<< Return to Publications List

The Prevalence of Opposition to Motions to Continue to Accommodate Parental Leave

Jennifer L. Feld | February 5, 2020

As published in the St. Petersburg Bar Association Paraclete, February 2020

Out of Office Auto Reply: “I am out of the office on maternity leave with limited access to emails. I will, however, be attending all hearings, depositions, and trials.”

I support the Parental Leave Rule. To get all preconceived notions out of the way, I am a female trial attorney, a toddler mom, a committee chair for the state FAWL (Florida Association for Women Lawyers). In August, FAWL supported the Rule at the Florida Supreme Court oral arguments, and I actively participated in the Supplemental Filing provided to the Court. I have written a number of articles touching on sensitive issues such as maternity leave, lactation rooms, and how to pump breastmilk during a jury trial.

The proposed Rule of Judicial Administration would allow up to a three month trial continuance to accommodate parental leave for lead counsel, unless the opposing party can show substantial prejudice. Without discussing the semantics of the proposed Rule itself, I’d like to discuss the oft-argued opposition. Many practitioners and judges believe the Parental Leave Rule is not necessary as there is no problem to solve. Is there a judge that would deny such a continuance? Is there an opposing counsel that would question the request? I quickly decided to conduct my own case study.

Within one hour, I received eight responses citing orders denying continuances due to maternity leave and motions in opposition to continuances filed by opposing parties. All examples occurred within the past three years. The issue was systemic and state-wide.

From as far north as Okaloosa County, down to Broward County, and across to Collier, women across the state were being denied their day in court due to requests for maternity leave.Either the judiciary was denying continuances, or the continuances were eventually granted, but only after a scathing, embarrassing motion in opposition was filed by the opposing party.

One attorney was faced with two motions for reconsideration after her maternity leave continuance was granted. It was as if her nightmare would not end. I picked up the phone and decided to talk to each of these women individually. As you might imagine, there is some reluctance for the ‘victims’ to come forward with their stories in the first place, so for the purposes of this article, all names will remain anonymous.

In perhaps the most egregious account, an attorney filed a motion for continuance to accommodate her maternity leave. A reading of the transcript from the hearing, which is now part of the court record, will make your blood boil. Opposing counsel states that the attorney handling the file should have never been assigned a case in the first place, as she was pregnant at the time. He nearly accuses her law firm of malpractice for affording her the case referral, when the “stress” of it all would be to much for a woman in her condition. Never mind that the client had requested her specifically. Never mind that she never once complained of being stressed during the trial. Never mind that her pregnancy had not inhibited her ability to practice law. She was absolutely capable of trying the case, she simply wanted to be granted her maternity leave to continue the trial for a mere three months. After multiple motions in opposition, the continuance was eventually granted.

In the case study above, the attorney was at risk of losing her client, should the case have been pulled from her and given to another lawyer in her office. She was at risk of losing her upcoming partnership appointment. How would she have handled the situation if she were a solo practitioner? Luckily, her continuance was granted, but only after substantial embarrassment, headache, and futility in an unnecessary exercise of resources by the court.

Another example resulted from a terrible bout of bad timing for an esteemed trial lawyer. A female partner at a trial firm lamented to me about the unfortunate circumstance whereby she and her associate were both pregnant at the same time. They had a one-month overlap where they would both be out on maternity leave.

It was a rough time for her office, no doubt.However, when she and her associate requested a continuance on their trial, it was denied by the court without reason. She was forced to refer the case to a male partner from another office. The case had been pending for over four years. While the male partner was skilled, he was forced to take over a case on the eve of trial, and did not obtain the desired verdict for the client. The female partner expressed to me in confidence that her mental state during her maternity leave was greatly affected by this trial outcome. She was worried about the verdict. She felt guilty for ‘dumping’ the trial on her partner. She was angry that she lost her shot at trying the case, which may have counted towards her board certification.

I could go on. Since my initial “case study,” I have been contacted by lawyers from all over the state, requesting assistance on their Motions to Continue. Usually, the attorneys are surprised to hear there is opposition in the first place – from the bench, opposing counsel, or both. After a recent contentious “win,” a female trial attorney wrote to me, “I am so appreciative and inspired by your advocacy for those of us that want and expect to be able to advance in our careers while also taking on and navigating motherhood.

I write this article for one purpose. Whatever happens with the proposed Rule, I encourage all of you to be advocates. Raise awareness. Offer to support your colleagues. The advancement of women in our profession depends on it.

This summer, I’ll see you at calendar call, folks. I’ll be the one wearing mesh underwear and lactation pads.



Miami Office

9100 South Dadeland Blvd., Suite 1800
Miami, FL 33156

T: 305.374.1212 F: 305.374.7846

view location | map location


Key West

Key West Office

402 Applerouth Lane, Suite 2C
Key West, FL 33040

T: 305.509.7300 F: 305.374.7846

view location | map location
Ft. Lauderdale

Ft. Lauderdale Office

110 East Broward Blvd., Suite 1400
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301

T: 954.768.0011 F: 954.768.0514

view location | map location
West Palm Beach

West Palm Beach Office

515 North Flagler Drive, Suite 1800
West Palm Beach, FL 33401

T: 561.640.0303 F: 561.640.0524

view location | map location

Indian River | Martin | Okeechobee | Palm Beach | Saint Lucie


Tampa Office

400 North Ashley Drive, Suite 1200
Tampa, FL 33602

T: 813.204.9776 F: 813.204.9660

view location | map location
Hernando | Hillsborough | Manatee | Pasco | Pinellas | Polk | Sarasota

Orlando Office

201 South Orange Avenue, Suite 475
Orlando, FL 32801

T: 407.245.3630 F: 407.245.7685

view location | map location
Brevard | Highlands | Orange | Osceola | Seminole

Ocala Office

101 Southwest 3rd Street
Ocala, FL 34471

T: 352.622.4222 F: 352.622.9122

view location | map location
Alachua | Citrus | Dixie | Gilchrist | Lake | Levy | Marion | Putnam | Sumter | Volusia

Jacksonville Office

76 South Laura Street, Suite 1400
Jacksonville, FL 32202

T: 904.396.0062 F: 904.396.0380

view location | map location
Baker | Bradford | Clay | Columbia | Duval | Flagler | Hamilton | Nassau | Saint Johns | Union

Pensacola Office

125 West Romana Street, Suite 550
Pensacola, FL 32502

T: 850.434.0003 F: 850.434.0223

view location | map location

Escambia | Holmes | Okaloosa | Santa Rosa | Walton


Tallahassee Office

1705 Metropolitan Boulevard, Suite 202
Tallahassee, FL 32308

T: 850.222.5188 F: 850.222.5108

view location | map location

Bay | Calhoun | Franklin | Gadsden | Gulf | Jackson | Jefferson | Leon | Liberty | Wakulla | Washington | Madison | Lafayette | Taylor 

Ft. Myers

Ft. Myers Office

13350 Metro Parkway, Suite 401
Fort Myers, FL 33966

T: 239.334.8403 F: 239.939.0700

view location | map location

Charlotte | Collier | DeSoto | Glades | Hardee | Hendry | Lee


Mobile Office

11 North Water Street, Suite 10290
Mobile, AL 36602

T: 251.308.3351 F: 251.287.1624

view location | map location

Baldwin | Washington | Clarke | Escambia | Covington | Geneva | Houston | Henry |  Dale | Coffee | Barbour | Pike |Crenshaw | Butler  | Monroe | Clarke | Choctaw | Wilcox | Bullock | Russell

hover over location name to preview, or click it for full details

Our Firm

our hi(story)

In 1963, Gene Kubicki founded the firm based on dedication to excellence. The same high standards have been maintained for over five decades -- years which have seen the firm’s ranks swell to over 175 attorneys.


Our team knows return clients are the life blood of any law firm and this is why we ensure client satisfaction by an exacting attention to service and quality.  Client service coupled with a spectacular work ethic, makes our team hard to beat.

find an attorney


Kubicki Draper is committed to fostering an environment of equal opportunity for success and believes diversity is not only a moral imperative, but is also sound business practice.

Read More


In response to the growing needs of its clients, the firm began expanding in the early 1980's and today is a diverse full-service law firm providing trial, appellate, coverage, commercial and real estate transaction services.

browse our practice areas


Kubicki Draper enjoys a national reputation for expertise in the handling of complex, high stakes litigation matters, as well as, appellate, general commercial and real estate practice.

preview our results


With a dozen offices throughout the State of Florida and other key points in the southern parts of Georgia, Alabama, and Mississipi, our firm is familiar to every venue statewide and will never get home-teamed.

find the location near you