Noha

Superwomen JDs and What You Can Learn From Them: Featuring Dana Brody-Brown of Lewis and Roca LLP

Bio for this week's superwoman JD: Ms. Brody-Brown is a partner in the firm’s Intellectual Property practice group. Her work is focused in the areas of trademark counseling and prosecution, including trademark audits, portfolio analysis and strategic counseling, selection and searching of trademarks, domestic and worldwide registration and enforcement, domain name issues, and licensing.

Ms. Brody-Brown handles trademark disputes, including domain name issues and opposition and cancellation proceedings before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board of the United States Patent & Trademark Office. She has counseled a wide array of clients ranging from start-ups to well-known and established companies in varied industries including consumer electronics, semiconductors, software, banking, fashion, music and entertainment. She also has experience and a particular interest in the areas of advertising and marketing law and counsels clients regarding trademark and consumer issues raised by advertising and marketing and how those issues can be addressed.

Prior to joining Lewis and Roca, Ms. Brody-Brown practiced at White & Case LLP. Before entering the private sector, she worked for the National Association for Public Interest Law in Washington, DC.

1. How has being a woman affected your career or legal education?
I’m not sure that being a woman has affected my career significantly, but I can say that being a mom has (and I suppose they are related).  It has made me put a premium on flexibility. I can’t be in the office late every night at this stage in my life, because I have another job to do at home as a parent.  That said, there are times when it is necessary to work late at the office to meet a deadline and many times when I need to log back on from home after the kids are in bed to tie up loose ends from the day or make sure that a client email gets a response.  But flexibility is key for me at this stage.
2. What advice do you wish someone had given you when you first started practicing law?
Go after every opportunity you can to get a wide variety of experience, and work with as many different attorneys as possible. I specialized in trademark law early in my career, and it is an area that I love.  That said, there are times when I wish I had more wide-ranging experience to draw upon.
3. What do you think the legal profession can do to increase the number of senior level females?
Identify, cultivate, and actively promote female stars.  In addition, make it possible for women with children to advance.  When women are either offered no flexibility, or flexibility under the understanding that working a reduced or flexible schedule will make promotion difficult or impossible, they will not stay.
4. Being a first year attorney anywhere is tough.  How do you think young attorneys can really hone their skills in their first few years? 
Work really hard on every assignment you get.  Pro-actively seek out feedback that will allow you to improve your skills.  Make yourself the junior attorney that every partner wants to work with by producing excellent work, solving problems, and displaying a stellar attitude.  In addition, seek opportunities to meet and work with the clients directly.  In some areas of practice, these opportunities will not come until you have a few years of practice under your belt, but there is nothing that will help you learn about your practice area and client service more quickly than hearing the types of questions clients ask and the issues that are important to them.
5. Our profession is male dominated.  How can young women balance being feminine and professional at the same time?  I meet many women that simply act like one of the boys; I do not think that is the solution.  Do you have any advice for handling social situations, outings with clients, etc.?
My advice is to be yourself.  No matter what you do, some clients and senior attorneys will be more comfortable with men, but most will respond positively to someone who is authentic and at-ease with themselves and others, regardless of gender.
6. There is a perception that senior female attorneys think that they had it tough and so should you.  Do you think that this sentiment is true?  If so, do you think there is value in figuring things out on your own like women before you had to?
I’ve been lucky that none of the senior female attorneys with whom I have worked closely have had this attitude, but my impression from talking to others who are not so lucky is that this sentiment still persists.  There are certain things you have to figure out for yourself (male or female), but many things you can learn from talking to others.  Look for mentors of either gender who will support your efforts to learn and advance and will cheer your successes.
7. What advice do you have for young female attorneys looking for a mentor?  Do you feel that there is added value in finding a female mentor?  What should they be looking for in a mentor, and what can they do to make themselves someone you would want to mentor? 
Don’t think that there is one person out there destined to be your mentor.  If you happen to find a female mentor, I think that is great, and there is often added value in learning from another woman, especially when you have other things in common beyond gender.  But I think men can be great mentors as well.  In my experience, I have learned different things from many of the people I’ve worked with in different capacities (including staff) and have found that sometimes mentors can be found where you might not expect them.

8. What is your favorite thing about being a lawyer?  I am sure you have a moment of achievement that made the sacrifices seem worth it. Can you tell us about a highlight in your career?
My favorite thing about my practice is working with clients to help them strategize and solve problems.  While it feels great when you win an opposition for a client, help them reach a favorable settlement, or get a domain name returned to them from a cybersquatter, what I like the best is when clients call me with an issue to say, “What do you think about this trademark issue?  What should we do?” and I can give them good advice and explain the reasons why or the pros and cons of a particular strategy.  That’s very satisfying.
9. Men still get paid more and get promoted faster.  What advice do you have for young women to help them accelerate their careers?
For women in law firms, start thinking about and working on business development early in your career.  Don’t wait until you are a senior associate, because developing a good network and bringing in business takes a long time.
10. What has changed the most and the least since you started practicing law?  How have these changes affected you?
Since I started practicing, technology advances have allowed us to be accessible on a near constant basis (through blackberries and remote access and cell phones).  While many of these things were available 10 years ago, they have now become standard.  This can be both a blessing and a curse, because the technology allows for more flexibility, which is great for someone like me. I can get home to have dinner with my kids and put them to bed, and then log back on to respond to anything that came in late in the day. The curse, of course, is that it is difficult to leave work at the office and easier for the normal stresses of the workday to follow us home.  But on balance, in my view, the change is positive because of the flexibility if affords.

11. What is one change you would like to see in the legal profession in the next 20 years?
I would like to see more law firms looking further beyond the billable hour as a means of charging for services and evaluating associates.
12. What opportunities do you feel that your legal education has afforded you? In other words, doors that have opened, fulfilling activities you are involved in, etc.
When I graduated from law school, I was not yet sure if I wanted to practice, but the law degree was an entrée into several interesting areas I worked in before I started practicing.  For example, the JD allowed me to work in non-traditional areas like non-profit legal program management and arts fundraising in addition to the work I do now in private practice as a trademark attorney.  Rather than narrowing my options, it expanded them tremendously.

A Message from the Author:   This column is a Q&A with senior level female attorneys offering advice and mentorship to young female lawyers.  The questions below were sent to the interviewees and responses have not been edited for content.  The advice, experiences, personalities, and approaches of these women are extremely diverse and more importantly very useful to future generations of female attorneys.  I hope this column will offer helpful advice, and inspire healthy discussions.  I have an exciting lineup of female leaders in the profession, but if you have someone you would like to nominate, or you yourself would like to be interviewed, feel free to email me at superwomenjds@gmail.com.   I also just went on twitter under superwomenjds and have launched a blog at www.superwomenjds.com. Times are tough and I want to be here to solicit experts to answer your questions and start a discussion on where the legal field is going.  

Bio for the author of the column:   Noha Sidhom is a proud graduate of the University of Nebraska College of Law.  Before attending law school, Noha interned on Capitol Hill for the Honorable Charles Timothy Hagel and went on to campaign for Senate candidate Peter Ricketts.  During law school, she clerked at Husch Blackwell Sanders, formerly Blackwell Sanders.  She also did an internship at the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Office of Enforcement and an internship at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, where she is now an attorney in the Office of General Counsel.  Noha is licensed in New York and New Jersey, and currently resides with her husband in Washington, D.C.

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