Feature Stories Campus Events All Stories

Jon Philipson ’06 Encourages Dads to Lean Out

When Jon Philipson, a top-billing associate at the Carlton Fields law firm, decided to take paternity leave, his “friends questioned my sanity and told me I was committing career suicide,” he said in an essay published on the Motto website (Time Magazine). “One asked: ‘How do you go from law review editor in chief to tummy time connoisseur?’ “

Although it wasn’t an easy decision, the 2006 graduate of Washington and Lee University knew it was the correct one. He writes, “My decision was simple: ‘lean out.’ Is this a cute turn-of-phrase a take from Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg’s call to arms? Perhaps. But it is directed not to women, but to fathers to push for and to take paternity leave.”

Jon added, “Let’s be clear. Paternity leave is NOT vacation. To call it such is insulting to every stay-at-home parent. From when I woke up until I passed out, I was taking care of my family — from supporting my wife through breastfeeding struggles, to rocking my son asleep, to the black hole of sanitizing bottles. This was not a vacation; this was parenthood.”

He acknowledges that his young son probably won’t remember the bedtime stories he read to him or singing to him. “But my wife and I have now set a tone for how gender does not define familial roles in our household or society.”

If you know any W&L alumni who would be great profile subjects, tell us about them! Nominate them for a web profile.