As one of five sisters, I was raised to believe that I could achieve anything if I was passionate about my goals and willing to work hard. Diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease at 16, I missed nearly half of my senior year of high school but managed to graduate at the top of my class.
After college, I married and gave birth to my first daughter. As a stay-at-home mom, I began volunteer counseling, speaking, and writing on behalf of rape, incest, and spousal abuse victims. My fascination and frustration with the judicial system led me to apply to law school.
When my marriage foundered, I became a full-time law student as well as the single parent of a 2-year-old. This was my crash course in learning about balance; I arose at 5 a.m. to study and resumed full-time mothering duties when I picked up my daughter from daycare after classes were over. I remained a single parent until I remarried the year I was elected partner and went on to have two more wonderful daughters. I joke that the 20-year gap between my oldest and youngest is because I “spaced my husbands.”
At Dickstein Shapiro, we recognize that work-life balance is a cornerstone for success. In recent years, law firms have made progress in advancing and retaining talented women but still have work to do in terms of ensuring that women attain leadership roles. Women’s leadership initiative, which I head in our D.C. office, recognizes the importance of retaining and promoting women. The program seeks to provide women with the necessary tools to define their own success and reach their professional goals. Building relationships between women partners and associates is a key aspect of our program.
My unconventional career path has been guided by the support of family, friends, and great mentors, as well as a work environment that made it possible for me to succeed. In return, I try to mentor the young women at my firm. With 30 years of child rearing behind me, and many more to go, I’ve become an expert at juggling my personal and professional roles. Although meeting the day-to-day demands hasn’t been easy, the rewards have been extraordinary.
To succeed, you must commit yourself to achieving your heart’s desire. Remember, though, that you don’t have to go it alone. Working together, we can and will achieve more than we can accomplish separately.