Making family a priority

Coach Gwitt with his daughter's basketball team.

A big family poses its own challenges, but Gwitt says the culture of the legal profession has become much more supportive of the balance between work and family life.

Brian Gwitt ’98 sees it at work at Woods Oviatt Gilman LLP, where he is a partner: new associates from other law schools struggling with student loan debt that’s well over $100,000. That limits their options, he says: “You have to take a job at a private firm, because how else are you going to afford your debt payments and move yourself ahead?”

That’s typically not the case for University at Buffalo law graduates, points out Gwitt, who serves as president of the UB Law Alumni Association – because they enter the job market bearing a much smaller debt load, they’re free to follow their passion wherever it takes them and build a life outside of their law firm.

Gwitt is married to fellow UB School of Law alumna Bridget E. Niland ’98, director of athletics for Daemen College, and they have five busy children. A big family poses its own challenges, but Gwitt says the culture of the legal profession has become much more supportive of the balance between work and family life, for fathers as well as mothers.

“Every day is its own struggle, but we have a true team effort and somehow we get it done,” he says. “All law firms are focusing more on work-life balance. They’re much more accepting of your need to, say, leave the office at 5:30, especially because technology makes it possible to work remotely. It’s important for us to have dinner as a family, then, when the kids are asleep or doing homework, often I’ll log in and do a little more work.

“In my experience, if you’re doing a good job and your hours are there, no one will give you a hard time.”