When I was younger, my life and career operated like a well-oiled machine, complete with structure, order, and a defined plan for success. Over the past several years, things have operated more like a jungle gym: a bit unpredictable and unconventional, but also more interesting and adventurous.
I started my legal career in the late 1990s, during a period when law firms and companies were quite stable and flush with work and business. During my legal career, I have worked as a federal appellate court law clerk, federal prosecutor, associate, of counsel, and partner; worked at two wonderful global law firms; and been seconded to a great client. Like many, I have experienced a fair amount of personal and professional volatility, uncertainty, and variety. Rather than lamenting this, I have realized that being able to thrive in this new normal has helped me see and seek untapped opportunities and better relate to similar challenges faced by clients and colleagues.
More importantly, through it all, I have developed a legal practice that combines my passion for international law and business with the chance to work with outstanding clients and colleagues. I have created a personal life that is meaningful and fulfilling. I also have learned the following important life lessons along the way.
Personal and professional prosperity and success are important, but so are helping others and making positive social contributions.
Develop and nurture key relationships. When you look back over your life, the time spent with family, friends, and colleagues will be remembered with much more fondness and significance than the time spent sitting in an office.
Pray early and often. I know firsthand that prayer changes situations, self, and others in a way that defies explanation. My faith is a central part of my life and a constant source of strength and joy.
At any given moment, do your best work and be your best self. Work/life balance is a difficult state to achieve. Instead, I periodically ask myself if I am doing my best and being at my best in any given moment.
Is there a role model who has had a profound impact on your career and/or life? What did he/she motivate you to do
My parents are my greatest role models. Their incredible lessons on love, sacrifice, resilience, and success have inspired, taught, and transformed me more than anything else in my life.
Has discrimination affected you as a woman in the workplace? How did you deal with it?
Although blatant forms of discrimination have been greatly reduced, more subtle forms stubbornly persist. I deal with discrimination by acknowledging that it exists and confronting it honestly and tactfully, while refusing to allow it to block my efforts and success. As an African American woman, I know firsthand that women of color face unique forms of discrimination, including exclusion from key opportunities and groups. I have worked with my law firm to start a women of color initiative to address these issues.