To get people to know me inside my firm, the first thing I did was hit the road. I visited our offices and made presentations over lunch. I got to know partners across the firm, so that when their clients had a problem, they would know I was available. As a securities-regulatory lawyer, I attended corporate retreats, because the corporate group was often the first to learn that there was a problem in a company.
When I became chair-elect last December, I hit the road again. I have now visited each of Bryan Cave’s 25 offices on a listening tour. In my current role, listening is at least as important as making presentations. The lawyers need to know that I care about what they want, and that I support them. I have been fortunate to host quite a few events in my new loft in St. Louis. Inviting my colleagues to my home and celebrating their successes is one of the best ways for us to get to know each other.
Outside the firm, I have invested considerable time in developing a personal brand, and have been encouraging my partners here (and would encourage other women) to do the same. It’s important to put yourself out there as a thought leader. I have always made time to speak on panels; I chaired the Securities Enforcement Subcommittee of the Business Law Section of the American Bar Association for several years. I look at the variety of tools we have–blogs, articles, speeches, industry association leadership roles, webinars–as effective ways to build a personal brand. I always stress that personal branding is not meant to replace teamwork and collaboration, but to complement it.
On Finding Success and Staying Competitive
To succeed as a lawyer, you need to build relationships of trust and confidence, and be an expert in your field. Your clients need to believe that you care about them and can help them handle their toughest challenges. Building those kinds of relationships takes years. You need to stay in touch with friends from college and law school and take time to learn your clients’ industries and businesses. When your clients call you to brainstorm about problems that go beyond any issue you’ve handled before, it’s a sign they value you and that you’re going to be successful.
On Facing Challenges
The hardest challenge I’ve faced is juggling being a lawyer and a mom. When my first daughter was born, the SEC granted me a four-day workweek. I think people should be able to advance their careers while raising children in a manner that works for them. The shorter week made me more efficient—my branch brought in more cases than any other while I was branch chief. You need not sacrifice hard work or client service to have a culture that supports families. This is a culture we already have at Bryan Cave, and one I hope to deepen as Chair.