On November 13, 2009, I was at a TYLA meeting in El Paso, when I received a shocking call from my legal assistant. She called to tell me that my good friend and colleague, Brad Newsome, had committed suicide. I could not believe it. Friendly, gregarious Brad who was loved by so many people in our county was gone.
Paid? Unpaid? 4 weeks? 12 weeks? 6 months? Will you be expected to do some work, or can you really just turn off your cell phone and ignore work email for your entire leave? Maternity leave policies can be as varied as the employers who offer them. No matter what your employer offers, actually taking maternity leave can be a challenge in and of itself. I have just completed my second maternity leave, and while each experience has been different, I hope that I can lend some insight to those of you preparing for leaves of your own.
There are very few laws that most of our clients can cite, but FMLA is one of them. Even if most people don’t know the details, they are typically well-aware that FMLA generally provides for medical leave from a job. Unfortunately, FMLA does not provide the sweeping coverage and benefits that the general public expects. With regard to FMLA, the “devil is in the details”, which is why most people, in my experience, are disappointed and even resentful when they discover that an employer is not subject to FMLA regulations or that their employer is not required to provide paid medical leave.
As for me, I'm a cardigan girl, which works well with my firm's flexible (read: nonexistent) dress code, but on occasion, when I want to mix things up, I wear a cazer (cape + blazer). This combo is trending for fall thanks to fashion geniuses Hedi Slimane, Josep Font and Macs Iotti, creative directors of Saint Laurent, Delpozo and Sportmax respectively, and The Devil Wears Prada cerulean blue trickle down effect.
I am a family lawyer. Within the first twenty minutes of an initial conversation with a client, he has usually discussed more intimate details with the complete stranger across the table from him than he has discussed with his own spouse during their entire marriage. This new client believes his attorney is supposed to give guidance on how to “handle” this tumultuous and uncertain time in his life. His attorney is supposed to help him answer all of the questions, including how to respond to the late night text message that he is certain was sent to create a new problem in his already troubled communication with his wife. But if I do a poor job of establishing effective boundaries at the outset of the lawyer-client relationship then I quickly become the one getting late night texts from a troubled client asking questions about how this latest voicemail will affect him in Court. If I do a poor job of establishing effective boundaries at the outset of the lawyer-client relationship then I quickly become the one getting late night texts from a troubled client asking questions about how this latest voicemail will affect him in Court.
I attended a women’s event recently—just another luncheon for a good cause, but I made an incredible observation. The women who were most engaged in talking about their various charities and all of the non-profit work they managed to fit into their very busy professional lives, were women of the Baby Boomer generation. Either they had no children to begin with, or their children were away at college or had moved on to their own adult lives. Conversely, one young mother of two—or was it one mother of two young children?—noted that she simply did not have time to volunteer for non-profits; she would rather spend her precious “free” time with her children. To be sure, the “Gen X” or “Gen Y” discussion was quite different from that of my Baby Boomer peers.