Growing up with ten siblings, including six older brothers and four sisters, has led me to appreciate varied opinions and perspectives. I know from my familial experience, for example, how differently two people (even those with similar genes) can experience the same external event. In working with more junior lawyers, I try to bear that in mind and to understand what they are experiencing.
My parents, older siblings, friends, and mentors in college, law school, and at Debevoise always encouraged me to succeed. I try to give that same message to younger lawyers who work for me. I let them know that I expect them to contribute, express their opinions, add value, and that even though we often work in large teams, to think of every case as if it were their own. Almost everyone performs better when they know they are relied upon and that their work is noticed.
There is no correct method for finding the right balance between work and the rest of our lives. We all need different things at different times and there will inevitably be periods when that balance is elusive. The key is figuring out what you need and then figuring out how to have it.
About ten years ago I was frustrated because I was not getting to run as much as I would have liked, due to work and my three small children. I was sitting in my office interviewing a law student for a summer position and I learned that she was a runner. It occurred to me that rather than sitting in my office, we could have been out on a run. From that time onwards, other than a few missed recruiting seasons due to injuries, I have conducted “running interviews.” Once I convince the recruits that I am serious, they arrive with running clothes and we hit the road. They learn about Debevoise and see a partner in a new way, while I learn about them in a more relaxed setting than sitting in my office. Perhaps they are just being indulgent (my husband’s suspicion), but my interviewees report that they enjoy the change of pace. I certainly do.
Has discrimination affected you as a woman in the workplace? How did you deal with it?
Occasionally a male adversary would say things that I doubt he would say to a man. But there were few of those experiences. Within Debevoise, I have never experienced anything but strong support and encouragement, particularly around those difficult times coming back after maternity leaves.
What advice would you give young women building/preparing for a career?
Think strategically and anticipate next steps. Don’t just do what is asked, like a student; share your ideas. Think about where you want to be in five years and find a mentor who can help you decide what it will take to get there. Develop a plan, but stay flexible to new possibilities.