Pay it forward: Women should help other women get in the game but women have to speak up once they get there
Reaching back and paying forward the many favors that others gave you as you journeyed throughout your career is critically important whether you are male or female. As to the favors afforded to me by other women who broke barriers before I entered the profession, I consider raising the profiles of other women and creating opportunities for them to shine are the least I can do to pay my favors forward. For example, I selected an all-female team of McDonald Carano litigation attorneys who served as Nevada counsel in a national bellwether case which was tried in October- November 2022 resulting in a $62.65 million jury verdict for our client, plus attorneys fees and costs. I had a trial in February 2023 with an all-female trial team and another trial is scheduled for September 2023 with an all-female trial team.
It is imperative for women on an individual basis to find their voice and put themselves in the game, rather than waiting for someone else to do it for them. Stand at the front or in the middle of the room rather than at its edges. When it comes time to sit, make sure you do so at the grownups’ table. When you speak, do so confidently, and do not allow others to speak over you. And then make sure you have something to say.
Professional success depends on achievements you make for others, not yourself. Sometimes that means sacrificing your personal feelings or personal goals. I served nine years on the Nevada State Athletic Commission and was its first woman to become chair. The NSAC regulates professional unarmed combat, such as boxing, kickboxing and mixed martial arts. It was a public service function for which you receive no compensation. Its principal function is to protect the health and safety of athletes who participate in those sports. It was a responsibility I took very seriously. Some of my rulings discharging that responsibility were not popular, but I never forgot my core function was to protect the athletes and not myself.
My last piece of advice as trite as it may seem is to find something you love doing. Competition is the common denominator in all aspects of my life. Being the middle child in a family of 13 – six brothers, six sisters, six older, and six younger – my competitive instincts were fine-tuned at an early age. As a competitor I am blessed that the law, in particular litigation, found me. After 35 years I continue to genuinely love what I do, and my proudest achievements continue to be when a new or existing client calls to say they need my help.