Women Lawyers and the Workplace: Rights, Trends, Alternatives
Are you planning a family? Or maybe you employ someone who needs to take extended leave to assist a family member. Do you know your workplace rights? Join us in October as we explore the Family and Medical Leave Act, new trends in law practice management and the retention of women lawyers, and tips for balancing your law practice with family life. We’ll talk to lawyers from different walks of live and hear “real world” examples of women lawyers who found success in balancing work and family. Our panel will consist of several women lawyers, including Julie Springer, employment attorney with Scott, Douglass & McConnico, speaking on the laws governing family leave; Jennifer Poppe, attorney with Vinson & Elkins, speaking on V&E’s “Women’s Initiative” in law practice management; Linda Shaunessey of the Office of the Attorney General, and Erin Kitchen, Human Resources Counsel for Dell. We have submitted this course for CLE approval. Please note that our October meeting will be on an unusual date and room: TUESDAY, October 17, 2006 at 11:45 in Room 202.
From the President
￼￼￼In my job as a legal recruiter, I speak with countless attorneys struggling with the same issue: how to balance a legal career with family life. One attorney was reentering the job market after having taken a year-long sabbatical from work in order to care for a parent with cancer. It had been a tough road and now, while she was ready to work hard, she needed help convincing employers that the gap in her resume was not a problem. Another candidate was on her second maternity leave from a large firm that was pressuring her to work longer hours than her current reduced hours arrangement. She was curious about part-time options with other law firms or in-house opportunities. This attorney got a terrific part-time offer with another large law firm but ended up deciding that the right thing for her and her family was for her to be a stay-at-home mom.
The legal profession seems slower than some others in effectively addressing work/life balance issues and the resulting attorney attrition. Attrition hurts employers not only in the pocketbook, but also in employee morale, diversity, and quality and efficiency of service. Legal employers often cite client or company service expectations and the financial bottom-line as a reason for rejecting proposals for sabbaticals or alternative work arrangements (such as reduced hours, telecommuting or job sharing). Communication about the law as well as the successes and struggles of people dealing with family issues and creative work schedules can empower us to make stronger, more workable proposals going forward, thereby enriching our work environments and family life. This is why I am especially excited about this month’s membership meeting on Tuesday, October 17th. TCWLA has assembled a terrific panel of speakers who will be able to shed some light from various perspectives on the Family and Medical Leave Act and the options facing attorneys who are juggling
work and life with a new baby, an unexpected illness, or aging parents. Please join us and bring your questions and stories to share. I am also looking forward to our TCWLA walks every Tuesday in October at 6:00 p.m. This is part of our Race for the Cure “training” but you can join us for our evening walks even if you don’t plan on signing up for the Race. I hope to see a lot of members at our walks who may not normally join us for our lunch meetings due to scheduling conflicts. Don’t be shy — please join us. This is a great way for us to get to know each other (if we aren’t too out of breath). On October 26th, we will be getting to know women law students from UT Law (and potentially future co-workers) at a mixer at Brenda Collier’s house. We do this every year and it is always a lot of fun. Finally, SIGN UP NOW to save your seat at our November 2nd CLE seminar! More details are in this newsletter. See you soon!
September Luncheon Recap:
At our September luncheon, members were treated to one hour of an entertaining (and eye-opening) ethics CLE seminar presented by Nickie Hyde Freedman of Legally Large. Nickie spoke on the pitfalls of leaving legal staff to their own devices without providing adequate ethics training or supervision. And a lucky new TCWLA member won a $500 gift certificate for an additional CLE hosted by Legally Large!
TCWLA Member Profile: Heather Davies Bernard
￼Practice Area: Interestareas: civil litigation, appellate, estate planning
Employer: Licensed in May, 2006; actively engaged in career search
Education: A native of the Eastern Shore of Maryland, I earned my undergraduate degree from Bates College, in Lewiston, Maine. As an English major, I spent my junior year in Galway, Ireland.
After college, I enjoyed a career in public relations. During that time,I had the honor of serving as press secretary to the Governor of Maine.
I also worked for Burson-Marsteller in San Francisco, where I led client teams in developing strategic marketing initiatives.
Mycareerpathultimatelyledmetolawschool: IgraduatedfromtheAmerican University Washington College of Law, in Washington, DC, in May 2005. During that time, I appeared before the U.S. Tax Court as an attorney in the Federal Tax Clinic, and clerked for a criminal trial judge in Maryland.
Family: My husband, Durel, and I celebrate our one-year anniversary this month. We were married in Austin last October, and are thrilled to be back in our favorite city after enjoying several years in Washington, DC. Our border collie puppy, Pablo, is the newest addition to our family.
Loves to Do: I collect vintage cookbooks and am always trying new recipes. I am currently preparing for the upcoming Race for the Cure – and working on my distance running.
Tidbits: I am thrilled to be a member of TCWLA; I truly enjoy the friendliness and camaraderie of the organization. I am also enjoying my new role as public relations volunteer for The Susan G. Komen Foundation’s Austin chapter.
Meet Your Board: Jessica Warren
Practice Area/Employer: I left the formal practice of law last March to become a Vice President in the Trust Department at Bank of America. In my former life as a practicing attorney, I worked in a wide range of areas. I started out in a small boutique firm in Houston that concentrated on Products Liability Defense Litigation. Then I moved to Austin and practiced Workers’ Compensation and General Defense Litigation. Eventually I transitioned to Estate Planning and Probate law before making the switch to Trust Officer.
Education: I was raised in Laredo, Texas where I attended Catholic school from kindergarten to 12th grade. I started at Blessed Sacrament, then went to Ursuline Academy, and finally St. Augustine High School. After high school I was ready to spread my wings and put some
distance between my parents and me, so I went to Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA. A month after getting there, we experienced a 6.9 earthquake (October 1989). The earthquake made me homesick and was hard on my parents who worried that I, along with the rest of the California, would fall into the Pacific. When I came home for the summer, my dad convinced me to transfer to the University of Texas for my sophomore year. (He bribed me with a car.) I enrolled in the University’s Plan II Program, which is a Liberal Arts degree with an emphasis on writing, and really loved it. I decided to keep the car and graduated from UT in 1992.
After graduation, I knew I wasn’t quite ready to enter the workforce, so I thought about business school and law school. I eventually chose Baylor Law School. It turned out to be a great decision for me. Baylor Law has a small student body where I felt I could really get involved. I got to know my fellow students and professors well. I also met my husband there.
Family: I have two mostly sweet boys who are 4 (Ethan) and 2 (Jonah). Ethan is a budding artist. He loves to make Froot Loop necklaces and he can entertain himself for hours by drawing and painting on a plastic easel we got him for his birthday. He has strict requirements; however, about his artistic environment. No one is permitted to see his creations before they are finished and there are severe consequences for anyone who violates this condition. As a punishment, you will not be allowed to enjoy the beauty of the completed work. Jonah prefers to watch Power Rangers and wrestle the other kids at his daycare down to the ground. As you can imagine, the other mothers at daycare are quite fond of our family. And last but not least, I am lucky to have a wonderful husband who loves to cook, occasionally vacuums, and is patient with us all.
Loves to Do: I don’t have many hobbies that I actually practice, but I have lots of hobbies that I fantasize about. I love Poker, Books, and Music. I wish I had more time to devote to all of them. I used to love a good glass of scotch, but I have since found that a glass of scotch in the evening is incompatible with an early rising toddler in the morning, especially when combined with the slowing metabolism of a thirty-something.
Tidbits: I can solve the Rubik’s cube. I am also this year’s treasurer and I am really looking forward to greater involvement in this wonderful organization and meeting more of its fabulous members.