Why was it important for you to specifically give women lawyers a voice in your newest book?
As women lawyers, there is so much we can learn from each other. I think that we are at an inflection point in the legal profession. We are at a place where women can have a tremendous positive influence on the practice and business of law. Sharing our stories of successes and challenges – and providing, not only advice, but providing affirmation that so much of what we feel and have experienced has been felt and experienced by others can be truly life-changing. That’s my vision for this book. If a woman reads a lesson in this book and thinks to herself, “That’s me,” or “If she can do that, so can I,” that would be awesome.
How did you select the contributors for 50 Lessons for Women Lawyers?
When I first got the idea for this book, I reached out to Michelle Suskauer, President of The Florida Bar, 2018-2019. I explained my vision for the book and asked if she would be interested in participating. Michelle was the first person to sign on and submit a lesson. From there, I reached out to other lawyers. I asked the women I invited to recommend other lawyers, and our contributors grew. There are some contributors I’ve never actually met. And I am looking forward to meeting each and every one! Our contributors are a diverse group of women from all types of practices – including women in private and public practice, current and former national, state, and local bar association presidents, judges, law school deans, entrepreneurs, and other published authors.
What are some unique challenges that women lawyers face in the profession?
I think the challenges women lawyers face are not necessarily unique to the profession. Yes, historically, the legal profession has been a male-dominated profession, and it remains so to this day. But you can say the same for so many other professions. The law is not unique in that sense. What is unique is the profession, itself. The practice of law is grounded in transformation. Law transforms culture and society, and lawyers transform people’s lives each day. Whether that transformation comes in the form of closing a multi-million-dollar business deal for a client or helping someone navigate the challenges in the break-up of a family or the death of a loved one, it is transformation, nonetheless. When women bring their whole selves to these challenges, I believe all of us are better served. My hope is that this book will empower women lawyers to bring their whole selves to the clients they serve – and most importantly to themselves and their loved ones.
Did you have your own mentors who helped you along your journey to success?
Absolutely. In fact, one of my mentors, is mentioned in the book. She is not a contributor but is mentioned in Sabrina Beavens’ contribution titled “Discovering Your Authentic Self.” Judge Pamela A.M. Campbell has been a mentor and dear friend ever since we first started practicing law. Pam graduated from law school just a couple years before me, but I have always thought of her as a mentor. Interestingly, while writing this book I have felt mentored by all of the contributors. I know that may sound odd, but I have learned something from every woman who has contributed to this book, not just through their contributions to the book itself but through their generosity and willingness to be part of this project. It’s been an honor to work with every single person. I’ve learned lessons from them that I will carry with me the rest of my life.
When did you know you would make a good mentor to others in your field?
I have always been fascinated with what makes us tick. I love to read books on self-improvement and motivation and inspiration. When I made the career switch from practicing attorney to serving as the executive director of a bar association, that’s when I realized that I could start to take some of what I had learned and practiced in my life and use it to help other lawyers improve their practices and their lives. Whether you call it mentoring or coaching, for me it’s all about helping others – lifting them up and helping them achieve what they want to achieve.
Tell us about the lesson you personally contributed to your new book and why you felt it was important to include.My lesson is a synthesis of all that the process of writing this book and collaborating with these wonderful women lawyers has meant to me. When I first got the idea for this book, the project seemed so overwhelming. I questioned whether I could actually do it. I questioned so many things in the beginning. Isn’t that the way it goes for so many of the goals we aspire to in our lives? Then I just started – one step at a time. The first person I reached out to for her input on whether this might be a worthwhile project was Michelle Suskauer. Michelle is a good friend and the current president of the Florida Bar. She was so enthusiastic and supportive of the idea that she gave me the confidence to move forward. Michelle was also the first person to contribute a lesson. I tell my clients all the time that you cannot jump to the top of Mt. Everest. You must take it one step at a time. But if you keep taking those steps, you’ll get there. That’s the way it was with this book.
50 Lessons for Women Lawyers was released on May 1, 2019, which is also known as Law Day. I am so excited for the release of this book. That is where I am focusing my energies right now, in addition, of course, to working with my clients. The next book in the 50 Lessons for Lawyers series will be 50 Lessons for Mindful Lawyers.