Friday, January 7, 2011

Grr. . .

I had a couple of ideas of things to post about today.  I even had a post all ready to go.  But I just got a call from a partner that requires me to vent.

In early December I posted about my Christmas miracle - how I asked a partner to cover an argument on a motion so that I could attend my kid's Christmas program and he agreed without hesitation.  I was grateful.  As it turns out, if I had missed my kid's Christmas program for that hearing I would have been livid.  Absolutely nothing happened at that hearing.  Everyone showed up for arguments and the whole thing was rescheduled.  For next Friday.  My day off. 

When  I started this job, the powers that be refused to let me keep the four day work schedule I had at my last place.  This firm is a little old fashioned,  a little afraid of change and honestly, a little inexperienced in the world of women lawyers.  I truly think they were afraid that a nontraditional work schedule would cause an end to the legal world as they knew it.  But, to their credit, the firm recognized that while they weren't completely comfortable with a four day work week, to get good talent and retain women, they might need to compromise.  So they agreed to an every other Friday off schedule.  And that seemed reasonable to me.  After all, I had managed a four day work week at my last place.  I was confident I could continue to manage my work flow - especially with a lower billable hour requirement and a couple of extra days in the office each month. 

But, of course, what was promised and what was delivered were two different things.  I can't remember the last Friday I had off.  Well, that's not true.  I had last Friday off.  Because it was a firm holiday.   Everybody was off.  But before that, I've been in and working every Friday for some time.  Meanwhile, my kids are growing up and moving on without me.  The whole point of my changing jobs was lost.  Time with my kids is lost. 

I understand that - as a litigator especially - I can't expect to stick to a strict schedule.  There will be times when I need to come in on my day off.  And there will be times when I can't take time off period.  I understand and accept that.  But I can't accept that those times are every single Friday I'm supposed to be off. 

There is no emergency that requires me to handle this argument.  The date has been set for a month.  And my co-counsel (not from my firm), who originally prepared to argue the motion in December and agreed to tomorrow's date, didn't have any emergency come up causing a conflict.  He simply scheduled a deposition out of town on the same day as the argument without checking with any of us first.  As a result, I'm forced to rearrange my schedule and  pay for back up child care and miss yet another day with my children that I can't get back. 

I sound like my three year old when I say this, but it isn't fair.  If I'm expected to step up to the plate and deliver, so should my co-counsel.  He scheduled this hearing and he's prepared for it.  Why now, one week before, should I be forced to rush around and find a way to make it work?  Why should my family suffer because this male partner planned his professional obligations poorly?  If he had a real emergency, I'd feel differently, but this is a made-up problem.  It should be someone else's problem. 

Sadly, the person causing all of this problem for me is my co-counsel, not someone within my actual firm.  Therefore there's very little I can do about it.  My firm is asking me to step in and handle the argument because the other people here really and truly do have legitimate conflicts that prevent them from being able to handle this now last minute motion.  But I'm angry at the lack of respect for my time and family.  I'm angry that I'm "charged" with managing my own workload, but don't have control over my own schedule.  And I'm disappointed for all the fun that I'm going to miss with my kids. 


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