Posts

January 2022 Spotlight on Flex

Our Spotlight on Flex showcases professionals from member organizations who exemplify personal and professional success while working a flexible schedule. Their stories illustrate the long-term benefits that flexible schedules offer to both individuals and organizations.

For our January 2022 Spotlight on Flex we are pleased to share insights from Jessamine Lee, Shareholder, Wolf, Greenfield & Sacks, P.C.

Diversity & Flexibility Alliance: How have you made flexibility a priority and a success with your schedule? How has the firm and/or your clients contributed to this?

Jessamine Lee: Flexibility has been a key to my success at Wolf Greenfield.  After coming back to work from having my first child 11 years ago, I went on an 80% schedule. I was a junior associate at the time. I stayed on an 80-90% schedule through having my second child three years later and then becoming Counsel and a Shareholder at the firm.  During that same time, I also had a flexible arrangement in which I worked remotely twice a week.  The firm was supportive of my requests and made it possible for me to have this alternative work arrangement during a time when it was not common to do so.  I had a lot of help from my colleagues. For example, at times when my workload was too high, I was able to transfer work to other colleagues who had more bandwidth at the time.  This is a testament to Wolf Greenfield’s collegiality and culture – we work as a team.  I also set boundaries, made expectations clear to both my colleagues and clients as to when I was available, and inquired about firm and client expectations as well.  Of course, there were times when urgent projects needed to get done, but for the most part everyone was respectful of these boundaries and I was able to meet the expectations of those I worked with.

 

December 2021 Spotlight on Flex

Our Spotlight on Flex showcases professionals from member organizations who exemplify personal and professional success while working a flexible schedule. Their stories illustrate the long-term benefits that flexible schedules offer to both individuals and organizations.

For our December 2021 Spotlight on Flex we are pleased to share insights from Katelyn Miller, Partner, Seyfarth Shaw.

 

Diversity & Flexibility Alliance: How have you made flexibility a priority and a success with your schedule? How has the firm and/or your clients contributed to this?

Katelyn Miller: Upon returning from maternity leave after the birth of my first child in 2015, I transitioned to an alternative schedule.  I had wonderful role models at my prior firm who guided me through the process of requesting and moving to a flexible schedule.  When my daughter was one, I moved to Seyfarth.  After receiving an offer, I very nervously called the head of our Litigation Department and asked whether I could join the firm on an 80% schedule. Within hours, I received a response that Seyfarth would be happy to accommodate my schedule. It was clear from the beginning that in addition to providing exceptional client service, Seyfarth truly valued its team members and provided different opportunities and avenues for its professionals to succeed.

I have maintained my 80% schedule since joining Seyfarth, with the support of my department and firm leadership.  I prioritize my flexible schedule by clearly communicating with my colleagues and setting and managing expectations at the outset of a project or new piece of litigation. I also carefully consider my workload when taking on new matters to ensure that I can devote the requisite amount of time and attention given my alternative schedule. However, once I take on a new matter, I am 100% committed, regardless of my schedule.  I am fortunate to work with attorneys and clients who respect my time and arrangement, and who trust me to provide excellent client service and work product.

Litigation can be very tough and I obviously cannot control everything, like court-ordered deadlines and schedules, client emergencies or weeks-long out of town trials. But, I have worked very hard to maintain my flexible schedule since becoming a mom and am thrilled that Seyfarth has always and continues to support me.

November 2021 Spotlight on Flex

Our Spotlight on Flex showcases professionals from member organizations who exemplify personal and professional success while working a flexible schedule. Their stories illustrate the long-term benefits that flexible schedules offer to both individuals and organizations.

For our November 2021 Spotlight on Flex we are highlighting our 2021 Flex Success® Award honorees Liz Dillon, Partner and Franchise Practice Group Leader, Lathrop GPM LLP, and her client Iris Rosario, Senior Counsel, Choice Hotels, and Sarah Kuehnel, Partner, Ogletree Deakins, and her client Bonnie Smith, CEO of Studio B Entertainment.

These partners and their clients were recognized for their exceptional success while working a reduced hours schedule during our virtual annual conference, Reflect. Reimagine. Recalibrate. Paving the Way to Inclusive Flexibility, on November 3. Their careers clearly demonstrate that partners working reduced hours and remote schedules can provide exceptional client service when they have the support of and collaboration from clients and firm colleagues.

Liz Dillon, Partner, Lathrop GPM LLP

Lathrop Partner Liz Dillon’s flexible schedule generally includes working four days a week, allowing her to spend most Fridays with her family, other than two months of the year when her practice is particularly busy. As the leader of Lathrop’s Franchise & Distribution Practice Group, she oversees more than 30 lawyers and paralegals and has been recognized for her legal prowess in Chambers USA, Chambers Global, The Best Lawyers in America, “Legal Eagles” by Franchise Times and the International Who’s Who of Franchise Lawyers.  Under her leadership, the firm was named the “Best Franchise Law Firm” in the world by Global Franchise Magazine in 2021.

October 2021 Spotlight on Flex

Our Spotlight on Flex showcases professionals from member organizations who exemplify personal and professional success while working a flexible schedule. Their stories illustrate the long-term benefits that flexible schedules offer to both individuals and organizations.

For our October 2021 Spotlight on Flex we are pleased to share insights from Elise Attridge, Associate, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP.

Diversity & Flexibility Alliance: How have you made flexibility a priority and a success with your schedule? How has the firm and/or your clients contributed to this?

Elise Attridge: After my first child was born in 2016, I started working at an 80% reduced hour schedule. At that time, I had been a Litigation Associate at Morgan Lewis for five years.

When I first shared the news that I was pregnant to members of firm management, multiple people offered me the opportunity to work on a reduced schedule when I returned from maternity leave, which I was thrilled about because I’d heard of other working mothers taking this approach. And because the firm had raised it first, I felt extremely supported in the decision to work a reduced hours schedule.

I’ve been on that 80% arrangement ever since. It’s been about five years now and I’ve gone on to have two more children.

Right from the beginning, I received excellent advice from one of our litigation partners. Even though I planned to be in the office four days a week, she recommended that I have childcare available for all five days. I took that advice to heart and it really helped me ensure that I am able to be successful with my flexible schedule. My arrangement is that our nanny comes four days a week, and I target Monday as my day off to be with my children. But my nanny is available all five days if I need her to work, which sometimes I do.

While working four days a week is my goal, that is not always feasible, particularly as a litigation attorney because I have deadlines that are out of my control and unavoidable periods of heavy workloads.

So, I don’t measure the success of my reduced schedule on a weekly or even monthly basis. There are certainly some months where I work full-time hours.  Instead, I measure my reduced schedule on a yearly basis. I can then balance those periods of heavy workloads — for example, when I have depositions or a trial — with more time off at slower points in the year. It is a constant, and sometimes tricky, balancing act.

So far, however, because of my approach, I think I’ve been successful at having that work-life balance that works for me, my family, my firm and my clients.

The firm definitely has been giving me ongoing support during my flexible schedule. And in terms of my clients, I would guess that most, if not all, of my clients probably don’t even know that I work on a reduced schedule. It’s certainly not a secret. Even though I’m on a reduced schedule, once I’m on a case, I’m still 100% committed to delivering great legal work and exceptional client service. So that’s why calibrating my schedule on a yearly basis is so important, because there are times when I need to meet client needs, even if it’s on a Monday.

 

September 2021 Spotlight on Flex

Our Spotlight on Flex showcases professionals from member organizations who exemplify personal and professional success while working a flexible schedule. Their stories illustrate the long-term benefits that flexible schedules offer to both individuals and organizations.

For our September 2021 Spotlight on Flex we are pleased to share insights from Stephanie Salek, Associate, Hollingsworth LLP.

Diversity & Flexibility Alliance: How have you made flexibility a priority and a success with your schedule? How has the firm and/or your clients contributed to this?

Stephanie Salek: After my son was born in 2018 and I took maternity leave, I knew that I wanted to return to work on a reduced-hours schedule.  Hollingsworth said that it would work with me to craft a schedule that fit my needs, and offered several different models of flex time, including a reduced-hours policy in which attorneys can work fewer hours overall at times convenient for them, and a part-time schedule for those who need a set schedule with defined hours of work.  Because my husband’s work schedule is less predictable, I wanted to have a defined work schedule for childcare purposes.  So I decided to try a part-time schedule in which I have set hours and leave at 5:30 pm three days per week, and work remotely 1 day per week.

It has worked out wonderfully.  For my part, I make sure to frontload work on projects by getting new projects off the ground and running immediately, and making a point of checking in on any delegated portions of a project early and often.  And because I am off on Fridays to care for my son, I make sure to do a full status check of each project every Thursday before signing off, so that projects continue progressing while I am offline.  I am grateful that my firm has been so supportive of this flex schedule, and I think our joint commitment to making it work is the reason for its success over the past 2.5 years.

 

August 2021 Spotlight on Flex

Our Spotlight on Flex showcases professionals from member organizations who exemplify personal and professional success while working a flexible schedule. Their stories illustrate the long-term benefits that flexible schedules offer to both individuals and organizations.

For our August 2021 Spotlight on Flex we are pleased to share insights from Roberta Granadier, Of Counsel, at Dickinson Wright.

 

Diversity & Flexibility Alliance: How have you made flexibility a priority and a success with your schedule? How have the firm and/or your clients contributed to this?

Roberta Granadier: I have been working a reduced schedule for more than thirty years since my first child was born. I intentionally made my work schedule Monday through Thursday to enable me to participate in school activities for my kids when they were younger.  It was also easier for my clients and colleagues to know which days I would be in the office.  Clients have known throughout my career that I work a reduced hours schedule, but I’ve always ensured that they had access to my cell phone number and could reach me in case of emergency. The key for me has been being as responsive and prompt as possible with all of my clients. . In turn, my clients have respected my schedule and have been very apologetic on those times when they’ve needed to reach me on a Friday.

Generally, I have found that law firms are enlightened about reduced work schedules. Part of the reason I have been able to find success in working a flexible schedule is that I simultaneously always provide superior client services while also having a niche legal specialty in ERISA. The combination of having a unique specialty and being indispensable to clients and firms has really allowed me to thrive.

 

DFA: How has working flexibly made your career more sustainable and contributed to business development opportunities?

RG: Working flexibly has made my career more sustainable because I can successfully juggle my work responsibilities with other priorities that are important to me, such as my family, community involvement, and nonprofit activities. These non-work activities have also contributed to business development opportunities.  I continue to be energized by my practice specialty and teamwork with colleagues. 

 

DFA: Looking back, would you do anything differently, or what would you tell your first year associate self?

RG: One thing I would tell myself, and that I would tell anyone considering a flexible work schedule, is to be very candid and specific about your goals and expectations. Personally, I’ve always been up-front with my firms and my clients about when and how many hours I expected to be working. Obviously, this can fluctuate over time based on a number of factors, but I think it is important to remain intentional about my schedule. This candidness has been useful to me in my career, and I have been able to maintain a flexible schedule with multiple firms as a result.

 

DFA: How do you recharge, and how do you pay it forward?

RG: Aside from my family and my community involvement outside of work, I genuinely get recharged by feeling like I am providing value to my firm, my colleagues, and my clients. I recognize that I am an expert in an area of the law that most people don’t know much about, so I enjoy and have benefited from being able to explain complex law in a way that others can understand. For my clients in particular, I am providing them an overview of risks and options that help them make the most informed decisions for their organizations.

As it relates to paying it forward, I’ve always found it important to describe my schedule to other attorneys, especially younger women, who might also be interested in working reduced hours. I’m very open about how my career has developed, and I enjoy sharing with other attorneys how you can have a very successful career with a flexible schedule. Over the years I have also enjoyed participating in recruiting events at our feeder law schools to talk about the arc of my career.

 

DFA: How has the pandemic impacted your flexible working schedule?

RG: I have enjoyed working from home and it is actually easier for me to be more productive with my time.  Especially earlier in the pandemic when a  Saturday seemed the same as a Tuesday, and because I was very busy, I ultimately ended up billing more than previously. This is a good problem to have! Although I do miss seeing my colleagues, it has been easy to connect through Zoom meetings and occasional walks with local colleagues. 

Dickinson Wright’s remote work policy has also allowed me to spend a bit more time doing other things that are important to me. That said, the firm has always allowed attorneys to work flexibly with minimal oversight. This is largely a feature of how the firm trusts its attorneys: we’ve always had a significant amount of professional autonomy. This amount of trust makes Dickinson Wright a very healthy place to practice law and a great place to do so on a flexible work schedule.

 

 

Our Spotlight on Flex showcases professionals from member organizations who exemplify personal and professional success while working a flexible schedule. Their stories illustrate the long-term benefits that flexible schedules offer to both individuals and organizations.

July 2021 Spotlight on Flex

For our July Spotlight on Flex, we’re pleased to highlight Diane Crabtree, Counsel, in Bracewell’s Houston office.

 

Diversity & Flexibility Alliance: How have you made flexibility a priority and a success with your schedule? How has the firm and/or your clients contributed to this?

Diane Crabtree: I began working at Bracewell in the litigation group after graduating from law school in 2004.  My career path has been far from traditional at a big law firm.  After the birth of my first child in 2007, I initially took a leave of absence to stay home with my daughter.  Although I cherished this time at home, after a year I started to crave intellectual stimulation and decided to return to work.  I was thrilled when Bracewell welcomed me back and offered me several potential flexible arrangements.  I decided on a 75% reduced budget arrangement and maintained this schedule for several years.  After trying a couple of different schedules, I found that I prefer to work every day but to leave at 4 p.m. to be home for dinner and after-school events. 

Most clients don’t even realize that I work part-time on my schedule.  My son was born in 2010 and I was able to take an extended leave after his birth.  When my family moved farther outside of the city several years later, I decided to stay at home again while my kids were still young.  After three years away, I returned to Bracewell in 2017 on the same reduced-budget schedule.  Now that my kids are older, I have much more flexibility to work more hours when needed and then take extended time off.  I am thankful that my firm has been so supportive of my choices over the years and has allowed me to forge my own path.

Our Spotlight on Flex showcases professionals from member organizations who exemplify personal and professional success while working a flexible schedule. Their stories illustrate the long-term benefits that flexible schedules offer to both individuals and organizations.

June 2021 Spotlight on Flex

For our June Spotlight on Flex, we’re pleased to highlight Maryam Casbarro, Associate, Davis Wright Tremaine

Diversity & Flexibility Alliance: How have you made flexibility a priority and a success with your schedule? How have the firm and clients contributed to this?

Maryam Casbarro: I formally started working a flex schedule in January of this year. It was brought about by life circumstances. In October of 2019 I found out that my baby would be born with special needs. We anticipated that she would have significant medical needs going into 2020, but of course we didn’t anticipate there would also be a pandemic! So I had a conversation with the chair of my practice on what work would look like returning from maternity leave with my baby still in the hospital.

She said I could come back on whatever schedule worked for me, and the firm would be completely flexible with my hours. At that time, my schedule wasn’t formalized so I would just take on projects that my personal life allowed. Then in September of 2020 I decided to come back full time. There was a very stark difference between working a pseudo flex schedule without a formal agreement to working full time. It quickly became apparent that life had shifted and it was not realistic for me to maintain a full-time schedule.

I spoke to the partner who oversees flexible working schedules and she walked me through what life would look like on a formal reduced hour schedule and what other attorneys had done in the past. She talked me through the process and explained that people had become partner on a reduced-hours schedule. That was something that was important to me because I didn’t want my career to be derailed by trying to accommodate the realities of my new life. So in January I formerly started to work an 80% reduced-hours schedule.

Our Spotlight on Flex showcases professionals from member organizations who exemplify personal and professional success while working a flexible schedule. Their stories illustrate the long-term benefits that flexible schedules offer to both individuals and organizations.

May 2021 Spotlight on Flex

For our May Spotlight on Flex, we’re pleased to highlight Abigail B. Molitor, Associate in the Chicago Office of Sidley Austin, LLP.

 

Diversity & Flexibility Alliance: How have you made flexibility a priority and a success with your schedule? How have the firm and/or clients contributed to this?

Abigail Molitor: I’ve worked a flexible schedule for nearly the entire time I’ve been at Sidley.  I had my first child a few months after starting at the firm, and I returned from parental leave to an 80% reduced hours schedule. I’ve maintained that same schedule in the years since and through the birth of my second child. Over that time, I’ve found that the key to success is to periodically review and adjust how I organize my schedule within that general 80% framework.  There have been times, particularly when my kids were very small, when it has been very important for me to manage the number of hours I worked in a day to accommodate other responsibilities.  There have been other times, as my kids have gotten a bit older, where I have greater capacity to dig into more intense periods of work, then balance out my hours with longer periods of time off. In either case, I try to be intentional and thoughtful about the demands of my cases and the needs of my family to figure out how best to fit those puzzle pieces together.  And, if I’ve learned anything in the past few years, the shape of the puzzle is constantly changing.

Sidley’s flexible work policies provided the foundation for me to create a schedule that works for me, and the partners in my group have truly committed to helping make that schedule successful in practice. Because I adopted a flexible schedule early in my career, I’ve worked closely with group leadership and key mentors to be thoughtful about the cases and work opportunities I take on to ensure that I develop necessary skills, management experience, and leadership opportunities to grow in my career over the long-term.

Our Spotlight on Flex showcases professionals from member organizations who exemplify personal and professional success while working a flexible schedule. Their stories illustrate the long-term benefits that flexible schedules offer to both individuals and organizations.

April 2021 Spotlight on Flex

For our April Spotlight on Flex, we’re pleased to highlight Margaux Trammell, Director of Professional Development, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck.

Diversity & Flexibility Alliance: Please tell us a little about your background. When did you begin working a reduced hours schedule? 

Margaux Trammell: I began my legal career in Switzerland before earning my LLM in American and comparative law and J.D. from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law in the U.S. I joined Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck over 15 years ago as a second-year corporate associate, where my practice focused on outside general counsel representation, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, corporate reorganizations and finance matters. I became a shareholder at the firm in due course shortly after welcoming my first child.

Prior to my maternity leave with my second son, I approached our co-managing partners and CEO at the time about potentially enrolling in our reduced-work schedule that nobody was taking advantage of at the time. During those discussions, I wanted to make sure they knew that even though I was going to be working reduced hours, I still wanted to be fully committed to the deals I was working on and to be involved in the success of the firm. I still wanted to take an active role, and wanted to make sure that my part-time status wouldn’t sideline my involvement in firm initiatives and client work.