Jessica Livingston Discusses Shipkevich PLLC’s Flexibility & Family First Initiative

We sat down with Shipkevich PLLC’s Partner Jessica Livingston to discuss the secret behind how she finds time to read for leisure as a full-time attorney and single mother of two boys

Why did you choose to work at this firm?

What initially attracted me to this firm was the Flexibility & Family First Initiative, or “FFFI” as we call it. Although, I jokingly refer to it as the Felix Felix Felix Initiative, because the firm’s owner and principal, Felix Shipkevich, is really the mastermind behind it all. He has created a magnet firm, which attracts experienced attorneys from all backgrounds, who want and, in my case, need, the unprecedented flexibility that is offered by this firm. In a nutshell, these are the main reasons I chose to bring my talent here. I dared to flourish outside of the “8:00am – 6:00pm plus weekends” burnout culture that so many other firms have romanticized. I didn’t buy the burnout culture. I’m not buying the rigid scheduling structure that the burnout culture relies upon. Case in point.

How do you find the time to read, as a full-time working attorney and Partner of the firm?

At this firm, the working hours and environment are flexible, to say the least. We put family first and foremost, not just in words, but in our actions. Like we actually put to action our trending Flexibility & Family First Initiative, or “FFFI” as we call it. When I first came on board, I was sat down and asked what my typical workday would look like. I was taken aback, in a good way, when I was actually listened to. As a single mother, my typical workday looks like starting after I drop my kids off at school. I currently pick my kids up from school as well, so I take breaks for those times. When there is work to do, I pick back up after my kids go down for the night. The flexibility, and lack of commute (since I chose to work from home), free up my time to be spent doing the things that make life enjoyable. Striking the right work-life balance is still a process, and, of course, not every day is a walk in the park. Some days I have to put in extra hours to meet a project deadline or send out a few necessary emails. But with the FFFI in place, it makes striking the right balance, in my life, that much easier. 

Do you prefer to read non-fiction or fiction?

Definitely non-fiction. I am sort of a nerd when it comes to reading. I am very “fictionally deprived” as an undergrad professor once said. I lean heavily towards success-oriented “how to” books as well as parenting guides. That said, I do love a good novel now and again.

What is the most recent fiction book you have read?

I just recently finished reading Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan. The historical fiction debut novel actually captures the true story of an Italian soldier during WWII, and his unbelievable journey from boyhood into manhood during the midst of the war under the Nazi Regime. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a good coming-of-age epic-type of drama. That said, be warned: this book will make you cry, laugh, and cringe, but ultimately, you’ll be left wanting more.

What would you recommend to other single-parent attorneys in your community who are looking strike a work-life balance?

Find an employer with the same values as you, and don’t compromise. If that means having a difficult conversation with your current employer, then that may be the solution for you. However, it may mean making a difficult decision, to relocate your talent where you – and your values—are better appreciated. You have to make that decision for yourself. And this firm isn’t for everyone. Some attorneys thrive in a suit-and-tie, 8:00 am – 6:00 p.m., brick and mortar office environment, and they actually look forward to the commute time to and from work. However, if you are like me, and have been dying to break free from the mold, to make your own hours, and rid yourself of the time and expense of a commute to a physical building, then this firm might be a great fit for you—especially if you are already ready to work from home and already value a friendly, flexible day-to-day “family first” type of working environment, which we have all but branded ourselves with here at Shipkevich.

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