My mother would tell you that, since I was a little girl, I always wanted to be independent, make a difference, and excel. Even with those early proclivities and a strong desire to succeed, I did not anticipate that I would be where I am today.
When I joined Proskauer almost twenty-six years ago, I thought I would stay at the firm for a few years—just long enough to obtain excellent training and establish connections for the future by working with smart, hardworking attorneys who practiced law at the top of the profession. I naively thought I would move on to other endeavors once I became bored and learned all there was to learn. Fortunately, I found myself at a law firm that provided me with a challenging and exciting environment, one that allowed me to continue to grow and flourish as a trusted adviser for clients and, eventually, as a leader.
There is no formula for success or leadership. For me, it began with discovering an area of law that was interesting, dynamic, and relevant. As a junior lawyer, I was exposed to the field of executive compensation and employee benefits law, which I enjoyed because of its technical and multidisciplinary nature and practical, real-life application and impact. I learned the importance of delivering quality, thoughtful, and business-minded advice to clients; knowing one’s specialty well; and providing exemplary client service. Over time, I realized how vital it is to listen to clients, understand their business, and anticipate their needs. Practicing in an area that I enjoyed at a supportive firm like Proskauer with a varied client base motivated me to work hard to achieve my goals.
In addition to practicing law, I always wanted to be actively involved with the firm. I served on various firm committees as an associate and later as a partner. From 2008 to early 2013, I served as chair of the firm’s tax department, and most recently, I was elected by the partnership to serve on the firm’s seven-member executive committee. Although I am still growing and being challenged, I believe that leadership is about facilitating the development, growth, and performance of the organization and its individuals. It is about communicating effectively and listening to and connecting with others in a way that engages them in their work and encourages achievement.
What does it take to succeed and stay competitive in your position/field?
There is no substitute for being fully informed about the latest legal and business developments and assessing how these will impact your clients.
What advice would you give young women building/preparing for a career?
Hard work, determination, and focus are key elements of being successful in building and preparing for a career, but they are not enough. In beginning a career, one should find a field that is interesting and challenging, obtain the proper education and training for that field, and ultimately, select a career that incorporates one’s own strengths. It is invaluable to critically evaluate oneself; seek the input of mentors, colleagues, and others; and acquire as much information about the particular career as possible, including learning about organizations and the individuals involved in the desired field. On a personal note, it helps to be surrounded with friends and family members who are supportive of one’s endeavors and goals.