By TIM Initiative • January 28, 2015•Ms. JD
Ms. JD launched The Incredible Men (TIM) Initiative in 2014 to celebrate men who are active champions for women’s advancement in the legal profession. These men not only value equality and diversity in the profession, but earnestly and enthusiastically support women and women’s initiatives. Today we feature Grover E. Cleveland, who has been a steadfast supporter of Ms. JD and all early career associates. We asked Grover to share some personal thoughts on the advancement of women in our profession. Here's what he had to say:
Participating in the Ms. JD Passion Forward Conference in Austin, TX last year was one of the most gratifying experiences of my life. The students were smart, engaged, and appreciative of career advice. But one thing that struck me was that some of the students were timid about sharing their goals and accomplishments. After the conference, I mentioned to Katie Larkin-Wong that I hoped the students realized they had what it took to succeed and that they would focus on believing in themselves.
I had a similar experience after doing a career seminar at Harvard Law School. A student tentatively made her way up to the front of the room and said, “Thank you so much. That was incredibly helpful.” That statement was far more gratifying to me than saving clients scads of money in private practice.
I wrote Swimming Lessons for Baby Sharks: The Essential Guide to Thriving as a New Lawyer, because I did not like to see new lawyers struggle. Law can be both rewarding – and challenging for all new lawyers. Women in particular may need to be assertive about asking for what they need to thrive, because those needs may not be obvious to others.
I was struck by Sheryl Sandberg’s story in Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, when she recounted, “I didn’t realize that pregnant women needed reserved parking until I experienced my own aching feet.”
The story reminded me of when I was a new associate and asked my firm to institute domestic partner benefits. I had relocated to the West Coast with my life partner, and because he did not yet have a job, he had no health insurance. I was fully prepared for my request to be dismissed out of hand. Instead, the managing partner told me to make a proposal. Six months later, the firm instituted the benefits. Other firms in the city followed soon after.
Being assertive and asking for what we need to succeed is obviously not a panacea. But it is an important step, because it is something we control. Every day, we can choose to lean out – or lean in.
Grover E. Cleveland is a lawyer in Seattle, Washington and the author of Swimming Lessons for Baby Sharks: The Essential Guide to Thriving as a New Lawyer published by West in 2010. Grover has practiced for more than two decades, and Swimming Lessons for Baby Sharks not only draws on his own experiences, but also includes advice from dozens of other lawyers throughout the country.
He is a former partner at Foster Pepper PLLC, one of the larger law firms in the Northwest. His clients included the Seattle Seahawks professional football team as well as other companies owned by Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen.
Grover is a frequent speaker on career success for law students, summer associates, and new lawyers, including seminars at law firms of all sizes, law schools, bar associations, and national conferences. He was a speaker at the Ms. JD 2014 Passion Forward Conference in Austin, TX.
With Ms. JD’s president, Katie Larkin-Wong, Grover co-authored a series of blog posts for American Lawyer Media’s Careerist blog, based on Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. Grover is also a regular contributor on law career success for Ms. JD’s blog, Above the Law, and American Bar Association publications and blogs.
He currently holds a legal and environmental policy position in Seattle. In that role, he is the client of other lawyers in many disciplines and all stages of practice. This broad range of experience both as a supervising attorney and as a client gives him a unique perspective on the skills new lawyers need to succeed.
He was named after his grandfather who was named after the 22nd and 24th President of the United States. There is no blood relationship.