Having the courage to make the choices that I feel are right for me rather than what others want has been key to the freedom that allowed me to follow my non-traditional career path, one where I left the law partnership track and returned ten years later to a leadership position at a major law firm. This courage enabled me to confront wrongs I encountered and to be open to unexpected opportunities that presented themselves.
When I was a summer associate, a senior partner took all my male colleagues to lunch and excluded me as the lunch was at a club that prohibited women. Rather than accept my exclusion, I challenged the discrimination, and even packed my bags. The firm amended their ways, and I gained respect both within and outside the firm for challenging the inexcusable conduct.
An unexpected opportunity came when I was practicing on a reduced schedule in a small law firm, struggling to balance single parenthood with partner and client demands. The widow of a legal publisher whom I had met through my involvement in the local legal community, reached out to me for help. While this was an unusual proposition which would take me off the partnership track, it felt right. I accepted the challenge and reaped the huge benefit of learning how to run a publishing company and developing an expertise in insurance law. Being my own boss, I crafted a flexible schedule that worked for me and my son. And as a business owner and the editor of the CGL Reporter, I enhanced my reputation in my practice area.
After I sold my publishing company and returned to practice part-time at a medium-size firm, another unexpected opportunity showed up, this time on the soccer field. Two dads who knew me as a soccer coach and mom learned that I was an insurance coverage lawyer, recognized as an expert in the field. They were co-chairing their large law firm’s selection committee which happened to be looking for a new chair for their insurance practice group. Having seen me lead and negotiate on the field, they thought I would be perfect for the position. I accepted the challenge knowing that my experience running my own company would be a valuable asset to clients and colleagues.
Almost 20 years later, as practice group leader of our firm’s Insurance Policyholder practice, I enjoy leading younger attorneys navigating family and work issues. I hope that my example and advice give them the courage and freedom to make the right choices for them and accept the opportunities that come their way.