The Compassionate Lawyer
When I graduated from law school more than 35 years ago, I had to learn to thrive in a male-dominated profession where aggression and competition were the norm. I was valued by billable hours and my courtroom “wins,” even if my client was worse for the wear at the end of their case. I was unhappy, perpetually anxious and stressed. I found myself wondering if I had chosen the wrong profession.
Ultimately, I learned I could pursue justice through being a compassionate problem solver. I courageously identified myself as a peacemaker, using methods of resolution outside the courtroom. I helped my clients find a resolution to their legal issues while healing their lives. Through my skills in negotiation, mediation, emotional intelligence and compassion, I was able to celebrate the qualities that defined me as a woman lawyer instead of trying to conform or “act like a man” to get results.
I found joy and fulfillment in my work and reconnected with the very reason for going to law school in the first place — to “help people.”
Some colleagues tried to discourage me, saying I wasn’t a “real” lawyer. I forged ahead as a renegade in the legal profession calling for change. I began speaking, teaching and writing about my methods and vision, culminating in my 2014 book “The Compassionate Lawyer”.
Now I am a recognized leader in the field and a successful practicing attorney. My Alma Mater, Drake University Law School, recognized me as Alumna of the Year in 2015 for my innovation and leadership.
The skills and methods of leadership I teach are equally applicable to leaders in all fields of endeavor. My primary mission now is to share compassionate leadership principles to others so that together, we can build a healthier society.