By Seaira Christian-Daniels • June 27, 2016•Ms. JD, Careers, Firms and the Private Sector, Law School, Internships and Clerkships, Issues, Mentoring and Networking, Sexism, Sexual Harassment, and Other Forms of Discrimination, •Features, Guest Bloggers and Profiles of Women in the Law
From a tiny office in rural Alaska to a skyscraper in Manhattan, from The Sunshine State to The Prairie State, Ms. JD seeks to capture snapshots of successful women attorneys practicing law from sea to shining sea. Ms. JD had a few questions for Amy Ismail who is a an associate at Reid Rubinstein & Bogatz in Las Vegas, Nevada.
1. Where do you practice law?
I am an associate with Reid Rubinstein & Bogatz in Las Vegas, Nevada.
2. Describe your legal market. What is the size of the market? How would you describe the culture?
Fortunately, Nevada has more jobs than attorneys. According to the National Jurist magazine, the Mountain region, including Arizona, Utah, Colorado and Nevada, ranks as the best job market in the country for recent graduates. As such, new graduates can be selective when applying for jobs.
3. What are the industries that produce work for lawyers in your area?
Gaming law and medical marijuana litigation are big practice areas.
4. Describe your practice area.
RRB provides quality legal representation in matters involving gaming, complex commercial transactions, dispute resolution, and complex litigation.
5. How did you get started in this practice area?
I had the privilege to clerk for the Honorable Linda Marie Bell of the Eighth Judicial District Court, County of Clark, Nevada. My clerkship exposed me to a wide range of practice areas. I gravitated to complex commercial litigation and applied to firms that specialize in this practice area.
6. Do you think your practice is different because of where you live? If so, in what way(s)?
The casino industry makes Vegas a unique place to practice law. Lobbying is a central component for the gaming industry. Recently, Nevada has witnessed an increase in litigation regarding medical marijuana establishments after the Nevada legislature passed Senate Bill 374, which created the framework and licensing requirements for medical marijuana establishments, in 2013.
7. What are good resources for women attorneys in your area?
Southern Nevada Association of Women Attorneys (SNAWA) is an organization that provides women attorneys the opportunity to network with seasoned attorneys and provides guidance for the personal and professional development of its members. SNAWA hosts a monthly luncheon where members network and receive continuing legal education credits focused on current legal issues. A substantial number of SNAWA members are serving in the judiciary for the Eighth Judicial District Court and serve as mentors and role models to SNAWA members.
8. What has been your hardest day on the job?
I am fortunate enough to have women role models in my life to provide guidance and advice. However, the absence of women role models in the workplace magnifies the large gender disparity in the legal field. The general absence of female partners makes it difficult for young female associates to obtain the guidance necessary to combat gender stereotypes present in the legal field today.
9. What has been your best day on the job?
Providing effective and quality representation to our clients to achieve the best possible outcome.
10. What advice do you have for women attorneys following in your footsteps?
Never give up. While I’m in the beginning stages of my career, it has been full of challenges that have shaped me into the person that I am today. Fortunately, I was raised by the strongest woman I know, my mother. I saw my mother battle the same challenges that women all over the country still face today. Most importantly, I saw my mother embrace these challenges knowing that one day it could make a difference for the next generation of women leaders.
Over the past decade, corporations have worked faster instituting changes necessary to encourage women to take leadership roles. Unfortunately, law firms have not. Despite law schools consisting of 50 percent women and 50 percent men, women are not progressing nearly as quickly as their male counterparts. Indeed, many women attorneys leave big firms to pursue opportunities only available to us at boutique law firms.
Not only do women attorneys face an uphill battle regarding the large gender disparity within the legal field, women of color face even greater challenges. According to a study conducted by the ABA’s Women of Color Research Initiative, women of color receive less compensation than men and white women, receive fewer promotions and raises, and are denied equal access to mentoring opportunities. Statistically, eighty-five percent of minority women attorneys in the United States will quit big law practice within the first seven years of their practice. I strongly encourage women of color to embrace these challenges because the only way we can change this trend is by achieving leadership roles thereby providing us the opportunity to change these practices.
11. Any additional stories, anecdotes, or thoughts on practicing in your practice area or location?
The most difficult challenge as a young associate is finding opportunities that will help build skills that are essential to progressing as an attorney. Partners and senior associates argue motions, conduct depositions and interact with clients because they have experience. However, young attorneys can gain practical skills through pro bono representation. Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada (LACSN) created the Pro Bono Appellate Program designed to give attorneys valuable experience writing briefs and arguing appeals before the Nevada Supreme Court and Nevada Court Appeals. The Nevada Supreme Court and Nevada Court of Appeals guarantee oral argument in every case thereby encouraging attorneys to gain practical experience and skills. This program provides valuable service to attorneys, the courts and most importantly, the community. We all have a duty to give back to our community, but this duty can provide us with invaluable experience needed for a successful career.
Amy Ismail graduated with her B.A. in Political Science and M.A. in Education from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas. She then moved to Las Vegas to attend the William S. Boyd School of Law and graduated in 2013. During law school, she was a Program Educator at the William S. Boyd School of Law – Kids’ Court School, a program established to help educate children about the courtroom process, reduce their anxiety before legal proceedings, and help increase their credibility in court. Notably, Ms. Ismail received the Public Interest Law Association grant and was the first William S. Boyd School of Law student to work at the Clark County Public Defender’s Office under this grant.
Thereafter, Amy clerked for the Honorable Linda Marie Bell of the Eighth Judicial District Court, Count of Clark, Nevada. Amy is currently an associate at Reid Rubinstein & Bogatz and specializes in commercial litigation, commercial transactions and regulatory licensing. Amy is currently working on her PhD in Educational Psychology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.