By Seaira Christian-Daniels • November 06, 2016•Ms. JD, Writers in Residence, Careers, Firms and the Private Sector
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 Takeena Thompson, who is a Partner at Cohen & Malad, LLP, in Indianapolis, Indiana.
1. Where do you practice law?
2. How would you describe the culture?
The culture among the attorneys here is collegial, but competitive.
3. What are the industries that produce work for lawyers in your area?
Lawyers in this area work in healthcare.
4. Describe your practice area.
My practice area is civil litigation (medical malpractice, products liability, insurance and bad faith litigation).
5. How did you get started in this practice area?
I spent a summer with my firm and spent a great deal of time working on products liability cases. When I was offered a full time associate position, I was hired to work in our products group mostly, but was also given work in other practice areas. When someone called with an insurance dispute, the call was forwarded to me and I handled the case. Now, most insurance cases that come through the door as given to me.
6. What are good resources for women attorneys in your area?
All attorneys should have a variety of resources inside and outside of the legal community. I participate in various organizations and activities to increase my network. Some of resources in my area include: the Indianapolis Bar Association, the Marion County Bar Association, and NAWBO (National Association of Women Business Owners).
7. What has been your hardest day on the job?
The hardest days on the job are when you are preparing for trial or mediation. You put a lot of pressure on yourself to do your best to represent the client and win the case.
8. What has been your best day on the job?
The best days on the job typically include winning a case or negotiating a great settlement for a client.
10. What advice do you have for women attorneys following in your footsteps?
It is important to develop relationships with and support other female attorneys. This is a very male-dominated field and at times, you will feel isolated or marginalized simply because you are a woman. Having relationships with other women attorneys – both inside and outside of your place of employment – is key to staying encouraged and feeling empowered during those times.
11. Do you have any additional stories, anecdotes, or thoughts on practicing in your practice area or location?
I think we are often taught that as women, we have to “play the game,” which can feel unnatural and as a result, you may not perform at your best. I think there has to be some balance of pushing yourself to an uncomfortable area, but also staying true to who you are and practicing in a manner that suits your personality best. There are many ways to be successful, you don’t have to follow someone else’s path.
TaKeena M. Thompson is an Attorney at Cohen & Malad. She has been practicing law for seven years and litigates cases relating to business contract disputes, insurance coverage disputes, medical malpractice, and product liability involving defective medical devices and dangerous drugs. She earned her undergraduate degree in political science from Spelman College and earned her law degree from Indiana University Maurer School of Law - Bloomington. In 2012, TaKeena was a recipient of the Indiana Lawyer’s “Leadership in Law: Up & Coming Lawyer” award. She has also been recognized by the Indiana Super Lawyers as a “Rising Star" for 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016.