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At a recent Jenner & Block Women’s Forum event, a panel of four Jenner & Block women attorneys representing law school graduating classes from the last four decades shared their perspectives on successfully managing life as an attorney at a large law firm. Partner Traci M. Braun and Of Counsel Ruth A. Schoenmeyer organized and moderated the event.
"Working at a large firm is demanding, but it is also very rewarding and offers a great deal of independence and flexibility," said Partner Carla J. Rozycki, who is Co-Chair of the Firm’s Labor and Employment Practice and has spent over 29 years working at large firms.
Partner Gail H. Morse, who serves as Chair of Jenner & Block’s State and Local Tax Practice and has had prior experience in a government agency and at smaller firms, discussed her satisfaction with finding a place that allows her to do challenging, high stakes work and also provides her with the opportunity to be actively involved in various nonprofit and political organizations.
Associate Sandi J. Toll, who graduated from law school in 2002, noted that when associates are attempting to find ways to achieve a manageable work-life balance, they need to work with their partners and mentors to develop solutions that will have a positive result for everyone involved. Ms. Toll noted that "both sides need to be receptive to new ideas and be willing to listen to all perspectives."
Partner Mary C. Downie, a member of the Firm’s Private Client Practice, reflected on her experience balancing client life with family demands. “You can make a law firm life work for you – even with young kids and even as a single parent. No matter where you are, it takes a lot of creativity and prioritizing.”
The panelists also indicated that support from others – both within and outside of the firm – is critical to maintaining a successful career, and also stressed the importance of utilizing those support systems in times of need.
For example, Ms. Rozycki suggested that "all attorneys have times in their lives when they are experiencing personal issues which make it difficult to balance professional and personal demands." She advised that "attorneys should recognize these situations, and confer with firm management to reach an appropriate compromise before client service or professional obligations are adversely impacted."
Jenner & Block sponsors the Women’s Forum, Co-Chaired by Partners Jill Sugar Factor and E. Lynn Grayson, to foster opportunities for professional, social and personal growth for women attorneys and communicate the Firm’s strong commitment to their success.