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 Melody Cross, Vice President, Corporate Counsel, located in Prudential Private Capital’s Chicago office.
Q: What is the most pressing issue facing women in the law today?
A: Retention. We need to keep our senior women from leaving and get them into leadership roles. Same with diverse attorneys. We are letting people who can revolutionize our firms and our industry walk out the door, and it’s too easy to explain away an individual’s reasoning for a move – this is a pattern, a problem and we all lose as a result.
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: You won’t get what you don’t ask for. If you see something that could help build your career or help your job satisfaction, it is unlikely anyone is just going to hand that to you. I challenge you, as I was once challenged, to take one of those things floating around in the back of your mind and go ask a person in power (politely and with reason, but without equivocating). The “ask” itself is powerful, even when the person says “no”, because you are showing that you want to take control of your career trajectory – and next time the answer might be “yes”.
Q: What is one thing you do to achieve a sense of balance between your professional and personal life?
A: This is of course a constant struggle, but when I feel like I am losing balance, I try to focus on being present in that moment. I believe one of the times of greatest imbalance is when we feel tugged toward work when we are home or toward home when at work. The guilt that results makes it so that we are not fully present in either place. Take a breath and realize you chose to be where you are at that moment, let that allow you to focus back in on what matters most to you.