I love that the focus of WIL is on "women of faith who have been trained in the law," rather than women lawyers who happen to also have faith. I'm now in my 16th year of practice, but being a lawyer has never been more than just one layer of who I am. My faith very much defines everything that I am, and it's wonderful to have WIL to associate and network with other women lawyers who share that faith and know at least something of what it's like to walk in my shoes.
I grew up in Northeastern Ohio, the daughter of an artist and a lawyer and the third of 8 children. I headed West after high school and have stayed--graduating from BYU in 1994 with a BA in English and minor in psychology, and then from the J. Reuben Clark Law School in 1997. I wish I could say that I went to law school to save the world, but the honest reason is this: two roads diverged in a wood, and I -- well I took one of them. I was deciding between law school and graduate studies in English. In terms of core skills, I only knew that I loved words and stories and needed to be intellectually challenged. My father (also a lawyer) convinced me I would make a good lawyer, and I could read poetry in my spare time. So here I am nearly 16 years out of law school. It's been a difficult but rewarding road.
After graduation in 1997, I accepted a job as an associate with Brown & Bain in Phoenix, Arizona, and was (I'll admit) a bit relieved to find that I loved practicing law about a hundred times more than studying it. That's not to say I didn't enjoy law school, but in practice I couldn't get enough of the challenge of crafting arguments and piecing together the "story" of a case. Many of the lawsuits I have worked on over the years have indeed had all the plot twists and turns, orchestrated by the kind of fascinating characters you would expect from the most riveting of literature. So a girl who loved words found herself in her own perfect briar patch. Brown & Bain merged with Perkins Coie in 2004, and I have been a partner with Perkins Coie since 2005 (http://www.perkinscoie.com/
My practice focuses on litigation of complex commercial disputes, but I have also spent a fair amount of my time in recent years advising and strategizing with clients to resolve disputes through negotiated compromise before they reach arbitration or litigation. In addition to my client workload, I do quite a bit of firm management work and also try to take the time to serve in the community and through church. One of my long-time passions has focused on making this road I have chosen more "traveled by" for women and minorities in the profession.
Along those lines, in 2006 I helped to start my firm's Women's Forum--an initiative aimed at retaining and mentoring women lawyers along their paths by arming them with leadership and business development skills, while also striving to provide the work/life balance tools and policies necessary to make legal practice a truly viable option. The efforts of our Women's Forum have been nationally-recognized by Working Mother magazine (http://www.workingmother.com/
best-companies/perkins-coie-1), the Women in Law Empowerment Forum, Yale Law Women's list of the top 10 Most Friendly Law Firms for Women, and others. After six years of service in various capacities, I just rotated out of my Women's Forum leadership role in January 2013.
Our Women's Forum currently serves as a voice for more than 300 women attorneys at Perkins Coie. Along the way, I have also served in leadership roles on a number of firm committees, including our Strategic Diversity Committee and Associate Evaluation Committee, and as a member of the Phoenix office management committee and as the Litigation Lead for the Phoenix office. In the legal community, I currently serve as the Law School Outreach chair for the State Bar's Committee on Minorities and Women in the Law and regularly speak to groups of law students on a range of issues from legal practice nuts and bolts, to the down and dirty of making it work without losing your mind. I also served on the JRCLS Phoenix Chapter Board from 2007 through 2012, as well as on our local Women in the Law Committee, and been truly enriched by the experience.
Beyond any legal contribution, though, I'm perhaps most pleased with the opportunity I've had to serve for the past couple of years on the board of Girls on the Run, a life-changing, non-profit program that inspires girls in 3rd through 8th grade to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum that creatively integrates running. Running has saved my own life at many crossroads and in many ways, and I get such joy from empowering younger generations of girls to realize the vastness of their own potentials.
On a personal level, I have three wonderful children (daughters ages 10 and 8, and a son age 4) who are my complete reason for being. My oldest daughter wants to be a lawyer, my middle daughter wants to be an artist, and my son wants to ride bunking broncos (no clue where that came from). Some of our family's favorite things to do together are read, draw and paint, cook, jump on the trampoline and travel the world. We regularly do all of those things, although not all at the same time.
(We want to regularly use this blog to highlight you: women of faith who have been trained in the law. You are doing great things--in the courtroom, in your community and in your home. Getting to know each other better will strengthen each of us individually as well as strengthen us as a whole. If you know anyone you think we should highlight, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.)