What’s the best lesson you learned practicing law?
Ask meaningful questions, listen carefully to what is important, and only then propose a path forward. I am a practicing lawyer, professor of negotiations, and leadership coach. These experiences have taught me that successful strategies rely on a clear and complete understanding of people, their perspectives, and the objective facts.
What’s the biggest challenge women lawyers face and how have you surmounted that challenge?
Educators know the importance of giving children both “mirrors” and “windows.” Mirrors reflect your own experience and identity; windows provide a view into different experiences and perspectives. I have seen many examples of men succeeding at the highest levels, but vastly fewer models for how to do that authentically as a woman. I value my male colleagues (windows), vigorously pursue women mentors (mirrors); and blaze my own trail as a mirror and window for others.
How would your peers describe your impact on the profession?
That I have a dogged passion for raising awareness about the importance of cultivating leadership at all levels of seniority. I am known as a forceful litigator who brings a unique mindfulness to my practice. Law school teaches us to emphasize critical thinking and advocacy at the expense of developing skills essential to building teams and leading with vision. That creates a sub-optimal imbalance, which I am working to change. I provide leadership coaching to younger partners and associates as part of this mission. Leaders must be clear and decisive + compassionate and curious + able to hold multiple perspectives simultaneously. It is never too early or too late to cultivate these skills; without them, you give away your ability to influence and inspire.
Answers submitted by Michael Gleeson (on behalf of Betsy Miller).