Treading the high-stakes tightrope of motherhood is hard work. Between late-night feedings, potty training and the stress of raising a happy, well-adjusted child, the business side of parenthood is often neglected. Lisa Pierson Weinberger, a successful Hollywood lawyer to the stars, noticed the dire need for legal counsel for new moms regarding maternity leave rights, flexible post-baby work schedules and managing domestic affairs with childcare and nannies. Breaking away from corporate law, Weinberger established Mom, Esq., a law firm dedicated to advising moms- and dads-to-be on the legal issues surrounding parenthood. We sat down with Pierson Weinberger to gain some insight.
What inspired you to cater exclusively to working moms?
LISA PIERSON WEINBERGER: I had my son eighteen months ago, and at that time I took about six months off from work… I was meeting all kinds of new moms, just women in the community that I wouldn’t have met except for the fact that we all have kids the same age. And I was finding that there was such a need for new moms at this time of transition to have legal counsel. It seemed clear that there was a void and that these needs weren’t being met and that women didn’t really know where to go.
This was a major career switch for you. How has the transition been, and what's the hardest thing you've had to adjust to?
LPW: The transition has been fantastic. It sounds so cliché, but when I’m working with my clients now, it really doesn’t feel like work. It really feels like I’m just helping friends that I’ve met.
What has been the reception to your services?
LPW: The reception has been fantastic. Every time I’m talking to someone about it or explaining what I do, the reception is always, “Where were you last year when I was pregnant?” or “I’m so glad I met you! I was about to hire a nanny. How do I handle this, that or the other thing?” I think people are so grateful to know that there is someone that can answer those questions that they didn’t really know who to ask.
And there are so many misconceptions out there.
LPW: It’s shocking… What I’ve seen personally from my experience in moms groups and in class and on the playground is that women really ask their friends for advice on this sort of thing. They ask one another, but they don’t have the legal background to actually know the answer, the real legal answer. So people are getting advice from well-intentioned friends who speak with authority but who really don’t always know what they’re talking about. So even when people try to get information, they are often getting it from the wrong sources.
What are some of your tips for hiring a nanny?
LPW: First and foremost, nannies are not independent contractors. They are employees. So if you have someone working in your home caring for your child, you really have an obligation to be withholding taxes from their paychecks and reporting their income to the government. That’s one big thing. Nannies are also entitled to overtime. So if you have a nanny who is working more than 40 hours a week for you, they are entitled to overtime payments even if you are paying them a salary. That’s a huge misconception. People think, “Well I’m paying her a salary so it’s fine.” That’s not the law.
What are you most excited about as you start your new business?
LPW: I am most excited about being able to provide help to women who wouldn’t receive it otherwise. I’ve been a working mom, I’ve been a new mom, I know what it’s like to have to tell your boss you’re pregnant and figure out your maternity leave rights. I know what it’s like to want a more flexible schedule and to have to hire someone in your home. These are stressful life transitions that, even for me… an employment lawyer—I do this for a living, and I found it stressful. So I feel fortunate to be able to help people through this time and make that time in their lives a lot less stressful.