I believe very much in “servant leadership”—share power, put the needs of others first, and help people develop and perform at the highest level possible. This philosophy led me to leadership roles within our community—as the founder of a local anti-bullying organization; the First Lady of Phoenix, while my husband Greg serves as mayor; past-president of the Women’s Metropolitan Arts Council; a graduate of Valley Leadership; and a faculty member at Arizona State University’s College of Law. Getting active, and remaining active in one’s community is the single most impactful way to stand out. Take part in something that moves you personally, and your passion will make it impossible for you not to stand out.
Taking on the role office managing partner at Quarles & Brady was not something I actively sought. However, in addition to my community engagement, I had served as the loss prevention partner and ethics chair for the office since 2009. As you can imagine, that role meant taking on sensitive subjects with coworkers and required a great deal of trust. I took great pride in handling each issue in a discreet and professional manner. The trust I earned from my colleagues, and my work in the community, naturally led to a discussion of the managing partner role last summer.
As I revisited the issue over and over, it became clear that all of my work, both inside and outside the organization, put me in a unique position to help our firm grow at this particular time. Since officially taking the role of office managing partner on January 1, 2014, I haven’t looked back.
On Finding Success and Staying Competitive
Success depends on your unwavering dedication to continuously improving your knowledge and skills as an attorney, while staying committed to clients’ needs. You must always remain proactively engaged, thereby being able to anticipate the wants and needs of our clients.
On the Importance of Role Models and Mentors
An important person for me was Andy Sherwood, who was not just a partner at Quarles & Brady, but my mentor and champion. He made sure I had meaningful legal work, so I could learn my craft, and advocated for me. He was invested in my success and made sure I received recognition for my achievements. Andy walked me through every step in the process of becoming a partner and helped me position myself to take on that responsibility successfully.
Nicole’s Advice to Young Women Starting Careers
Nothing exciting happens in one’s comfort zone. Build a reputation for thinking and living outside that zone, and for taking on challenges and extra work. Then, jealously guard that it, because once your reputation is out there, it is hard to change minds.