Mine is not the traditional career path. After many years in academia, I grew restless as a political science professor and enrolled in law school while teaching full time. Among unexpected benefits, I earned great grades and received an offer from Dickstein Shapiro LLP. I started at the firm in November 1988—especially pregnant—and quickly became known as the associate carrying triplets. In my first year, I volunteered to name the babies Dickstein, Shapiro, and Morin if the firm would pay for them (offer declined), took five months off, and then asked to work an 80 percent schedule (offer accepted). Such an arrangement was unprecedented for a litigator who wanted to stay on partner track. The firm took a chance on me.
The firm was creative and supportive. I was offered greater responsibility for fewer cases, and in return, I resolved to be flexible so opportunities did not pass me by. Over time, I realized that I am a better lawyer and enjoy my life more when I am passionate about my work. I asked to specialize in an undeveloped area, and then hustled to build the firm’s Employment Law Practice. Again, the firm took a chance and it worked. Employment law fits me—it taps my street smarts and people skills, is frequently outrageous, and is never dull.
While climbing the partner ladder, I have been a classroom-writing assistant, starter for the swim team, field hockey team reporter, baseball coach, and skateboard-mom. Now, my babies soon leave for college. The firm remains stunningly supportive of me; I am its Deputy General Counsel, a Practice leader, and member of the Executive Committee. I pay it forward by working as a mentor to associates in a formal professional development program, and supporting our women’s leadership initiative. The firm is a leader in letting attorneys know that both professional success and a life outside the office are possible.
Being a lawyer isn’t easy, clients never call to say “everything is perfect—please bill me.” And, being a partner isn’t everybody’s dream job. Some days, it is not mine. But at Dickstein Shapiro, we accept attorneys for who they are and do not mold them into clones. We embrace differences and take chances. After all, if a new mother who is ten years older than her peer group can start a second career and make it—anything is possible.