When should I tell my firm of pregnancy?

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Leo
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When should I tell my firm of pregnancy?

Postby Leo » Thu Oct 12, 2017 8:05 am

First-year associate in biglaw here. As title suggests, when should I tell my firm that my wife and I are expecting? Too early and I’ll be known as the guy who showed up and immediately asked for paternity leave, right? Too late and the firm will feel blindsided. Due date is about six months after my start date. Thanks for advice.

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Re: When should I tell my firm of pregnancy?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Oct 12, 2017 9:18 am

This is a very tough and awkward situation. Try and get a couple of your firms policies or employment handbook and see what is provided for maternity leave for a father.

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Leo
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Re: When should I tell my firm of pregnancy?

Postby Leo » Thu Oct 12, 2017 9:25 am

The firm gives eight weeks for paternity leave, though I don’t plan on using more than two or three weeks.

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Re: When should I tell my firm of pregnancy?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Oct 12, 2017 9:49 am

I have two friends who took paternity leave in their first year. They told the firm pretty quickly after the first trimester. I think you should do the same. No one really cared to be honest. But I'm not in a major market either.

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ggocat
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Re: When should I tell my firm of pregnancy?

Postby ggocat » Thu Oct 12, 2017 9:55 am

Do your supervisors have kids? Do you talk about non-work stuff with work people? Tell them whenever, sooner rather than later. No need to mention your desire for a few weeks paternity leave right now unless they ask. This is exciting news. Congratulations are in order.

If you're asking about the last possible time you need to have an awkward conversation with your dick supervisors, then maybe 2 months out is reasonable for a 2-week absence, depending on the matters you are staffed on.

Full disclosure: I was in gubment for my 3 kids, so not sure if the firm culture is so toxic the answer should be different.

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Re: When should I tell my firm of pregnancy?

Postby cavalier1138 » Thu Oct 12, 2017 10:09 am

Anonymous User wrote:This is a very tough and awkward situation. Try and get a couple of your firms policies or employment handbook and see what is provided for maternity leave for a father.


This guy seems like he knows what he's talking about.

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Nebby
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Re: When should I tell my firm of pregnancy?

Postby Nebby » Thu Oct 12, 2017 10:14 am

Anonymous User wrote:This is a very tough and awkward situation. Try and get a couple of your firms policies or employment handbook and see what is provided for maternity leave for a father.

Are you a 0L?

DougEvans789
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Re: When should I tell my firm of pregnancy?

Postby DougEvans789 » Thu Oct 12, 2017 10:21 am

If you don't plan to take more paternity time than is typical at your firm, is becoming a new dad really a big deal in big law? (No experience whatsoever; just surprised if so)

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: When should I tell my firm of pregnancy?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Thu Oct 12, 2017 10:24 am

Nebby wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:This is a very tough and awkward situation. Try and get a couple of your firms policies or employment handbook and see what is provided for maternity leave for a father.

Are you a 0L?

They’re not.

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MarkinKansasCity
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Re: When should I tell my firm of pregnancy?

Postby MarkinKansasCity » Thu Oct 12, 2017 10:37 am

Leo wrote:First-year associate in biglaw here. As title suggests, when should I tell my firm that my wife and I are expecting? Too early and I’ll be known as the guy who showed up and immediately asked for paternity leave, right? Too late and the firm will feel blindsided. Due date is about six months after my start date. Thanks for advice.


I'd say sooner is better. My wife had our first child four months after I started and I took two weeks. No one expects you to plan the birth of your children around your new job.

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Leo
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Re: When should I tell my firm of pregnancy?

Postby Leo » Thu Oct 12, 2017 10:52 am

Thanks for the advice, everyone! Sounds like it’s not a big deal, so long as I don’t go asking for a ton of time off. Also, almost all the partners I know have children, so they should understand.

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Re: When should I tell my firm of pregnancy?

Postby merde_happens » Thu Oct 12, 2017 11:06 am

I would ask someone that you trust at the firm who also has kids. I know at my particular office, neither the announcement nor "asking for a ton of time off" would be a big deal. We had quite a few men go on pat leave recently and all took the full amount of time off allowed under firm policy. But I know that expectations/culture in this area can vary across markets/firms/offices -- hence my first piece of advice.

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Re: When should I tell my firm of pregnancy?

Postby unlicensedpotato » Thu Oct 12, 2017 11:43 am

Leo wrote:The firm gives eight weeks for paternity leave, though I don’t plan on using more than two or three weeks.


Depending on lots of specifics, I really don't think you need to short shrift yourself to this extent, particularly as a first year.

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Re: When should I tell my firm of pregnancy?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Oct 12, 2017 5:38 pm

unlicensedpotato wrote:
Leo wrote:The firm gives eight weeks for paternity leave, though I don’t plan on using more than two or three weeks.


Depending on lots of specifics, I really don't think you need to short shrift yourself to this extent, particularly as a first year.


I'm not sure why you wouldn't just take the 8 weeks, or however much you and your wife and baby need. If that's only 2 or 3 weeks fine, but it's an official policy and wouldn't you rather be at home with your family? Don't miss out on that just because you worry about what the firm might think of you.

Disclaimer: I'm still in law school, but I have plenty of pre-law school working experience.

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Re: When should I tell my firm of pregnancy?

Postby hlsperson1111 » Thu Oct 12, 2017 6:08 pm

Midlevel here. You should tell people about the pregnancy now and not bring up paternity leave at this juncture. I think about 1.5x-2x the amount of time you plan to be out (with a minimum of 4 weeks) is an appropriate amount of time to give people notice that you are planning to be taking leave, but I would talk to someone at your firm you trust about this issue. I would take a minimum of a month off for paternity leave, FYI.

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Re: When should I tell my firm of pregnancy?

Postby BigZuck » Thu Oct 12, 2017 6:35 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
unlicensedpotato wrote:
Leo wrote:The firm gives eight weeks for paternity leave, though I don’t plan on using more than two or three weeks.


Depending on lots of specifics, I really don't think you need to short shrift yourself to this extent, particularly as a first year.


I'm not sure why you wouldn't just take the 8 weeks, or however much you and your wife and baby need. If that's only 2 or 3 weeks fine, but it's an official policy and wouldn't you rather be at home with your family? Don't miss out on that just because you worry about what the firm might think of you.

Disclaimer: I'm still in law school, but I have plenty of pre-law school working experience.

I don't think it's necessarily that easy and I don't get why this is anon. I get why some people are reluctant to trust official policies.

OP- I think first step is find out the official policy (sounds like you've done that). Then find out the unofficial policy. This can be tricky. Then if the unofficial policy differs from the official policy, decide if you care whether others (might) care that you went by the official policy rather than the unofficial policy. It's a personal decision. Also this can be applied to virtually everything that goes on at a firm, not just paternity leave.

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Re: When should I tell my firm of pregnancy?

Postby BigZuck » Thu Oct 12, 2017 6:37 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:
Nebby wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:This is a very tough and awkward situation. Try and get a couple of your firms policies or employment handbook and see what is provided for maternity leave for a father.

Are you a 0L?

They’re not.

I think maybe it was a poorly worded unfunny joke but unclear at this point. Maybe out the anon abuser and we can ask them ourselves?

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ggocat
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Re: When should I tell my firm of pregnancy?

Postby ggocat » Thu Oct 12, 2017 8:01 pm

BigZuck wrote:I don't think it's necessarily that easy and I don't get why this is anon. I get why some people are reluctant to trust official policies.

OP- I think first step is find out the official policy (sounds like you've done that). Then find out the unofficial policy. This can be tricky. Then if the unofficial policy differs from the official policy, decide if you care whether others (might) care that you went by the official policy rather than the unofficial policy. It's a personal decision. Also this can be applied to virtually everything that goes on at a firm, not just paternity leave.

I agree with this. I can't imagine any male lawyer taking 8 weeks off for an uncomplicated birth and thereafter being taken seriously. FWIW, the unofficial policy for men in my area seems to be 2-3 weeks (but that's in government where we don't get paid paternity leave and have to use sick/vacation time).

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Re: When should I tell my firm of pregnancy?

Postby rpupkin » Thu Oct 12, 2017 8:21 pm

ggocat wrote:
BigZuck wrote:I don't think it's necessarily that easy and I don't get why this is anon. I get why some people are reluctant to trust official policies.

OP- I think first step is find out the official policy (sounds like you've done that). Then find out the unofficial policy. This can be tricky. Then if the unofficial policy differs from the official policy, decide if you care whether others (might) care that you went by the official policy rather than the unofficial policy. It's a personal decision. Also this can be applied to virtually everything that goes on at a firm, not just paternity leave.

I agree with this. I can't imagine any male lawyer taking 8 weeks off for an uncomplicated birth and thereafter being taken seriously.

Well, at my firm a father can take several weeks off for a birth and still be taken seriously--which reinforces BigZuck's point that OP should find out his firm's unofficial policy.

Also, I don't agree with waiting until 2 months before the birth to tell folks. OP, if you tell others about your pending fatherhood now, you will not be "known as the guy who showed up and immediately asked for paternity leave." The firm isn't going to care. In fact, the firm would likely much rather have you take time off now than later in your associate career.

Because you're a first-year associate, your firm isn't really counting on you for much anyway (even though they have to pretend like they are.) And, if your hours are low at the end of the year (which they will be if you take two months off), you'll have a credible excuse. The only real side effect is that maybe you'll get a pro-rated bonus or something. But that's a very small price to pay for getting to spend time with your child during the first few weeks of their life.

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Re: When should I tell my firm of pregnancy?

Postby BigZuck » Thu Oct 12, 2017 8:28 pm

rpupkin wrote:
ggocat wrote:
BigZuck wrote:I don't think it's necessarily that easy and I don't get why this is anon. I get why some people are reluctant to trust official policies.

OP- I think first step is find out the official policy (sounds like you've done that). Then find out the unofficial policy. This can be tricky. Then if the unofficial policy differs from the official policy, decide if you care whether others (might) care that you went by the official policy rather than the unofficial policy. It's a personal decision. Also this can be applied to virtually everything that goes on at a firm, not just paternity leave.

I agree with this. I can't imagine any male lawyer taking 8 weeks off for an uncomplicated birth and thereafter being taken seriously.

Well, at my firm a father can take several weeks off for a birth and still be taken seriously--which reinforces BigZuck's point that OP should find out his firm's unofficial policy.

Also, I don't agree with waiting until 2 months before the birth to tell folks. OP, if you tell others about your pending fatherhood now, you will not be "known as the guy who showed up and immediately asked for paternity leave." The firm isn't going to care. In fact, the firm would likely much rather have you take time off now than later in your associate career.

Because you're a first-year associate, your firm isn't really counting on you for much anyway (even though they have to pretend like they are.) And, if your hours are low at the end of the year (which they will be if you take two months off), you'll have a credible excuse. The only real side effect is that maybe you'll get a pro-rated bonus or something. But that's a very small price to pay for getting to spend time with your child during the first few weeks of their life.

I don't know that I'd go so far as to say the firm categorically won't care. But I will go so far as to say you should figure out if you care if they do care.

To be clear- I don't really have an opinion one way or the other. I think it's something you've got to figure out on your own/for yourself.

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Re: When should I tell my firm of pregnancy?

Postby rpupkin » Thu Oct 12, 2017 8:58 pm

BigZuck wrote:I don't know that I'd go so far as to say the firm categorically won't care.

Why would the firm care if an expecting father told them about it when starting as a first year? What kind of hypothetical concerns are you contemplating?

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hdivschool
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Re: When should I tell my firm of pregnancy?

Postby hdivschool » Thu Oct 12, 2017 9:51 pm

At my firm, you can take 4-5 months off. I know of multiple men in my office who have taken the full leave. Associates don't care. My sense is that the partners don't mind terribly much either, because I know a couple partner-track senior associates have taken the leave. I agree that (1) this is firm dependent and (2) setting that aside, you should share the news of the pregnancy whenever appropriate and ask for leave a month or two in advance.

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Re: When should I tell my firm of pregnancy?

Postby BigZuck » Thu Oct 12, 2017 10:15 pm

rpupkin wrote:
BigZuck wrote:I don't know that I'd go so far as to say the firm categorically won't care.

Why would the firm care if an expecting father told them about it when starting as a first year? What kind of hypothetical concerns are you contemplating?

A little of this I guess
ggocat wrote:I can't imagine any male lawyer taking 8 weeks off for an uncomplicated birth and thereafter being taken seriously. FWIW, the unofficial policy for men in my area seems to be 2-3 weeks (but that's in government where we don't get paid paternity leave and have to use sick/vacation time).

also a little of hearing senior associates/partners openly gossiping about incoming first years ("Oh that dude's a total flake, I don't know if I want to work with him") based on perceptions they made two years ago. Not trying to stoke fear or saying firms will or won't care. I'm guessing they won't care. But I'm saying find out if they will or won't care, and then figure out if you do or don't care if they do care. I think "They won't care, full stop, end of story" is a bit too broad of a statement that's all.

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Mr. Peanutbutter
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Re: When should I tell my firm of pregnancy?

Postby Mr. Peanutbutter » Fri Oct 13, 2017 2:12 am

I can tell you, at least in my group, it’d be way weirder for someone to hide something that big in your personal life than to request paternity leave 8ish months into the job, but we’re also a pretty tight knit group

Feel the group out for a few weeks or so. Maybe bring it up in a social situation or group happy hour or something if that feels appropriate, and like others said don’t talk about leave until it gets closer. Most likely best course of action is to just discuss leave with the assignment coordinating partner or whatever if you have one, and then a month or so before you can tell the other people you’re working with “hey just a heads up baby’s due next month so I’ll be out for a bit.” If people know you’re kids on the way it won’t be weird.

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rpupkin
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Re: When should I tell my firm of pregnancy?

Postby rpupkin » Fri Oct 13, 2017 2:46 am

BigZuck wrote:
rpupkin wrote:
BigZuck wrote:I don't know that I'd go so far as to say the firm categorically won't care.

Why would the firm care if an expecting father told them about it when starting as a first year? What kind of hypothetical concerns are you contemplating?

A little of this I guess
ggocat wrote:I can't imagine any male lawyer taking 8 weeks off for an uncomplicated birth and thereafter being taken seriously. FWIW, the unofficial policy for men in my area seems to be 2-3 weeks (but that's in government where we don't get paid paternity leave and have to use sick/vacation time).

also a little of hearing senior associates/partners openly gossiping about incoming first years ("Oh that dude's a total flake, I don't know if I want to work with him") based on perceptions they made two years ago. Not trying to stoke fear or saying firms will or won't care. I'm guessing they won't care. But I'm saying find out if they will or won't care, and then figure out if you do or don't care if they do care. I think "They won't care, full stop, end of story" is a bit too broad of a statement that's all.

Ah. We're somewhat talking past each other. There are two issues here: (1) when should OP tell his firm about his kid, and (2) how long should his leave be? I'm talking about the first issue; I think you're probably talking about the second. I agree with you on the second issue, as I said in my initial post: OP should find out the firm's unofficial policy before asking for a particular amount of time off.

But on the first issue--whether OP should wait for awhile to tell his firm about his pending fatherhood for fear of being branded in some way--I don't think OP has anything to worry about. I'm familiar with the sort of firm gossip you mention, but I've never heard that gossip directed at an associate who announced that his wife was expecting. That would be weird.

Anyway, there's no reason for OP to hold back his news until two months before his kid is born. He can figure out the duration of his leave later.




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