Recently I had the pleasure of talking with Diane. A paralegal at an international law firm and a third year law student, I talked to Diane about working in the legal services field and what leadership means to her.
Tell me about the legal services field. What attracted you to it?
I’ve wanted to be a lawyer since I was a little girl. When I was little, my mom gave me a pink briefcase with barrettes in it. I remember vividly dumping out all of the barrettes and telling my sisters that we were going to have court. I was going to be the judge and the attorney. There is something about how smart and powerful attorneys seem. Whenever people would asked me as a child, I always said that I wanted to be a lawyer.
Do you see yourself becoming a judge in the future?
No, because I have no desire to be involved in politics. It’s not for me.
Would you have any advice for women who want to go to law school?
I would encourage anyone to go to law school as difficult as the process has been. As women, if anyone tells you that you aren’t strong, I think law school is the perfect test of strength. It is also important to know who you are and what you want. For example, I have a friend who went on an interview with a female partner who said to her “You don’t want to have a family right? Because I’m going to make you a star.” While it was certainly illegal for my friend to be asked that, it is indicative of what women may face in the legal field. Staying grounded is very important. It’s almost like you can’t have both. From what I’ve seen in the legal field, it is difficult to have both. (A career and a family while being a lawyer).
Do you see yourself as being able to have both in the future?
Are you prepared to have to give up one or the other in the future?
Yes. I think the good thing about it is that a law degree allows you to do so many things. Being counsel in-house is different than running a practice. People with law degrees have lots of options. Having a law degree will allow me to make choices in the future.
It sounds like you are preparing yourself for an unknown opportunity. What does leadership mean to you?
Leadership means making strong decisions and having the courage to take constructive criticism. Leadership also means having values that guide your decision.
Do you believe leaders are made or born? Why?
I think true leaders are born. People have certain qualities that show right after birth and childhood and I think leadership is one of those qualities. These qualities include not easily being influenced by others, being confident and self-assured, not being afraid to take charge when others won’t.
Many people link leaders to motivators. Who or what motivates you?
I can be motivated by a number of people and in a number of ways. It mostly depends on what is going on in my personal life, where I feel the most weakness. Some days I’m motivated by complete strangers. For example, the days when I’m tired and feeling beat down, I may see a pregnant woman on her way to work. I think to myself if she can do well so can I.
I don’t necessarily think leadership and motivation are synonymous. A leader most often has the ability to get people galvanized and on board with their ideas though.
How would you describe your own personal brand? Is it complete? Is it a work in progress? Does it exist? Have you ever thought about your personal brand before?
My personal brand is definitely a work in progress. I think its ever evolving too. Some days I want to be the best daughter, friend, fiance or student I know. What is consistent, however, is that I want my personal brand in every aspect to reflect a woman of integrity, intelligence and strength. I try to apply those values to everything that I do.
I think I always thought of my personal brand but I never labeled it as such. I just always thought of how I wanted people to perceive me. When people think of “Diane” I want them to respect me and the person I always try to portray.
Thank you for your time.