The Texas Supreme Court Advisory Committee is reviewing a potential change to the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, known as the “parental leave proposal.” The proposal would provide lawyers a break in the form of a three-month continuance when a new baby is expected either through birth or adoption. Law360’s Michelle Casady describes the proposal in her story, “Texas Could Give A Key Break To Trial Attys Expecting Kids.” In the article, several female attorneys shared experiences about preparing for trials while pregnant.
Winston & Strawn’s partner Paula Hinton talked about an exchange with a state judge:
“The judge leaned forward, looked at me over the bench, and said, ‘Ms. Hinton, when you got pregnant, you knew you had this trial setting,’” recalled Hinton, “Being the daughter of a lawyer and being in court my whole life … I said, ‘Your Honor, when I got pregnant, your trial setting wasn’t exactly on my mind.’”
Meloney Perry of Perry Law P.C. discussed interaction with opposing counsel in a 2004 class action dispute:
“I told him, ‘You can explain it to the judge when I show up with the baby on my back,’” she said. “I had some people who were very understanding, and some that did not quite get it.
Burns Charest partner LeElle Slifer recounted the uneasiness of asking for a continuance:
“I had to ask for this continuance when I was probably two months pregnant, and I saw the timeline and knew where it was going,” she said. “I honestly almost didn’t feel comfortable discussing it with the other side. There was no clear rule about what would happen, and it was a contentious case.”
All attorneys say they support the proposal to relieve tension that is sometimes created due to the circumstances.