Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Set-Up

My biglaw firm has a formal policy that allows women to return from maternity leave on a part-time schedule. Because I do not want to disclose which biglaw firm I work for, I do not want to give too many details about the policy. Suffice it to say that I am supposed to be able to set my own schedule for a set period of time and I am not supposed to be penalized, for advancement purposes, by using the policy. Right.

A month before I returned from my maternity leave, I sent an e-mail to the leader of my practice department. In line with the policy, I requested to return to work part-time. I didn't come up with my proposed schedule out of thin air. It is actually one of the suggested schedules in our attorney manual.

In response to my proposal, I received an email saying that we needed to discuss "this." The partner was NOT receptive. at. all. My favorite part of the conversation eWas when he said that the firm was "trying to be family friendly, but he was concerned that I was setting a bad precedent." Whuh?! He concluded the conversation with the not-so-subtle threat that if I returned part-time, I would be relegated to document review and research projects (I am a mid-level, almost senior associate).

After the call, I wish I could say that I was surprised, that I was blind-sided by his demeanor and the way he was handling the issue. I was not surprised. I was angry and pissed as hell, but not surprised. I talked with other associated who had returned from maternity leave part time, and they had received the same reception.

For the last few months, I have not heard a word from the partner, until yesterday. He called. He asked if I had time. I told him what I was working on. His response: so you're not that busy. He had a project. A non-billable research project.

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