Lawyer Monthly - Women In Law Awards 2023

31 USA The reality is that many female lawyers, especially at the partner level, are still paid less and treated differently than their male counterparts. Throughout my career, I’ve routinely seen that many companies, including law firms, don’t make changes until they’re forced to. My firm has brought a number of high-profile lawsuits against Big Law firms on behalf of female lawyers. As a result of the negative publicity, many of those firms have made changes and taken steps towards greater equality. I am often in awe of my clients who have the courage to stand up to powerful institutions and demand fair treatment. Although that can be a scary process, publicly calling out inequality is the most effective way to create change. What drove you to specialize in the Criminal/Sexual Violence Practice Group at Sanford Heisler Sharp? For many years, I worked as a federal criminal prosecutor at the Department of Justice, prosecuting civil rights crimes around the country. The bulk of the cases I prosecuted were police misconduct cases where the perpetrators were incredibly powerful and the victims were often some of the most powerless in our society – people like prisoners and undocumented immigrants. Many of those police misconduct cases involved officers committing sexual assaults. Those cases were very victim-focused, and I spent a countless number of hours with crime survivors and sexual assault survivors. I gained a deep passion for victim advocacy work and helping survivors to obtain justice. After leaving the Department of Justice, it felt like a really natural next chapter to co-chair Sanford Heisler Sharp’s Criminal/Sexual Violence Practice Group. In that role, I still get to represent and fight for survivors of sexual assault and other crimes. but the more years that I was away from the law, the more daunting it seemed to return. I’m grateful that my law firm welcomed me back and allowed me, initially, to work a parttime schedule. In the years since, I have risen through the ranks at my firm and am now a Partner and the Co-Chair of my firm’s Criminal/Sexual Violence Practice Group. With those titles come more professional obligations and more high-demand cases; however, my firm still allows me the flexibility I need to balance my work and home lives. It’s not uncommon for me to take an hour here and there during the day to run my daughter to sports practice or the orthodontist. I’ll just get online later in the evening to address anything that came up during that time. Achieving a work-life balance has also been much easier since the pandemic normalized teleworking. My firm still allows us to work from home 2-3 days a week. Just the time I save by not commuting through D.C. traffic gives me more hours in my day. The glass ceiling is a common metaphor used in discussions about women in leadership. In your experience, does this ceiling still exist in the legal field? If so, how can it be effectively shattered? I wish I could say that the glass ceiling is a thing of the past in the legal field. However, in addition to being the cochair of the Criminal/Sexual Violence Practice Group, I also handle employment discrimination cases. I’ve represented a number of women lawyers, particularly in Big Law, who have experienced gender discrimination and/or sexual harassment. “Throughout my career, I’ve routinely seen that many companies, including law firms, don’t make changes until they’re forced to.” “Achieving a worklife balance has also been much easier since the pandemic normalized teleworking.”

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