The Bar Exam’s Motherhood Penalty Is A Barrier To Entry For The Legal Profession
I’ve missed so many firsts of my daughter because I was studying for this exam….
I’ve missed so many firsts of my daughter because I was studying for this exam. … She started walking in early June, and I missed it. Studying for this exam literally makes me feel like a bad mother.
— Estefania Parra Simmons, a recent law school graduate, commenting on her parental woes while trying to study for the bar exam, during an interview with BuzzFeed News focusing on the demoralizing treatment those who are pregnant or breastfeeding face when trying to take the bar exam. “It sounds hyperbolic, but it’s basically saying to someone, ‘You can either be a mom or you can be a lawyer — which one do you choose? You can either take this bar exam, or you can feed your baby — which one do you want to do?’ And which one do you think most people are going to do?” Michelle Browning Coughlin, the founder of MothersEsquire told BuzzFeed. Parra has twice been denied accommodations for the bar exam, first for pregnancy and now for pumping breaks. If she doesn’t pass, she says she will not take the exam again in February 2023.
Staci Zaretsky is a senior editor at Above the Law, where she’s worked since 2011. She’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to email her with any tips, questions, comments, or critiques. You can follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.