Yes guys, you can take parental leave
Peter Engelmann and Jean Michel Corbeil talk about Goldblatt Partners’ parental leave policy
The Canadian Bar Association magazine, The National, spoke to Peter Engelmann and Jean-Michel Corbeil about taking parental leave.
Peter recalled that, when he took parental leave from his former firm in 1994, it was an unusual thing for male lawyers to do:
When Peter Engelmann took two months off work to spend time with his young son in 1994, he says he was something of an anomaly.
“It was fairly unique back then,” says Engelmann, a father of two and partner with Goldblatt Partners LLP in Ottawa. “I got some pushback initially. But they came around.”
Now Engelmann’s firm, which specializes in union-side labour law among other practice areas, offers topped-up parental leave options to their male and female associates – a policy Engelmann describes as “practising what we preach.”
“I know there is an up-front cost, but I see this as short-term pain long-term gain. You attract better people and retain them,” he says. “With a progressive maternity and parental leave and even some part-time options, we have attracted good female and male candidates who are interested in more than just work.”
Engelmann says that the majority of partners at Goldblatt Partners LLP are now female, unique for a firm of its size.
“Some of our prospective partners have deferred their partnership for a year to take full advantage of this parental leave program we have for our associates,” he adds.
Jean-Michel is an associate who is on parental leave right now:
Jean-Michel Corbeil, a labour lawyer with the firm, has just started his second parental leave and plans to return to work in May.
“The firm’s policies on parental leave make it such that it would be silly not to take time off,” says Corbeil, whose wife is a physician and has returned to work.
“I have been very much encouraged to take the time,” he says. “As a union law firm, we fight for these benefits for the members of our clients.”
Corbeil says that he “thoroughly enjoyed” his first parental leave and is excited for his second.
“I think it’s important to spend time with your children when you can,” he says.
But, he adds, there are some practical considerations to keep in mind.
“You miss time at the office so you’re not getting face-to-face time with your clients. You’re not building your practice. You’re not out there promoting yourself. You’re not billing,” Corbeil says.
And Peter offers some practical advice:
“Meet with your mentors. Make sure that files that need to be handled while you are away are prepared. Plan well. Be organized. Block the time off. If you’re going to do it, do it and don’t come back half-way through,” he says.