Lawyer Monthly - Women In Law Awards 2023

32 From your perspective, what sets Sanford Heisler Sharp apart from other law firms, and how do you contribute to upholding and enhancing this distinction? One of the things that makes Sanford Heisler Sharp’s Criminal/ Sexual Violence Practice Group unique is that we take a victimcentered approach. There are a lot of firms out there that do this kind of work but not all of them think about minimizing the re-traumatization that litigation can cause a survivor. Before anyone works on Criminal/Sexual Violence cases at my firm, I make sure that they receive training on how to take a traumainformed approach. For me, it’s really important that we do whatever we can to make survivors of crime feel empowered in their pursuit of justice. Finally, as a woman who has achieved a great deal in the legal profession and one who has had exposure to many different aspects of the law, what advice would you offer to young female lawyers just starting out? My best advice to young lawyers is to find work that you’re passionate about and that’s meaningful to you. Being a lawyer is hard and it’s a million times harder when you don’t feel inspired by the work you do. I’m grateful to work at a firm that focuses on civil rights and social justice cases. To a person, my firm is full of lawyers who genuinely believe in the work we do and who care about helping people. It’s gratifying to be surrounded every day by such a talented group of people who are all working to make the world a better place. How do you navigate the emotional complexities and sensitivities when representing victims of sexual assault and violence, given the deeply personal nature of these cases? This work is hard. I spend most of my workdays talking to clients about horrible things that have happened to them or their loved ones. Most of my clients are individuals who have experienced sexual violence themselves or, even worse, parents whose children have been sexually abused. The work is emotionally grueling, and I’m often mentally spent by the time Friday evening rolls around. What makes the work even harder is that I’m also the mom of a teenage girl. It’s hard to listen to personal stories of the terrible things that can happen in the world, especially to young women, and not want to wrap my daughter in bubble wrap and never let her out of the house. But I don’t want my daughter to grow up afraid and I never want her to miss out on opportunities because of fear. I do the work I do to help individual survivors, which is incredibly rewarding. But I also do this work as a way to help create institutional change to make the world safer for my daughter and other young women. Working at the U.S. Department of Justice, you must have been exposed to a wide range of civil rights issues. Were there any cases or experiences that were particularly transformative for you? One of the most significant cases I prosecuted at the Department of Justice involved a District Attorney in Alabama who was sexually abusing young male misdemeanor offenders in the course of administering urine drug tests. We were able to identify six victims, though there were probably many more. I spent months meeting with the victims, trying to get them to trust me enough to share their traumatic stories. That case was illuminating for several reasons. First, I was amazed at the blatant abuse of power and trust by an elected official at such a high level. Second, I saw firsthand how difficult it is for sexual assault survivors, especially male survivors, to talk about their experiences. Third, I was reminded that building trust is crucial to handling these kinds of cases and that it takes patience because it can often be a long, slow process. “My best advice to young lawyers is to find work that you’re passionate about and that’s meaningful to you.” Sexual Violence Litigation Lawyer of the Year

RkJQdWJsaXNoZXIy Mjk3Mzkz