Best Law Firms for Women: Interview with Nora Schweighart

As a sponsor of Working Mother Media’s Best Law Firms for Women event, Parker + Lynch Legal is proud to support these firms and the women who dedicate themselves to both their legal profession and their families. To help honor these incredible women, we interviewed female attorneys with some of the 2018 winners to get their perspective on being a working mother. This week, we’re featuring:

Why did you decide to become an attorney?

When I was young, I was convinced that I wanted to be an astronaut – but I realized early on that involved a lot of math and science. After determining that wasn’t going to pan out, I was steadfast on becoming a lawyer, like my father. Growing up, people would roll their eyes at me for “knowing” what I wanted to do at such a young age – but I knew what I was getting into!

What challenges have you faced as a woman in the legal field?

My biggest challenge has been the competing demands of my personal life and my career. I’ve always believed that nothing is more important than family, but it is also important for me to have a career and be successful. To make this possible I rely upon creating efficient processes for both work and home, strong teams and collaboration. I believe that effective communication goes a long way and that it’s critical in all aspects of both career and family.

What has been your greatest success, or what accomplishment are you most proud of, and why?

My greatest accomplishment or success is not so much a “work thing,” but I’m proud that I am able to provide for my family financially. I share that responsibility with my spouse, but could also do it independently if put in that position, and this something that I take great pride in.

In terms of work, I took a leap of faith (in myself) to join Faegre Baker Daniels from my previous firm to help build their brand and my practice. At times, it has been, and will be, a little scary but it’s a great place to be. I am able to do so many things that I couldn’t do previously and that has been exceptional for my career. I’m really proud of myself for taking this chance.

Why do you love working for Faegre Baker Daniels? How do they support women and their goals?

At Faegre Baker Daniels, collaboration is part of our core foundation. Not only does this lead to better client relationships, but it provides more opportunities for women to collaborate with colleagues across the firm. The firm also has systems in place for sharing credit and rewarding multiple individuals instead of just a select few. This provides significant visibility to women in the firm that they might not get elsewhere.

I also love the Women’s Forum for Achievement. The WFA is focused on career development for women and that has been refreshing. The WFA’s internal and external programming leads to business development opportunities with clients, which is fantastic! The WFA also builds a strong sense of community for practitioners who don’t always have an opportunity to work together.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to women struggling to balance their home life and their careers?

My one piece of advice to women is don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice. Women tend to think they have to go it alone, but if you ask for the help, your future self will thank you. There is support all around you – so utilize your support network. I had mentors, of course, but didn’t seek them out in the way that I should have. I do now.

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To Lateral or Not to Lateral – That is the Big Question

You have finally achieved the big goal! The goal of becoming a partner at your law firm. You have worked long hours, spent endless time on client development, lost sleep and questioned whether to stick with it or go in-house like many of your colleagues. All your hard work and time has paid off – but has it? You find yourself questioning whether your firm values the work you are bringing in and whether you would be happier or more profitable at another firm. What should you do?
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