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  • Writer's pictureJudge Michael Donio


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I was just promoted and I am worried about telling my employer that I am pregnant. I am going to be out for four months toward the end of the year on maternity leave. Can they demote me? Fire me? Cut my salary?

In three words, no, no and no. Under the laws against discrimination, you are thoroughly protected as the result of a pregnancy. You cannot be demoted, or fired. Depending on when you go out for maternity leave, and if you want to go out earlier than the law allows, perhaps you could work less hours and take less of a salary. That is something that you would have to talk to them about.

However, the law is very clear that you cannot be terminated or demoted in any way because of a pregnancy. This comes about under the laws of discrimination. Furthermore, employers must be very careful in today’s society about violating any laws of discrimination based on a disability, race or other issue. That is because if you bring a lawsuit and you win that lawsuit, this is one of the few cases in New Jersey where the losing side would be responsible for all of your attorney fees. This makes these cases very dangerous for any employer. Good luck with your pregnancy.


If someone goes to law school but does not want to practice law, what other kinds of careers can they have as a lawyer who is not a member of the Bar?

First of all, you should maintain your Bar membership with the New Jersey State Bar and your local Bar Association no matter what you do. You also should register your license with the State of New Jersey and pay the client security fund every year so that you show up as an active lawyer.

With that being said, there is really nothing that you cannot do with a law degree. I, for instance, graduated law school with numerous people who never practiced a day of law in a law firm in their life. One of my good friends is the President of a nursing home chain that started out in Pennsylvania and now is in four or five different states. Another friend of mine from law school is working for an insurance company and is not trying cases but is in management with an insurance company and has done very well. There is no employer that I know of who would not love to have a person with a law degree in any type of a management position in their company. The opportunities with a law degree are endless.

While there are now over 80,000 licensed lawyers alone in the State of New Jersey, many of those lawyers do not practice law on a daily basis but are working for big and small companies doing all sorts of legal and nonlegal matters. A law degree helps you in every facet I believe of life that you will encounter especially in this day and age.

Therefore, I would not worry about finding a career with a law degree and my thought is strong that a law degree can only help someone down the road who does not want to practice law in a law firm.

Judge Michael Donio served as a New Jersey State Superior Court Judge for 20 years before retiring on July 31, 2015. He now operates a legal consulting and mediation firm on the White Horse Pike. Donio can be reached by calling (609) 481-2919. Send your questions for his columns to


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