The Canadian Bar Association
ADR, Family

Maternity leave can hurt lawyers on the partner path

Getting ahead can be tough for lawyers who are also mothers, says Jennifer Samara Shuber, lawyer with Beard Winter LLP in a Lawyers Weekly article in which her firm was inaccurately identified.

The challenge becomes particularly difficult for women who take maternity leave, she says, especially if they are trying to make partner.

“When you come back, it’s not as easy to step right back in,” Samara Shuber says. “The partners say, ‘Who do I give work to, somebody who has been here for five years straight or somebody has been here for three years but was off for a year?’ It’s a fact of being out of the fray for that period of time.”

Women are entitled to take a year off from work after having a child. But at a law firm, male counterparts will continue on the partnership track, she says, while the woman on leave misses out on building relationships, mentoring and work opportunities.

Women who work in areas of what she calls “people law” – social welfare, wills and estates and family law, for example – are more likely to stay in private practice because they tend to have more flexible work structures.

“It’s not the same kind of practice as corporate law where you’re working 20-hour days and there’s a closing on Dec. 31 whether your kid is sick or not,” she tells Lawyers Weekly.

“There is more understanding and flexibility if you’re working in people areas to say, ‘My son is sick and I don’t have coverage. Can we reschedule our meeting for tomorrow?’ ”

To Read More Jennifer Samara Shuber Posts Click Here
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