More Thoughts on Pregnancy and Work

Telling Your Boss

My office is a small, boutique operation, with my boss “Bossman” being the partner, and me being his right hand man… er, woman. Thus, I knew there was no way I could abide by the 3-month pregnancy announcement rule at work, even if I wanted to follow such a rule. That would just throw everyone into a panic, which is not very considerate.

Taking off months from work is already really hard on a small office, so I was not about to add to the burden by cutting short potential preparation time for everyone else. Anyway, we happened to have a meeting because we needed to hire an additional attorney, and Bossman was weighing the pros and cons of hiring a newb versus a more experienced attorney. I was not quite going to tell at this point (I think I was only like 7 weeks pregnant!) but I was aware knowing I’d be gone for 2+ months beginning in September would drastically impact his decision-making as to whom to hire, so I spilled the beans during this meeting. We ended up hiring a more seasoned attorney and it was the right thing to do.

Keeping it Under Wraps For Others

There was only a handful of people to inform at my office, and I genuinely like everyone there, so that is not an issue at all (I share all my ultrasound pictures and updates with them too). However, I am keeping it on the down low for as long as I can manage, as far as encountering others in the context of work. I am wearing boxier shirts to court and depositions, and will likely do this as long as I can get away with it.

It’s not that people are not supportive. I was at a deposition not 2 weeks ago, where 5 out of the 6 attorneys present were women, and the conversation turned to juggling work and children. I am so fortunate to be alive as a young female attorney today, as opposed to 2 decades ago, when this gender ratio and topic of conversation probably rarely occurred in the practice of law. In fact, the only male attorney there was the husband of one of the lady attorneys. They sat next to each other during deposition and during break told stories about their children; it was so very cute, and shows just how far society has progressed. In fact, I was the only person present without a child, and who had nothing to say about children. Even so, I did not feel comfortable sharing that I am pregnant. I don’t know why. Maybe I am shy; maybe I am weird. I have no logical explanation for it.

I will say one thing has crossed my mind in this regard: that my due date cold be construed as a weakness to my opposing counsel. I’ve met her but a handful of times. She recently became a grandmother and seems like a decent, warm lady. That being said, I have partaken in a conversation wherein one senior defense attorney indicated a trial continuance (“postponement,” in trial lawyer lingo) would not be favorable because, among other reasons, the main opposing attorney’s associate would be back from maternity leave by that time, and she was no one to fuck around with. I happened to be on the winning side of things that time, but I did not forget the implications. Now that I’m pregnant, some plaintiff’s counsel could equally be thinking, Hey, Bossman’s associate is going to be on maternity leave in September. That will be the time to slam them with discovery, or push for trial. Call me paranoid, but I think it’s a legitimate thing to be aware of.

Trial Scheduling/Planning Ahead

People tend to learn about the legal system from telly, which presents trials in short-form, leading people to literally think they get their “day in court,” which is quickly over and done in 24 hour or so. That’s not how litigation actually works. My easiest cases that get dismissed without settlement of any kind still take months to resolve. Courts try to set trial dates no longer than a year after the lawsuit was filed, but realistically, the trial date frequently gets moved beyond this time, and some bigger cases drag on for 2-3 years. If trial does end up occurring, it can take 2-3 weeks, and there is a lot of work to be done in the interim, so it can be a long and grueling process, like a war of attrition.

For this reason, my due date now has to be a big red flag on the office calendar, so we do not forget that I will not be around to do stuff at that time, and we will be one attorney down. Also, on the very unfortunate side of things, my boss was considering assigning a relatively straightforward case to try by myself so I could get the trial experience, but the trial as currently set falls right before my due date. Aiii. You really can’t have it all.

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