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Addressing the Treatment of Attorneys Who Are Mothers & the New Laws Benefitting Working Parents

Mom and her child on the laptop

With National Working Mom’s Day just celebrated on March 12, it is important to address the age-old disparity in the treatment of women, particularly working mothers, in the workplace. The American Bar Association Commission on Women in the Profession recently published a survey that focused on working attorneys with children – with an emphasis on mothers – and how they navigate their careers and the workplace. Some significant statistics from that survey include:  

  • 61% of mothers vs. 26% of fathers in firms have experienced demeaning comments about being a working parent. 

  • 60% of mothers and only 25% of fathers in firms noted feeling that they were perceived as less committed to their careers. 

  • 37% of mothers vs. 22% of fathers in firms said they were denied additional compensation. 

  • Mothers were more than twice as likely as fathers to feel that having children had a negative impact on their legal career. 

  • 65% percent of mothers reported arranging for childcare, and 47% of mothers said they leave work for their children’s needs. Only 7% and 17% of fathers said they take on these responsibilities. 

In light of these statistics, law firms and other legal employers are encouraged to implement policies and resources to support working mothers (and parents in general) and advancing their careers. Some initiatives that legal employers can fulfill, as suggested by the Commission on Women in the Profession include:  

  • More part-time, flexible hours, or remote work opportunities 

  • Comprehensive family health insurance 

  • Parenting policies & childcare resources 

  • More wellness & mental health services 

  • More specified training and leadership development opportunities 

New Laws for Pregnant or Breastfeeding Workers and Maryland Employees

Over the past year, new federal and state laws have gone into effect that expand the protections of working parents. As stated by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act requires employers to provide “reasonable accommodations” to a worker’s known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, unless the accommodation will cause the employer an “undue hardship.”  

Under the federal Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, the PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act extends the protections presented in the Affordable Care Act of 2010 to salaried employees and requires employers to pay nursing employees for hours worked, if they are working while they pump.  

Here in Maryland, Governor Wes Moore approved the Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program, which entitles eligible employees to up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave. This is a monumental achievement for Maryland workers, as Maryland has become one of the few states that offers paid family and medical leave. Employers and employees can begin contributions to this Program this year on October 1st and employees can begin using the Program benefits on January 1, 2026.  

All The Legal Ladies Podcast Logo

To learn more about how the partners of our firm navigate being an attorney and being mothers, check out the first episode of our podcast, All The Legal Ladies, on YouTube, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Audible, or Podbean


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