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I’m pregnant on my City training contract and I don’t know what to do

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Who do I tell?

In the latest instalment in our Career Conundrums series, one aspiring City solicitor has fallen pregnant during her training contract and doesn’t know what to do yet.

“I’m not long into the second half of my training contract at a City firm and have just found out I’m pregnant. By the time I have the baby I’ll be qualified. I don’t know what to do and who to tell. I want to make as good an impression as I can on the firm and my colleagues, but this is my first pregnancy and I don’t want to jeopardise anything by working on stressful deals long into the night. At the same time, I’ve always wanted to become partner at a law firm and don’t want to go in-house, etc, especially so early on in my career. I’d really appreciate some advice on where to progress from here.”

If you have a career conundrum, email us with it to careers@legalcheek.com.

29 Comments

Anonymous

You should identity as a non-pregnant cis male.

These career conundrum articles are getting worse.

(16)(26)

Lux

Think of the joy the baby is going to brink you ,
Exceeds all what available in the city
Amal Clooney had twins
Why not you
And do it all
Good luck

(20)(4)

Anonymous

“..this is my first pregnancy and I don’t want to jeopardise anything by working on stressful deals long into the night. At the same time, I’ve always wanted to become partner at a law firm..”

Obviously being trolled.

(16)(16)

Anonymous

Leave – you can’t be a partner at a city law firm while mothering.

(27)(65)

Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(15)(15)

Anonymous

Lolzies.

(2)(2)

Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(9)(10)

Triggered Loon

Excuse me, are you suggesting that in [current year] it’s acceptable for women to be held responsible for the consequences of their actions?

(33)(11)

Trumpenkrieg

Worshipper of Kek spotted.

(2)(3)

Anonymous

When I was in a City firm in the early 00s one of the trainees in my department became pregnant at a similar stage in her TC to you. Somewhat grudgingly the firm did make some accommodations for her to continue. I would expect things to be better now there- not long after that firm made up its first partner who had returned part time after maternity leave when previously there was apparently no real prospect of being able to do the amount of work required to put yourself through the process. Don’t be tempted to hide it or delay the decision. Speak to HR (worth being on record with them early in case your lawyer managers are dinosaurs) and let your supervisor and head of department know asap- treat it professionally and calmly while you can rather than springing it on them as an explanation for something they might otherwise initially assume to be poor performance. Good luck.

(63)(4)

Anonymous

* Nervously chuckles * Who’s the dad?

(94)(6)

Anonymous

I think you go for qualification and see what happens.

Given the position you’re in, if you get kept on and you want more kids, then come back post mat leave and fire another one out post haste, because no one will remember who you are anyway after 6 months as a trainee and a few weeks NQ. Don’t take the full year, it looks weak, 4 months more reasonable.

When you come back after the second one, get stuck into deals like a madwoman. When all the other women are taking mat leave at 7 PQE, you’ll be in the office getting in face time and BD just like the male senior associates.

Obviously you’ll never see the kids, but that’s the same for anyone on partner track.

(22)(28)

Anonymous

They’ll get rid of you. Simple as that.

Law firms rely on natural attrition through pregnancy and other life events, people dropping out because they can’t hack it, and a constant flow of 22 year old mugs.

That’s the nature of the beast.

Qualify, then go in house. You’ll never be partner.

(32)(29)

Anonymous

Also, look on the bright side.

You’re way ahead of your friends, who will carry on with the law firm madness, and then encounter issues trying to get pregnant in their mid thirties.

(26)(16)

Anonymous

Some of these comments are disgusting and abusive. Shame on you.

Check out your maternity rights and weigh up the pros and cons. Ultimately it’s a personal decision but the general rule is once they know you’re pregnant you should be protected from any unfavourable treatment related to your pregnancy. In practice however, this is not always the case and Employers can find ways of letting you go (especially after a training contract). Main thing is to concentrate on your own agenda, health and identify opportunities for your future career. You’re not the first to go through this and you won’t be the last. Good luck 🙂

(89)(14)

Replicant

You can start by telling the dad-to-be

(21)(5)

Replicant

Congratulations, also 🙂

(11)(2)

Anonymous

First off, congratulations. You must be very happy. As for the commenters, it sounds like a lot of you work at really shitty law firms. Or are middle aged men who are clinging to the ‘good old days’ when women dropped out of the workforce after having kids. I work in a top city law firm and my boss is a partner who is a mother (and took time off to have a baby while she was a partner). She sees her kid and she does the work. It’s difficult but possible. Best of luck with everything and, as one of the commenters said, just be upfront and professional with your firm. If they’re worth working for they will work with you, not against you.

(66)(7)

Anonymous

Then you woke up.

(15)(11)

Anonymous

I’m at an MC and it’s similar. Women get made up while on mat leave now. Most (I’d almost say all) female partners have children who they do actually see thanks to a lot more working from home etc. Lots of men take paternity leave.

OP shouldn’t be discouraged. Tell the firm, take your mat leave. If you’re at a shitty firm then maybe it will be a problem but it isn’t a problem at good firms. Only listen to the positive comments here. The negative ones don’t have a clue what they are talking about.

(36)(2)

Anonymous

Cool story bro.

(2)(12)

Anonymous

Hilarious reading above.

Half know it’s a game question and the other half think it’s real. Bless.

(15)(3)

Anonymous

Congratulations!

I would encourage you to talk to your supervisor, when you feel comfortable doing so; if you can also reach out informally to more senior women who might be able to give you the benefit of their advice/experience that would also be a good idea. Discuss how long you would intend to take off, and from when. It’s hard to predict now of course – but they’ll understand that. If maternity leave is going to be after qualification, then you will need to discuss with HR about when you would be starting in the department you qualify into. It should be easy enough for them to defer your entry.

In terms of working while pregnant – I think it’s best to play that by ear. You may find you feel fine and can work normal hours – lots of people do this and are fine. If you’re too sick, exhausted or in pain to work then you cross that bridge when you come to it, in the normal way. A good employer won’t discriminate if this is the case, but personally I wouldn’t raise the issue unless and until it happens. No need to make it a bigger deal than it needs to be. Alternatively, you could simply start maternity leave before you give birth.

In the event that you are not taken on after qualification, use the second half of your maternity year to apply for NQ jobs. You’ll find that you’re in a far, far better position on the job market once you’re qualified – it’s not the same as applying for TCs.

The important thing to remember is that you are not the first woman at the firm to fall pregnant, and you won’t be the first to return to work afterwards.

As someone pointed out to me recently (I’m a young woman at the bar and thinking about when to have kids), early in one’s career is actually not a bad time for it to happen: it’s actually harder psychologically (though still workable) to take a break the more established you get, as you feel that you’re slipping back from the reputation you have built. If you take maternity leave right at the start, you’re just delaying the commencement of your career. And frankly, maternity leave isn’t that long: tons of lawyers in their 20s are off the market doing secondments for 6 months or a year.

There are lots of female partners with children in the City, and lots of successful female barristers with kids. Find role models, and find out how they did it. In my experience, many senior women are very happy to discuss this.

Ignore the more ridiculous responses above – sadly this website attracts some very young and very bitter male trolls with no life experience. The idea that it is impossible to have a successful career and children is totally ridiculous, and easily contradicted by walking into any law firm or chambers where there are indeed women doing well. Yes, there’s underrepresentation of women at the top – but that’s not to say that this means there is a total absence of successful working mothers (and hopefully things are changing anyway).

Also, there are probably better places online to get advice on this question than Legal Cheek (which I think is primarily used by students). Try Mumsnet – there’ll be plenty of threads on similar issues already.

Good luck and congratulations again.

(94)(6)

Anonymous

Best and most helpful comment I’ve seen on LC for a long time.

(19)(1)

Toppsy Kretts

Wishing you all the support in the world and many congratulations. Many leading employers have very flexible and modern approaches. Speak to your manager about it, whilst at the same time pitching what you’re really good at and what you’ve achieved so far. They’ll help you carve out a path to succeed.

Don’t worry about all the haters – comes with the territory.

(15)(3)

Anonymous

Looks like paternity tests will have to be passed around for the male partners at Bones Bay

(9)(6)

Anonymous

At trainee at our firm is currently on mat leave, has been offered an NQ position and will need to finish her TC when she returns next year. Be honest and open with your HR department, though I would suggest avoiding chat about the stresses of big deals, it might put you on the back foot.

(10)(0)

Pusha T

🙂

(6)(0)

Anonymous

Talk to your doctor about your nerves as working hard is something that lots of pregnant women do without jeopardizing anything.
Talk to the father/your partner and plan how you are going to share equal responsibility for child rearing and household management. Think of what matters most in your firm, if working into the evening matters more than early arrival, plan so that you do drop offs rather than pick ups from day care, etc.
Also, use your salaries to make your lives easier/free up time for your career and baby, for example, hire a cleaner/housekeeper.

(6)(0)

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