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thebadwife

Balancing a legal career with pet ownership?

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I wasn't sure whether this should go here or in off-topic, but I am wondering how many people here own pets (and dogs in particular), and how they find it is balancing their legal careers with the needs of their fur family (play time, walks/runs, bathroom breaks etc.).

Are firms understanding of pet ownership? Are any firms pet-friendly? Is it delusional to want a dog while also being a lawyer (especially a young one just starting out)? Does it vary by practice area/firm size?

pun pro bono GIF by bjorn

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Some smaller firms have "office dogs". Usually these are the partner's dog. I wouldn't look for the chance to bring the pup to work until it's your own firm / office.

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My best friend is a partner at one of the regional Vancouver firms and has a high energy German shepherd. Although she works a lot, she manages it with dog walkers and being around on the weekend.

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You're not likely to find a firm environment that is dog friendly. Heck, many complain about firm environments not even being accommodating to people with human children. 

I know a few solo or small office practitioners who literally bring their dogs to work though. If you want a dog to lick your toes while you work on a file you will probably want to go solo. 

Edited by BringBackCrunchBerries
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A multi-office firm in my home region (about 5-10 lawyers) has a policy where all staff can bring their dogs to the office. Mind you the partner has four dogs I think.

 

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Junior at a small firm here - I bring my puppy and one of the partners brings their dog into the office all the time. I made sure I asked everyone if it would be ok if he came into the office before I got him. Without that flexibility, combined with WFH, I probably wouldn't have gotten a dog at this point.

Keep in mind different breeds have different energy and exercise needs. That being said, puppies are, across the board, fucking exhausting, mostly because of the attention resources you have to give them for training and making sure they don't eat something that will kill them.

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9 minutes ago, flyingfish said:

A multi-office firm in my home region (about 5-10 lawyers) has a policy where all staff can bring their dogs to the office. Mind you the partner has four dogs I think.

 

Name so I can apply?

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1 minute ago, BertyBewp said:

That being said, puppies are, across the board, fucking exhausting, mostly because of the attention resources you have to give them for training and making sure they don't eat something that will kill them.

Sounds like a toddler too to be honest 😉

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We had a dog, through law school and 8+ years of practice, til losing our pup last year. Lots of lawyers have pets, but don't expect that you'll find a firm where you can bring the dog to work. Those are anomalies in the big picture. There are considerations around allergies, etc. and policies in place at many firms even for wearing scents of any type. In addition to firm policies, many buildings do not allow animals, other than service dogs to enter.

What you have to consider is how much time you are likely to have available for a dog. Dogs shouldn't be left for long periods of time on their own. So, you will need a good and reliable dogwalker but even at that, if you're gone from your house for 10+ hours a day, you should think twice about getting a dog and also understand that you are likely making a ~15 year commitment. 

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My dog is nearly 2 years old. I was granted pupternity leave (asked for 1 week off, given 2) when we picked up our baby from our breeder. On my return, I was welcomed with a smiling photo of my spouse, my pup and I front and centre in our waiting room and framed photo in my office. There are family friendly firms out there that also recognize families come in different shapes and sizes! 

I've had zero issues leaving work by a certain time to make sure to walk the puppy if my spouse was running late. It helps my assistant is in love with my dog. I did initially feel guilty leaving at 430 some days to go walk my dog (commuting was long) but we also cover other lawyers/admin when they have family events. 

I was lucky that family live nearby and used to let our pooch out of her crate in the middle of the day for a walk, love and some attention. We were also lucky to find a great dog walker to take over from family. It is very doable if you can afford a dog walker (much cheaper than daycare!) or have family members that can help out at lunch. 

It's really important to get that dog on a routine. We also timed it that we had a puppy during the summer to really hone in potty training.

 WFH right now makes it a helluva lot easier. And well, I've been working from home since last March so my dog is spoiled AF. 

Dogs are great. Mine is currently passed out in the hallway between my office and my spouse's. 

 

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If you asked for "pupternity" leave at my firm you would be mocked, and if you insisted on it you'd be fired and blackballed.

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I've known a couple sole practitioners who bring their dogs in routinely, but that's about it. At my old firm, one of the partners occasionally did this and a number of people, especially staff, had problems with it but didn't feel like they could say anything. I didn't mind but would've been disgusted if I saw any cats in the hallway.

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Most of my friends that have pets ended up hiring a dog walker. WFH obviously has made things easier but that's not going to last forever. 

I think anyone contemplating a pet really needs to pick one that fits their lifestyle instead of expecting an animal to adjust to theirs. 

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I work at a mid-sized boutique firm in TO. I would say 70% of the associates and 50% of the partners have 1 or more dogs. When I do zoom hearings a dog makes their presence known at least 7 times out of 10. 

The only time anyone has ever brought their dog to the office was to pick up something from the office - in and out. 

I think it is very normal for lawyers to have dogs. I personally got my dog in law school so he is more independent now then he was when we first got him. I am also part of a two dog parent household and for us it would not be possible (read: fair to the dog) to be sole caregivers. I think that when you have a schedule where there is a possibility for long days at the office, you need some form of backup for looking after the dog. 

At some firms face time truly does not matter, so leaving work at 5 to let the dog out and working from home for the evening would not be frowned up. But if you work in an office where face time matters you might get stuck between resenting your firm for making you feel pressured to stay in the evenings and simultaneously resenting your dog for making you feel pressured to leave at 5. 

 

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I'm at a smaller firm so forgive my ignorance but, don't you all get to make your owns schedules as long as you bill enough? I pretty much come and go as I please, but I also do what I need to do to get my jobs done and so an hour in the middle of the day usually means an extra hour or two at the end of my workday. I know a few folks who simply head home on their lunch break to let their dog out, walk it, play with it, etc.

One of the lawyers at my firm brings their dog to work daily, granted they are at a satellite office with a staff of 3, but still. Never heard a single complaint from clients and in fact the opposite: people love the dog!

I don't know your situation but the answer to your question really does depend on which firm you are at. Cats make great pets though, and lizards are incredibly low maintenance and pretty cool to have around.

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I got my pup in my second year of law school. During my last year of school I had time to spend with him, train him, etc. From my experience getting a puppy during articling would not be a good idea; you simply won't have enough time to spend with it, ensure proper socialization, etc. When I started articling I put my pup in doggy daycare 3 days a week and tried to leave from the office at a reasonable time on the other two days. That worked out pretty ok, but daycare is expensive so you would need to consider that if you think you might go that route. 2/3s of the way through articling I ending up working from home. A year later I'm still at home and very happy to have my pup as my office mate (though he loves to start barking every time I get on a call). My dog is a low energy fellow that is happy with one walk a day (or none on days like today when it's -20); however I have friends with high energy dogs (border collies, aussie shepherds) that seem to do just fine as well (though they will probably be out walking today notwithstanding the tundra conditions). 

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This is where cats shine: I can leave my kitty alone for a day and he truly acts like he didn't miss me.

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