On September 24th, the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin published an interview with Levin & Perconti Partner Margaret Battersby-Black. Margaret is considered one of the top attorneys in the small group of female plaintiff’s personal injury lawyers. Last year, Margaret served as the chair of a new committee of the Illinois Trial Lawyer’s Association called the Women’s Caucus. Margaret also is involved in numerous other legal organizations, manages a full caseload, and is a devoted mother to two small children.
After proving her ability to work tirelessly and dedicate herself to her clients and the success of their cases, Margaret was named a Partner at Levin & Perconti in 2014.
Margaret is committed to mentoring young female attorneys and demonstrating that it is possible to achieve great things in both one’s legal career and personal life as a woman under 40.
We are excited to share a portion of Margaret Battersby-Black’s Q&A session on the subject of “Working to close the plaintiff bar gender gap” with the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.
Law Bulletin: You said there’s not a lot of women under 40 who have made partner while practicing plaintiff’s injury law. Why do you think that is?
Margaret Battersby Black: Mentoring — not having a mentor is huge in this profession. Women under 40, many of them, are experiencing balancing family life (having kids) with professional life, and sometimes it gets to be too much, and they opt to let their careers take a backseat.
Or they may take time out to tone it down and raise a family. Having a female mentor (in addition to a male one if that works) is key so that you can navigate the challenges by taking advice from someone who has been there.
It also helps to have male mentors and partners who understand that with raising a family there has to be some understanding that although you will continue to work just as hard, you may not be able to do it in the exact same way as you did before.
Having peers who understand this is important too. I had all three. I had male partners who were supportive and understanding, a female partner who could navigate me through and peers at both the partnership and associate level who understood and picked up the slack for me.
I also have a good support network of other female plaintiff’s lawyers that helped to support this time of my life (which is still ongoing!)
LB: How do you diversify a field of law that is predominantly practiced by older men?
MBB: I think progress is being made. To be successful in this field you have to work on good cases and have some way of getting your own cases. Both of these come with time but also with good mentorship at the top.
When firms’ top people give back to their younger lawyers and give younger lawyers opportunities to succeed, it can help to promote younger lawyers sooner and quicker than may have been done in the past.
On the flip side, it can help the more senior partners balance their workload and delegate and make their lives easier. For young lawyers my advice as to how to secure yourself one of these lucky spots is to work so hard and make yourself so invaluable that they have no choice but to embrace you and support you!
LB: As the first chair of the Women’s Caucus of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, what were your goals for the group’s first year? Did you accomplish them?
MBB: Increase the participation of and visibility of women within the organization and allow women who want to be part of the leadership of the organization to step up and feel supported.
Yes, we made great progress toward accomplishing this goal by getting more women involved in the leadership activities of the organization (more women joined the board, spoke at seminars and took on committee assignments or activities in the organization).
Increase the visibility of women from the organization to outsiders. Accomplished by having many events showcasing our organization’s women leaders including a CLE [Continuing Legal Education] seminar and a trip to Springfield to meet our legislators.
LB: What are your long-term goals for your legal career?
MBB: Continue to try cases and fight for clients whose cases I believe in. Manage/own my own firm/continue partnership in a firm where I am a leader. Mentor and train the next generation of young leaders. Promote women in the plaintiff’s personal-injury profession. Ensure that my clients continue to have access to the courts by helping combat laws and policies that would eliminate those rights such as arbitration agreements. Be successful by maintaining professionalism and civility in the profession.
About Levin & Perconti
Levin & Perconti is a full service personal injury law firm with nearly 3 decades of proven success handling all types of serious injury, medical malpractice, nursing home, and wrongful death cases. With over half a billion dollars recovered for our clients, our personal injury attorneys are committed to protecting and vindicating the rights of people who are seriously injured by the negligence of individuals, corporations, and medical providers.
If you would like to talk to a personal injury attorney about a potential case, call us at 312-332-2872 or toll-free at 877-374-1417 for a FREE consultation. You can also complete our website contact form to have one of our attorneys call you at your convenience.