In celebration of Women’s History Month, The Chicago Bar Association interviewed several all-stars from our March 6th Working Women’s Legal Summit about the issues facing women in the legal profession today and some secrets to their success. We will close out the month with a series of posts featuring these interviews.
Below is our featured interview with Anita Alvarez, a managing director with Alvarez & Marsal Disputes & Investigations in Chicago and former Cook County State’s Attorney.
Q: What is the most pressing issue facing women in the law today?
A: I think the most pressing issue for women in law today is still the lack of female representation in leadership roles. Unfortunately, gender stereotypes still exist. While we have seen an increase in the number of women entering the legal profession, women tend to get labeled as being too aggressive or too weak. This stereotyping plays into decisions made by firms as well as government agencies, in regards to advancement.
Q: What is one thing a mentor has helped you learn in the course of your career that you would like to pass on to other women as they navigate the legal profession?
A: Although it’s great for women to have women mentors, there are males who fill that role as well. For me, I had two mentors who happened to both be males. Both recognized my talents and most importantly gave me opportunities. I think that is the most important. We as females need to give other females more opportunities to shine. Think of that female to fill a role that some might think was always meant for a male.
Q: What is one thing you do to achieve a sense of balance between your professional and personal life?
A: I don’t believe there is ever a perfect balance, but as a mother of four, I always said ‘the homework always got done”—-albeit at 11 pm at night! As working moms we have to accept the fact that there will be times that we can’t make the soccer game, or the hockey game of the recital, but as long as you don’t beat yourself up about that, you will cherish all the moments you share with your children. A healthy, happy mom is what your children need and they will love you more for it!