Leaving Clifford Chance: A Mother’s Departure Email

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By Alex Aldridge on

The email reproduced below, by a female associate departing from Clifford Chance’s Washington DC office, was leaked to US blog Above the Law yesterday…


A day in the life of Ms. X (and many others here, I presume):

4:00am: Hear baby screaming, hope I am dreaming, realize I’m not, sleep walk to nursery, give her a pacifier and put her back to sleep

4:45am: Finally get back to bed

5:30am: Alarm goes off, hit snooze

6:00am: See the shadow of a small person standing at my bedroom door, realize it is my son who has wet the bed (time to change the sheets)

6:15am: Hear baby screaming, make a bottle, turn on another excruciating episode of Backyardigans, feed baby

7:00am: Find some clean clothes for the kids, get them dressed

7:30am: Realize that I am still in my pajamas and haven’t showered, so pull hair back in a ponytail and throw on a suit

8:00am: Pile into the car, drive the kids to daycare

8:15am: TRAFFIC

9:00am: finally arrive at daycare, baby spits up on suit, get kids to their classrooms, realize I have a conference call in 15 minutes

9:20am: Run into my office, dial-in to conference call 5 minutes late and realize that no one would have known whether or not I was on the call, but take notes anyway

9:30am: Get an email that my time is late, Again! Enter my time

10:00am: Team meeting; leave with a 50-item to-do list

11:00am: Attempt to prioritize to-do list and start tasks; start an email delegating a portion of the tasks (then, remember there is no one under me)

2:00pm: Realize I forgot to eat lunch, so go to the 9th floor kitchen to score some leftovers

2:30pm: Get a frantic email from a client needing an answer to a question by COB today

2:45pm: postpone work on task number 2 of 50 from to-do list and attempt to draft a response to client’s question

4:30pm: send draft response to Senior Associate and Partner for review

5:00pm: receive conflicting comments from Senior Associate and Partner (one in new version and one in track changes); attempt to reconcile; send redline

5:30pm: wait for approval to send response to client; realize that I am going to be late picking up the kids from daycare ($5 for each minute late)

5:50pm: get approval; quickly send response to client

6:00pm: race to daycare to get the kids (they are the last two there)

6:30pm: TRAFFIC with a side of screaming kids who are starving

7:15pm: Finally arrive home, throw chicken nuggets in the microwave, feed the family

7:45pm: Negotiate with husband over who will do bathtime and bedtime routine; lose

8:00pm: Bath, pajamas, books, bed

9:00pm: Kids are finally asleep, check blackberry and have 25 unread messages

9:15pm: Make a cup of coffee and open laptop; login to Citrix

9:45pm: Citrix finally loads; start task number 2

11:30pm: Wake up and realize I fell asleep at my desk; make more coffee; get through task number 3

1:00am: Jump in the shower (lord knows I won’t have time in the morning)

1:30am: Finally go to bed


Needless to say, I have not been able to simultaneously meet the demands of career and family, so have chosen to leave private practice, and the practice of law (at least for now). I truly admire all of you that have been able to juggle your career and family and do not envy what a challenge it is trying to do each well. I appreciate those of you who have been incredibly understanding of my family obligations over the past few years, and especially the last several months. I have learned so much from so many of you and hope to keep in touch for years to come (a special thank you to A, W, G and D). Please call or email anytime – my personal contact information is listed below.

‘Departure Memo of the Day: Parenting Gets The Best Of One Biglaw Associate’ [Above the Law]