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Navigating the Challenges and Rewards of First-Time Fatherhood: A Check-In with Insights from the First-Time Father Fellows

Three of our Business Law Section Fellows became fathers within the past year. In fact, they each had their first child within a month of each other. To see how it is going, we asked them to write about the changes they have experienced and the lessons they have learned through the journey of fatherhood.


Zachery R. Needell, Esq.:

I am a proud father to a ten-month-old son and my wife and I are expecting another boy in October. Besides being a father and husband, I am also a litigation associate in Greenberg Traurig’s Fort Lauderdale office. Juggling family and professional responsibilities is nothing unique to me or the legal profession at large. But, by effectively using a hybrid work model, I have found a way to balance my responsibilities as a father and a litigation associate at a major global law firm.

I try to get into the office early, usually by around 7:30 am, so I can get home to spend quality time with my son and have dinner with my wife more frequently. Then, I log back on in the evening and address any pending deadlines or unfinished work. I could not be more thankful that Greenberg Traurig, and specifically the leadership in the Fort Lauderdale office, gives us the flexibility to manage our responsibilities both as associates and parents.

Hybrid work isn’t without challenges. Sometimes, I find that being connected from home to the office makes it challenging to provide my family with my undivided attention. Other times, it means that family time can be interrupted by work. But on the whole, new parents like myself should be incredibly thankful for the digital tools and technology that allow us to be great parents and professionals at the same time.



Tyler B. Stall, Esq.:

I am a partner in Hutton, Dominko, Swaim & Stall, PLLC, a small firm in Sarasota, Florida. Last July, my wife and I became the proud parents of our daughter, Sabrina. Sabrina is 11 months old, and I am waiting for her to start walking any day now, unless she just starts running like she seems to want to do. As a partner at a small firm, the demands of balancing a legal career with the responsibilities of fatherhood can be both rewarding and challenging. For many of us, the journey into parenthood is a transformative experience that brings unparalleled joy and fulfillment, yet it also requires adaptability and time management skills to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Time management is arguably one of the most important concepts and traits in our profession, and it can also be one of the most challenging parts of the job. Having a child introduces a new variable to that formula in trying to find time outside of work to spend time with your child while meeting work obligations. I use to accept working late at the office as a necessary evil/obligation that comes with the job. Now, I make sure that I arrange my schedule and priorities so that I can leave the office early enough to be at home before my daughter’s ever-subject-to-change bedtime. It means waking up and coming in earlier than I used to, but the rewards are worth it.

People, social media, and entertainment always talk about this powerful and unconditional bond between parents and their children. I have always believed in it despite knowing that it is one of those experiences you can’t really understand before you go through it. I can attest that once you see your child smile at you, that feeling becomes real and it is exhilarating. I would trade nothing for that feeling. It is an oft-repeated platitude, but it doesn’t make it any less true.



Juan J. Mendoza, Esq.:

My wife and I welcomed our baby, Ava, in July 2023. Upon returning to the office after my paternity leave, I quickly realized the challenge of balancing the demands of working as an attorney, with being present for my family. I often felt the pressure of having more work to do, yet I also wanted to be there for my family. There is no better feeling than witnessing my baby’s milestones, like sitting up, learning how to crawl, and saying her first words. But, how could I do both?

For me, organization has been the key to achieving this balance. Planning my day and my week allows me to determine and prioritize my tasks and projects. This approach helps me avoid wasting time on tasks that I can either delegate or defer, allowing me to focus on the more important projects. While it is not possible to plan for everything, I also block off some time for unexpected surprises.

Another change that I implemented was shifting my schedule to spend more time with my family. I leave work at the same time to grab dinner with my wife and spend time with my baby before she goes to bed. If I have work that still needs to get done, I log in later at night to complete it. Additionally, my firm offers flexible work arrangements, such as the option to work remotely or adjust office hours, when necessary, which has been invaluable, especially for appointments like pediatrician visits.

A strong support system, both at home and at work, is invaluable in navigating the challenges of balancing work and family life. I am fortunate to have a supporting family and colleagues who have offered their insight and assistance.

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