Hello, Denver MAMA: New Mentoring Group for Mother Attorneys
by Catherine O. Brown
It is difficult when these two aspects of your life — the demands of your work and clients and the demands of your family — intersect and, sometimes, collide.
I can’t help in these instances but think of the Beatles; you really do get by with a little help from your friends. With this notion in mind, several women lawyers established a dynamic new group for those women who practice law and are parents: Denver MAMA.
MAMA, shorthand for Mother Attorneys Mentoring Association, offers a supportive environment for mothers who are lawyers or law students. Group members share experiences and ideas, problem solve, and give feedback on issues relevant to them in both of their roles. The network also shares information on employment opportunities and business referrals. In essence, Denver MAMA is devoted to furthering the interests of mother attorneys.
MAMA originated in Seattle in 2006, and has expanded to several cities across the country, including Austin, San Diego, Sacramento, and Philadelphia. With support from MAMA Seattle, founding members Jenifer Ross-Amato, Jennifer Madsen, Christy Anderson, Catherine Brown, Kristen Carney, Angela Hahn, Laura Martinez, Sue O'Brien, Amanda Upson, and Julie Warren launched the Denver chapter in spring 2012.
"I’ve had times when I thought, ‘I don’t know if I can be a lawyer and a mom — and still be happy.’ Denver MAMA is about supporting women who have made that choice to be both an attorney and a mom," said Denver MAMA co-founder Ross-Amato. "We’ve created this community where there are other mom attorneys available. Just by our existence, we let mom attorneys know they aren’t alone and that they are appreciated."
Since the chapter’s launch, Denver MAMA has taken off, boasting more than 100 members whose backgrounds range in terms of experience, practice areas, age of children, and geography. Women lawyers from across the spectrum of positions — full-time, part-time, contract, and non-practicing — are welcome to join. There are no membership dues and most events are free of charge.
The group hosts monthly coffee meetings and brown bag lunches in Denver that address topics such as satisfaction in your job, choosing the best school for your child, and nutrition for children, among others. Although the monthly lunches are hosted downtown, other events occur throughout the metro area.
The best thing about Denver MAMA? Kids are welcome at all events and events are planned around mothers’ busy schedules. The group also hosts weekend events with kids — past events have included a hike, a picnic, museum visits, portrait-taking, community service, and martial arts.
Part of the impetus to launch the Denver MAMA chapter arose from a conversation between founding members Ross-Amato and Madsen about the need for more family-friendly networking opportunities for attorneys raising children, and this is an important piece of Denver MAMA’s mission. At the group’s kickoff event in September, I was in a room with more than 25 attorneys and holding a baby at the same time — definitely a first in my 12-year career. This was the kind of event I, and many others, had been looking for.
My daughter is now 11 and I no longer work from home, so I don’t have to worry about conducting anymore calls from a closet. But, right now it’s also science project frenzy time, so I still face issues and worries that straddle my attention and devotion across the work and home fronts. I am truly grateful for this group that can support both my personal and professional endeavors and allow me to laugh and cry with others along the way. D
Catherine O. Brown is a sole practitioner in Denver and Louisville, specializing in immigration law. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.