Celebrating Women: Beyond Legal Advice
Sharing what we wish we knew for Women’s History Month, Vol. 3
Since the COVID-19 pandemic has shaken up nearly every aspect of our lives, a lot of advice is floating around about how to adjust to the “new normal.” You can take or leave what you will, but we’re going to give ourselves a break and adhere to the guidance to “be kinder to yourself” and post our third installment of Celebrating Women: Beyond Legal Advice in April (instead of our targeted publish goal of March for International Women's Month).
In what feels like forever ago, we interviewed some incredibly talented women at Schwabe and from our community. In anticipation of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, we sat down with these women and asked, “What advice would you give your younger self?”
March and Women’s History Month might be over, but the replies we received are timeless. Please keep reading to hear what honest, endearing, and helpful advice our network of awesome women had to offer.
Jennifer Campbell, Shareholder and Manufacturing, Distribution and Retail Industry Group Leader
“Don’t rush to any finish line, and don’t wish away a single day. Try to be patient with yourself and others around you. Search for your voice—it’ll make you happier to be yourself even if you don’t fit in. Be ok with failure—it doesn’t mean you are a failure, it means that you aren’t taking the easy way out. Be ok with being ok. Don’t search for perfection—it will make you miserable and humans aren’t perfect. Make decisions that will make you proud later. And if you are waiting for the day ‘when I’ll get my shit together,’ don’t bother. It’s more fun having your shit not completely together.”
Jen Warner, Vice President for Legal, Columbia Sportswear
“I’ve been asked this before and I’ll say it again: buckle up, kiddo, because you’ll be amazed at how beautiful life is going to be.”
Aukjen Ingraham, Transportation, Ports and Maritime Shareholder
“I don’t think you could have told me a whole lot as a young lawyer, and I’m glad I didn’t listen to most of it. You will receive a lot of advice for how to do things, some good and some bad. Many will tell you it’s too hard and expect you to quit. Find your own way. Some of life’s experiences you cannot begin to imagine will shape the lawyer you become. You will learn a hell of a lot about advocacy in the more than seven months you spend with your youngest child in the NICU and PICU.”
Vanessa Sturgeon, President, TMT Development
“Be kinder to yourself and to others … and relax. Everything is going to end up the way it should.”
Brenna Legaard, Technology Industry Group Shareholder
“You can be it even if you can’t see it. Early in my career, there was a lot of emphasis on the need for women role models and mentors in tech to pave the way for younger women. That was absolutely true then, and it remains true today. But I was working on becoming a world-class patent strategist and intellectual property litigator, and female role models and mentors were hard to find, especially in law firms. I was blessed with some amazing male mentors, clients who believed in me, and the fortitude and drive to seize the opportunities that came my way. Looking back, I’d tell my younger self that the only difference between getting off track and paving the way is where you end up.”
Carey Smith, Director of Community Relations, Lease Crutcher Lewis
“Hello Younger Self, I miss you. You are doing a great job with your life so far: having fun, working hard in school, being kind to others, and being strong. One thing to consider is that everyone needs help from time to time. Think about asking for help occasionally when you get stuck on something. It is tempting to power through things because after all, you are so tough. But people like to help and it can often strengthen a relationship and improve an outcome. Go ahead and ask Mrs. Levinthal (10th grade medieval history teacher) about your confusion over all those troops in all those battles. She seems stern, but she actually would love to help you, and then you will do better on those tests and papers. Plus, I think you will find that you actually like her.”
Now, more than ever, it’s important to work together and help each other out. At Schwabe, we are thankful to all the women who participated in our Beyond Legal Advice project and offered some truly useful insight.