Name: Katie S. Phang
Job Title: Partner, Berger Singerman, LLP
City: Miami, Florida
Number of Children/Other Dependents: 1 (15 month old daughter, Charlotte)
Do you think having “it all” is realistic or overrated? Why?
I think the phrase “having it all” is deceptive. Each person has a different definition of what provides them with personal and professional fulfillment. Those goals sometimes change on a daily basis.
What does having “it all” mean to you? To me, “having it all” means feeling like you’re able to give 100+% to the people and things that matter to you, without feeling imbalanced or guilty about how you devoted your time and energy.
What is the best advice you have ever received on balancing your personal and professional lives? Best advice I ever received was to be kinder and gentler to yourself. It is so easy to get caught up in comparing yourself to others and wondering why you can’t do it like them.
If you had an extra hour in your day, how would you spend it?
Spending it playing and reading with Charlotte (and catching up on sleep)
Looking back at when you started in the profession, and knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your younger self?
It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Pace yourself and always stay focused on who you are.
Do you deal with guilt in trying to balance your personal and professional lives? Yes, ALL of the time.
What single change do you believe would have the biggest impact on work life balance or quality of life?
I often wonder how much easier working mothers’ lives would be if there was quality child-care at every place of employment.
What part of “balance” do you struggle with?
As my daughter gets older and more aware of my comings and goings, I struggle with figuring out how to balance being there for her growth and development and when she needs and wants me, with still trying to maintain a competitive professional edge and remaining “relevant”.
What part of “balance” are you improving at?
Trying to be more forgiving of myself when the day gets away from me and I haven’t been able to get it all done.
As a working parent, how do you balance your career and your role as a parent?
I only get through the day as a working parent with the incredible help of my family, my husband, my supportive and understanding co-workers, and my friends. I literally could not do it on my own.
How important is civic and/or professional involvement to you and why?
It’s crucial to be as involved as possible. You meet incredible people, some of whom will mentor you and give you invaluable advice. By giving back through volunteering your time, you make the community at large a better place and you improve the quality of our legal community.
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?
Focus on achieving excellence in your craft and providing the best representation you can for your clients. Remember to try to devote your time to the things that are truly important to you, and not what you think will look good on your resume. Never forget to carve out time for your family and friends.
Any other parting words of advice?
Express gratitude on a daily basis for what you already have and be thankful and excited for the future and what it will bring.