Name: Jamie Billote Moses
Job Title: Shareholder, Fisher, Rushmer, P.A.; Board Certified Appellate Attorney
City: Orlando, Florida
Number of Children/Other Dependents: 2
Do you think having “it all” is realistic or overrated? Why?
This is a really tough question to answer because everyone’s definition of “having it all” is different. The societal definition of “having it all” is not worth it in my opinion because what society has defined as the pinnacle of success with self, family or profession is not how I define it. Nevertheless, I do feel I “have it all” because I have a career I love, a family that I cherish and a wonderful group of friends and colleagues with whom I share this life. Do I make astronomical amounts of money? No. Do I want to? No. Do I live in an overpriced house that is extremely beautiful yet expensive to maintain? No. Do I have a comfortable home that is filled with love? Yes.
What is the best advice you have ever received on balancing your personal and professional lives?
I do not know if I ever received this advice, but this is a conclusion I drew myself after my first few years as a working mother. Often times, working mothers think they need to shy away from taking on the responsibilities with their children’s’ classes, school or sports teams. Often I will hear “I will leave that to the stay at home moms.” Nevertheless, there could not be a worse thing to do. I always took the lead in those responsibilities because it allowed me to plan and coordinate all of the events involved in my children’s’ education and athletic endeavors without them interfering with my professional commitments. Once I became the homeroom mother, all of the classroom events were on my calendar and scheduled far enough in advance that I never had to miss them. Nevertheless, when I left them to others to plan and schedule, I would often receive notice too close to the event and when my calendar had already been filled with a client meeting, hearing or deposition. Working mothers should never shy away from those responsibilities or leave them for the stay at home moms.
If you had an extra hour in your day, how would you spend it?
If I had an extra hour in my day, I would probably spend it taking care of myself. Most working mothers will admit the last thing that gets taken care of is them. I would probably use that extra hour to make sure I flossed, moisturized, meditated, read, planned out my week’s meals, etc.
Looking back at when you started in the profession, and knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your younger self?
Every choice you make in the beginning of your career will have an effect on your career later. I decided after my first child to go part-time. Although, part-time was a relative term. I probably billed 1800 hours a year. Nevertheless, it has affected my career ever since that time. Although I am an equity partner in my firm and I have been able to come back full-time and pursue all of my professional aspirations, the choice to go part-time, when my first child was born, has affected me professionally and cannot be undone even 12 years later. I do not regret having that time with my children when they were very young, but now that they are in high school and about to go to college, the tangible effects of that decision still linger.
How do you deal with guilt in trying to balance your personal and professional lives?
This is a tough one. The guilt associated with being a working mother is tremendous. You often feel like you are letting your employer down while at the same time feeling like you are letting your children and spouse down. It is inevitable. Sometimes I would cry, but most of the time I would just get some time alone, if at all possible, and think about my emotions. Once you step back and try to take an objective view of what is going on in your life, you will inevitably realize there is no reason to feel guilty. You are a better person than you give yourself credit for and you are doing the best you can do.
What single change do you believe would have the biggest impact on work life balance or quality of life?
I really think technology has the biggest impact on work life balance or quality of life. Being able to get your work done remotely and under conditions not as traditional as sitting in an office for 8 to 10 hours a day are what will make it easier for all practitioners, male or female. Being able to get the work done while still being able to be home with a child, or care for an aging parent, or attend a child’s event (which is inevitably in the middle of day), and have the technology to respond to that email or research that motion is what will make work life actually balance.
What part of “balance” do you struggle with?
I don’t necessarily struggle with work versus personal. I believe I have a healthy balance of the two. What I struggle with is the need to attend or attend to everything in my work life and in my personal life. Feeling that I need to be at every professional function or every personal function is where I struggle. Accepting that I cannot be at everything, and really do not need to be at everything, is the struggle for me.
What part of “balance” are you improving at?
I have made a concerted effort to make sure that I get enough sleep. I have traditionally functioned on 5 hours of sleep. I know that that is not healthy for me. Thus, what I am working on, and improving, is not bringing so much home at night and insisting on not addressing tasks at home when I really should be going to bed. I am presently regularly getting 7 hours of sleep a night and that has made a tremendous difference in my professional and personal life.
As a working parent, how do you balance your career and your role as a parent?
I am very honest with my children and share with them my professional commitments so they understand what might be stressing me or what might require me to attend. My children are older which helps, but they understand sometimes mom has responsibilities that might mean I am showing up half an hour late to their sporting event or I cannot run to Target that night to pick up something they want. Also, I have always included my children in my profession. If I travel for retreats, lengthy seminars or bar service, I have included my children to the best of my ability. As they age, it gets harder because they have responsibilities with school and jobs, etc., but I always included them so that they could enjoy those experiences with me.
How important is civic and/or professional involvement to you and why?
This is incredibly important to me. As the current President of the Orange County Bar Association, I obviously believe bar service is critical. The only way we can ensure the integrity of this profession is to be a part of its leadership. I also believe it creates comradery amongst the practitioners and, therefore, better relations in litigation. Further, as an appellate practitioner, my “audience” is trial attorneys and, therefore, regular interaction with attorneys is good for me professionally.
What’s the advice you would give a young lawyer seeking to strike a “balance” between family, self, and the practice of law or achieve better quality of life?
I think the most important thing is to realize the practice of law ebbs and flows. There will be times when you are overwhelming busy. There will be times when you are not. Additionally, this is a profession that one sought to obtain after four years of college, three years of law school and a grueling bar exam. Why wouldn’t it be difficult and challenging? Why is it so surprising to people that this is a tough job? Once someone appreciates the responsibility it is to be an attorney and recognizes that it is a profession and not just a job, then it is easier to appreciate the difficulties related thereto. Nevertheless, there are times when the job is not overwhelmingly time consuming and becomes manageable, and that is when you realize there can be “balance” in this profession. The suggestion, however, that this profession should not be difficult, stressful or time consuming is absurd. It is a privilege to be an attorney and with privilege comes responsibility.