The role I have at Edward Jones is unlike any I’ve had before in my career. I am a senior member of the employment legal team, but my primary business partner is the Edward Jones division that is most directly responsible for all things affecting our 45,000 associates in the field (financial advisors and branch office administrators at our 18,000 locations nationwide).
I am the primary legal partner for the majority of issues arising out of that division. Some of the responsibilities are familiar employment topics—talent acquisition, diversity, equity, and inclusion, performance management, etc.— but it’s much broader than just employment. I also work on regulatory, real estate, marketing, and privacy issues, among others.
There are several. I get to work with some pretty talented lawyers, who I learn from every day and who make the day-to-day work even more enjoyable, even when the stakes are high or a global pandemic causes mass disruption. Additionally, the chance to contribute more broadly, and not just as an employment subject-matter expert, has been a fantastic development opportunity.
When I first started supporting this division, they hadn’t previously had dedicated legal support and weren’t entirely sure how to leverage a legal partnership to accelerate and facilitate business goals. In the three-and-a-half years I’ve been supporting the division, the legal-business partnership has come such a long way. I’ve developed deep, trusting relationships with many senior firm leaders and cemented the partnership.
Absolutely. It’s hard to name just one, but an experience that comes immediately to mind involved Joe Leghorn, a litigation partner I worked with while at NP. We had an oral argument scheduled before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. On the morning of the argument, Joe asked me to come in super early. When I got to the office, the halls were deserted, and the offices were dark, but I could see light and hear music coming from Joe’s office. As I entered the office, I realized that Joe was blaring Bruce Springsteen as he prepared to march in to court and make the argument.
I’ll remember this moment forever because it reminded me the practice of law can also be fun. More importantly, Joe treated me as a colleague and peer and not a subordinate. He gave me tremendous opportunities to lead important work—and be part of a First Circuit oral argument for which I had contributed significantly to the briefing and preparation—as a very junior lawyer. Development of junior lawyers, especially women, is my passion. Joe modeled what advocating for and developing younger lawyers could look like.
My experience at NP was the catalyst for my entire career arc. Certainly, I had the opportunity to learn from and work with terrific lawyers, many of whom are still at NP: Jason Kravitz, Ruth Silman, Stacie Collier, Chris Keefe, and plenty of others.
Much of my work was in white-collar criminal in- vestigations at a time when electronic discovery was brand new. I got a crash course in all things eDiscovery. When I moved back to Oklahoma, I was one of few attorneys at my firm who had had significant experience in that area. I continued to develop a niche expertise, which made me attractive to Walmart, where I had my first in-house opportunity as an eDiscovery lawyer on the litigation team.
At Walmart, I had the opportunity to try on four very different roles in nine years, inside and outside of legal, and I discovered how much I enjoy work that directly impacts the associates and culture of a global organization, which led me to where I am today. It all started with NP!
I just celebrated my 21st anniversary with my husband, who was in Boston with me and was part of the extended NP family. We have two spectacular ginger-headed kiddos: Mallory, age 9, and Grant, age 11.
Professionally, I have the privilege to serve as president-elect of the National Association of Women Lawyers, and I will begin a one-year term as president in July. Our group has 6,000 members committed to supporting women lawyers with leadership and skill development and advancement to equity partnership. We also advocate for women’s issues under the law, including support for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment.
There are many former colleagues and friends that I have lost touch with and with whom I would love to reconnect—Chris Allen, Maia Harris, Melissa Tearney, and Joe Leghorn, among others. We also had a very close summer associate class in the Boston office. I’m in touch with a couple of them, but I’d love to catch up with the others. Mostly, I’m just very excited that NP is evolving its alumni outreach program. It’s a great way to enhance current relationships and form new ones. There are also significant legal and business benefits—strong alumni networks can help you get and make referrals, find counsel in a particular area, and direct work to attorneys who you know will do a great job.
I love to attend baseball games in various cities, and I’ll travel almost anywhere to cheer on my Boston Red Sox! I’m also a Peloton groupie and spend a lot of time riding the bike or trying pilates, yoga, strength, or meditation classes. (Peloton is another great way to potentially connect with NP alumni!)
Also, I used to be an avid reader, and with our extra time at home these days, I’ve gotten back into it. I stay connected with friends via a virtual book club. Two of the best books I’ve read recently are “A Promised Land” by Barack Obama and “The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue” by V.E. Schwab.
I volunteer in a variety of roles with Alpha Chi Omega (AXO), my collegiate sorority. AXO is dedicated to the development of “Real. Strong. Women.” and also focuses on eradicating domestic violence and reminding others that “love shouldn’t hurt.”
In recent years, AXO has given me tremendous opportunities to develop young collegiate women into leadership roles and teach them skills that will be critical as they pursue post-collegiate careers. By participating in AXO, I have been able to connect with inspiring alumnae across the country, including current and former political leaders, super savvy businesswomen, cancer survivors, leaders of philanthropic foundations, medical and legal professionals, and many others. We also help young women pursue philanthropic passions and help establish new chapters of AXO on campuses such as Northeastern University.