Managing Parental Leave: Considerations for Women in the Legal Profession

  • April 02, 2021
  • Amelia Yiu, Elm Law Professional Corporation

Lawyers who are about to welcome a new child into their lives should all be concerned about parental leave, but I am writing this for the Women’s Law Forum because the burden of child care disproportionately falls on women in our society. This is because of the ingrained expectation that women perform these childcare duties, no matter what their profession or the profession of their spouse.

I have given birth to four babies over the last ten years. I wish I could say that the legal profession has changed over those years to become more inclusive, more flexible and more welcoming to lawyers who want to have children and a career, but I cannot.

On the bright side, I’ve noticed a steady increase in the number of lawyers willing to speak out about the inequities lawyers face when they want to take parental leave. This is heartening and a good step forward. I am happy that many of my colleagues are willing to speak out about the blatant unfairness they face.

There are so many women who have managed to stay at Bay Street firms and are making positive change for the women (and men) that will come after them, but that is not my story. I left Bay Street, like so many others, and opened my own practice so that I could control my destiny when it came to family planning and career progression. When I took my parental leaves as an independent contractor associate or as the co-owner of my current firm, I had already built a support network of professionals around me that helped take care of my clients in my absence. It was imperative for me, in forging my career path, to ensure that I had built-in supports to allow for future parental leaves. Now, I make it my mission to ensure the lawyers at my firm have those same supports.