Last year, one of our senior lawyers returned after a year of maternity leave. She returned working part time, three days a week. As most of us Big Firm lawyers are aware, “part time” is a misnomer that does not really exist, which means she regularly finds herself working on her days off. The advantage for her is that her budgets are set based on a three-day workweek. So, with a bit of ‘overhang’ work on her non-work days (which she does usually from home), she is now easily able to make and exceed her budget without really raising much of a sweat.
About four months out from the end of financial year, this senior lawyer began the process of applying for a promotion to Senior Associate. As we were in the throes of a global financial crisis, everyone’s budgets had taken a hammering, and as a result, she looked like a shining star compared to the rest of us.
After the arduous months of report writing and interviews with senior partners and corporate managers, she was the recipient of one of only eight nationwide promotions last year.
However, one day after her promotion (and pay raise) was confirmed by the firm, she announced that she was 28-weeks pregnant. In other words, she knew she was pregnant the whole time she went through the process and stayed silent, knowing that a few short months after her promotion she would again be taking another year off.
She is due to come back in a few months and is currently trying to get her three-day-a-week schedule reduced down to two. She is a excellent example of someone who has managed (somehow) to twist the firm’s (overly generous) maternity leave and promotion policy to her maximum advantage.
I am really pissed because of the simple fact that she would not have been promoted if she had been working fulltime. And she certainly would not have been promoted if it were known that she was pregnant during the selection process last year.
The situation as it stands now affects me in several ways: First, I am the one who has had to pick up the slack for her during her maternity leave. Secondly, my hard work my own non-existent pay raise and bonus has effectively been paid to her while she sits at home. It further affects me because I am next in line for promotion in our team. Significant pressure has been placed on our team’s budget as a result of paying her out when she hasn’t been working. Despite the fact that I am performing well and easily making my budget, it is very unlikely I will be promoted this year as a result.
Basically, this is just a Bitter Rant. I am angry at her for concealing her pregnancy, and I am angry that she seems to be able to work the system well enough to maximize advantages for herself from the firm’s policies—even if it comes at the expense of other people in the office.
At the end of the day, I guess she has to be applauded for her cunningness and getting ‘one up’ on wily BigLaw, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be pissed. Screw her. Screw the firm.