Work Hard and Ask for What You Want
Marian Wright Edelman famously stated: “You can’t be what you can’t see.”
As a young Delaware corporate lawyer, I always had a vision of what I wanted to achieve: excellence in my practice, a leadership role at a global law firm, and a family. That may sound easy enough, but when I looked around me within my profession, it was difficult to find other women who achieved these things in quite the same way that I hoped that I would. There were incredibly successful female attorneys who chose not to have families. There were talented women who elected to forego the partnership track to raise their children. There were women who, together with their partners, decided the best way to balance their various responsibilities was for one partner to be the primary caregiver for their children and step back from their career entirely. Many of those women were, and still are, my mentors, and I applaud them for making the decisions that worked for them. However, I didn’t see their paths as the right ones for me and my family. Today, as a successful corporate lawyer with clients who trust me with their most complex transactions, the managing shareholder of the Delaware office of the same firm where I started my career, and an involved mother of two (soon to be three!), I work arduously to be a visible and approachable role model for other women and to support them in whatever they want to achieve—no matter what it looks like for them.
The best advice I can give to other women attorneys is advice I received early in my own career: Ask for what you want. Six years ago, I took this advice to heart and asked for a management role in my office. I was young—I had only been a shareholder for two years—and there had never been a female managing shareholder in my office before. I expected the answer to be no, but my firm supported me. So today, I repeat the advice that worked for me. Ask for the new position, ask for the complex work, ask for the support you need from your loved ones, superiors, and colleagues. You will likely be pleasantly surprised by the answer.