legal workforce—often sacrificed their intimate life in order to completely commit themselves to their careers, she said. Many women, including Schultz, have concentrated on work intensely early in their careers and had children later in their careers. While this model allows women to develop their careers, they face the possibility of infertility and have to evaluate the pros and cons of utilizing childcare.

Schultz said there are various models of couples focusing on work and family simultaneously from early in their careers. One model is to work full-time and then stop working for family obligations—whether caring for children, aging parents, or a sick partner—and then to start working again. Another model is for one person in a couple to work full-time and the other person to work part-time and prioritize other commitments.

“We can do it all but we may not be able to do it all at once. We may not be able to do it all ourselves,” Schultz said. “Nothing is easy but it can be joyful. Difficult things, challenges, can be done with a joyful attitude. And I think you have to remember, life is long, if you are lucky.”

The next presentations of the Student Bar Association Centennial Speaker Series will be on Wednesday, Nov. 7 in Kendrick Hall room 102. Berkeley Law lecturer Jim Brosnahan will present “What it’s Like to Represent the Despised” at noon and University of Texas School of Law Professor Gerald Torres will present “Justice is the DNA of Environmental Law” at 5 p.m.