Partner // Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith, LLP
Description of your practice
I am a partner at Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard and Smith and my area of practice focuses on healthcare, including medical malpractice defense and long-term care defense. I also have expertise in commercial litigation and employment law.
Why are you a member of the WBAI?
I am a member of the WBAI because it is a network of inspiring women both personally and professionally. It is important to step away from your desk and make connections with other women in the law. I have learned so much from other WBAI members.
What do you think is the best way to empower women in law?
It is paramount to support women during different seasons of their life and career to empower them in law. When I was an eager new associate in Big Law, I was a top biller staying until all times of night to prove myself worthy. I had another season of my career when I took leave when my mother was terminally ill and when I experienced fertility issues after getting married in my mid-30s. Finally, when I became a single mom, I experienced yet another chapter and found myself scrambling to navigate the law in this new role.
During this time, over the course of two different defense firms, at times I felt invisible and that others were given the desired work and responsibilities despite my prior substantial billion dollar case litigation experience. Luckily, I’ve had several female mentors who helped support me with interesting work and guidance, but I have also experienced many sharp elbows from other women in power. After having been a long-time Senior Associate and worker bee (in that purgatory that seems to be the time when many gifted women leave the law), I finally made Partner last year. My current firm has been very supportive and I learned the life lesson that you have to ask for what you want and need during a particular season of your life. After having billed over 2200 for the past three years, I asked to scale back on billable hours with my one son entering high school and my firm supported it. Thus, during this current season of my career, I am trying to set boundaries which allow for self-care and family time to experience the work-life balance that has been so elusive.
What are you most looking forward to in the following year, personally/professionally?
I am looking forward to developing new clients and to do the work I love at a higher level and to delegate other tasks to keep my work-life balance in place while my son is a Freshman at Walter Payton. I am looking forward to stepping forward into the spotlight more and to let my light shine personally and professionally. Work has been my identity and I want to jointly pursue more creative endeavors in my personal life along with sustaining a more mindful practice of the law.
Tell us something interesting about you.
My motto after many years of contentious litigation is that you catch more flies with honey. I always approach other attorneys with respect and professionalism and try to diffuse any issues with opposing counsel to find a better resolution for the client. That demeanor does not mean that I represent my client’s interests any less vigorously, but it means I try to be a person of excellence and keep my word –as well as my cool– under pressure, which often aids in achieving a desired result. I also try to take time to ask junior female attorneys how their work is going and how they are doing, and try to be a refreshing and supportive presence. Finally, I am formerly a health care actuary and am always amazed that a math person even made it out of law school!