Name: Michelle R. Suskauer
Job Title: Managing Partner, Suskauer Law Firm, P.A.
City: West Palm Beach, Florida
Number of Children/Other Dependents: 2 daughters: Talia (19) Sophomore Musical Theater Major at Penn State, Becca (17) Junior at Dreyfoos School of the Arts.
Do you think having “it all” is realistic or overrated? Why?
The Phrase “Having it All” is different for each person. I think the problem is making comparisons as to what you think having it “all” means. I think that it is realistic if you are able to define what it means for yourself.
What does that even mean? Can it ever be achieved? Impossible standard. Everyone’s “all” means something different to them. Do women ever look in the mirror and say “Gosh – I wish “I had it all?” We do the best we can and we are happy when we don’t completely fall apart at the end of the day. When we have personal satisfaction in different areas of our lives. When we have health, happiness, friends and family – that’s “having it all”.
What is the best advice you have ever received on balancing your personal and professional lives?
Do the best you can but give up on the idea of perfection. It does not exist.
If you had an extra hour in your day, how would you spend it?
Uninterrupted time talking with my husband and girls.
Looking back at when you started in the profession, and knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t take yourself too seriously. Listen as much as possible.
Do you deal with guilt in trying to balance your personal and professional lives?
Feeling guilt is unavoidable but incredibly destructive. Realize you are doing the best you can if you start feeling guilty.
What single change do you believe would have the biggest impact on work life balance or quality of life?
Actually scheduling “me” time during the week. Even if it is just to take a walk, work out, lunch or a drink with friends. When you feel you have no time for yourself, you descend into resentment.
What part of “balance” do you struggle with?
Trying to get it all done.
What part of “balance” are you improving at?
Organizing – that for me is a key. When you look at a huge list of what needs to get accomplished you may feel overwhelmed; make realistic goals of completing tasks.
As a working parent, how do you balance your career and your role as a parent?
Organization is key. Make sure you place everything on your calendar. My calendar is filled with color coded events: kids, work and Bar.
How important is civic and/or professional involvement to you and why?
Becoming involved in legal and community involvement is part of who I am as a person and as a professional. I was so fortunate to have mentors who guided me in my community. As a young lawyer I was guided to join certain voluntary Bar organizations. I couldn’t imagine practicing law and not giving back to my community. I feel we all have an obligation to be involved, we cannot simply walk from our office to the courthouse and back, we have to stop in-between and connect
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?
Don’t allow yourself to get overwhelmed. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Bounce ideas off of other professional women. Always take time for yourself. If you don’t, it will hurt your focus. Don’t lose you. Be able to walk away and regroup.
Any other parting words of advice?
Realize how important the relationships are in your life. Cherish them.