Full Time Practice

Monday, June 15, 2015

Meet Holly Fisher

Holly Fisher is from Topeka, Kansas, where she practices energy and utilities law with a focus on real estate acquisitions and capital project related issues.  She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Utah and her law degree from Washburn University School of Law.  Thank you, Holly, for answering our questions! 

What have you done since law school and where do you work now? Since law school, I worked in private practice as a litigator in Kansas City, MO and surrounding areas.  Then worked at the Kansas Board of Pharmacy and the Kansas Corporation Commission, litigating in an administrative setting.  Currently I work at ITC Holdings Corp. – an independent electric transmission utility. 

What do you enjoy most about what you do? I love the variety of matters I get to work on, from Real Estate matters to Contracts to Administrative/Regulatory matters.  I also really like the people I work with in every department including construction, land agents, engineers, and the attorneys in our legal group. 

Has your path in law differed from your original expectations?  If so, in what way? My path has been very different than I expected.  I went to law school with every intention of practicing in the energy industry since I focused on Oil & Gas law and NOT on litigation.  However, my first job led me to litigation, which I really enjoyed.  When I was able to stop commuting to the Kansas City area, I worked for the State of Kansas at a couple of different agencies, again mainly as a litigator.  I never expected to work in a health-related area as I did with the Board of Pharmacy, but I was grateful to work in Topeka and it was a good job to have while I interviewed with the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) – the state agency that regulates public utilities.  I found out about ITC Holdings Corp. while I was at the KCC, and when I looked into it further, I knew this was where I wanted to work.   

What are your future professional goals?  I want to continue to learn about new subjects and advance in the legal team at ITC.

How do you juggle your personal and professional lives?  I am blessed with a supportive husband and children.  We have to communicate all of the time in order to make sure we can manage our schedules and activities.  In the end, it is great teamwork!

Tell us about your family.  I am married to Scott Fisher who is an IT specialist for Bimbo Bakeries.  There are four great kids in our family, although two and a daughter-in-law are not really “kids.”  My son Jordan and his wife Rachel live in the Seattle area and the two of them work for tech companies.  Next is Bryan, and he lives in Salt Lake City while he works full time, is in school part time (seeking a degree in Music Production), and plays in two alternative rock bands.  I’m proud to say that one of them – Heartless Breakers – has been signed to a label and released a full-length album in March!  Then we have Kristin, a senior in high school who is a percussionist, plays in the Topeka Youth Symphony Orchestra, works at Cold Stone, and will be attending Utah State University in the fall.  Our youngest is Tarrin, a freshman in high school who swims competitively, plays trombone in the high school Jazz Band, and is also busy with Boy Scouts and other church activities. 

What advice would you give to other women either interested or already working in the law? For women interested in seeking a law degree I often suggestion that first, they be certain that they want a career in the law – there are a great number of attorneys in the world, and the competition can be tough.  I believe a person should love what they are doing and not just be doing the work for the money.  Second, for young women who have just completed their undergraduate degrees, I suggest that taking some time away from school between completing their undergraduate degree and starting law school can be a very good thing.  Real world experience was invaluable to me in law school and provided me the ability to prioritize and schedule myself during law school. 

For those who already work in the law, we have all experienced the sometimes polar demands of work and family.  My advice is to remember why we work – we love the law, but we love our families too.  Work-Life balance is a struggle in any job, but maybe even more so in the law.  Remember that there is no text, call, or email that is more important than time with our families. 

Orange County WIL Lunch

On June 11, 2015, the Orange County, California Chapter of the JRCLS held its annual Women in Law luncheon. The group met at Olive Garden in Irvine, California and had great food and even better conversation. Those in attendance included full-time and part-time attorneys, stay-at-home moms, business owners, law firm owners and more. Discussions included bar exams, church callings, schedules, children and much more. Although our paths differ greatly, it was great to hear insight and experience from those that came! We got to know each other better and did a bit of networking as well. Women in attendance included, Deborah Dickson, Nicole Jacobsen, Charlynn Lavran, Colleen Tye, Marin Bradshaw, Jennifer Wilson, Desiree Nordstrom, Melinda Hunsaker, Breanne Salmond, and Winnie Ng (pictured from left to right.)

submitted by Desiree Nordstrom

Monday, June 1, 2015

Religious Freedom Annual Review

The BYU International Center for Law and Religion Studies is hosting its Religious Freedom Annual Review July 6-8, 2015 on the BYU campus in Provo, Utah.  The organizers of the conference have especially invited the Women in the Law group of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society to attend.  For more information, please visit http://ce.byu.edu/cw/iclrs/.

Join with experts in the Religious Freedom Annual Review

The Annual Review will provide an update for lawyers and nonlawyers on religious freedom challenges in the United States and around the world. The BYU International Center for Law and Religion Studies and selected experts will discuss important topics including:
  • The rising tide of religious freedom restrictions
  • Latest cases from the United States Supreme Court
  • Decisions from other important courts
  • International legal developments impacting religious freedom
  • Strategies for fostering religious freedom in local communities
  • The place of religion in the public square
  • Religious freedom implications of same-sex marriage laws
  • Effect of discrimination laws on religious organizations and employers
  • Dilemmas of conscience for healthcare counselors and other professionals
  • Challenges to historic tax exemptions for churches and ministers
  • Accreditation threats to religiously affiliated schools and universities
  • Attorney General selective refusal to enforce laws
  • Professional ethics and civility for religious freedom advocates

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Meet Kathryn Durrant

Kathryn K. Durrant is a Social Security Disability attorney in Salt Lake City, Utah.  She graduated from Utah Valley University with her undergraduate degree and earned her J.D. at Brigham Young University's J. Reuben Clark School of Law.  We are excited to introduce her to all of you!
What have you done since law school and where do you work now:

My first job was in Utah’s Fourth District Court as a law clerk bailiff for Judge Samuel McVey. I was the bailiff when we were in court and his law clerk when we weren’t. I had to go to Police Officer Standard Training (POST) for six weeks to qualify for the job. I was there with eight friends from law school who were also going to be clerks/bailiffs. We learned criminal law and did a lot of physical fitness. I learned how to take people down, handcuff, and do pat down, along with other activities offices need to know. I had to hire a personal trainer so I could finally do the required 15 regulation style push-ups. I did 20.  

The court job lasted one year. I sent out one job application a day as the job was drawing to an end. I got hired at the end of my clerkship by the Social Security Administration’s Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR). I packed up my car and moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico. I was part of a group working at a national hearing center. I was trained for a month in Baltimore, Maryland in disability law. My work was writing decisions from the judges instructions. After 15 months I transferred to Salt Lake City, Utah to be close to my grown children. For the past year I have been in management at the Salt Lake City ODAR office. I work with staff, attorneys, and judges to schedule and hold hearings and get out legally sufficient decisions. On January 23, 2015, I was selected to be part of management at the Boise, Idaho ODAR office.  

What do you enjoy most about what you do:     

I enjoy working with people and knowing that we are helping people receive benefits if they are disabled or allowing them to move on if they are found not disabled. Social Security disability has received some bad publicity in the past couple of years. However, we really are making every effort to serve the public and eliminate fraud. I’m glad I can be a part of that. On the perk side I don’t have billable hours. I have a flexible work band so I don’t have to be there at the same time each day. The earlier I come in the earlier I can leave and there is overtime only if I want it. My branch of Social Security allows attorneys to work at home three days a week. Before I got into management I worked at home and it was great. I don’t worry about work once I leave the office.  

Has your path in law differed from your original expectations? If so, in what way:

I did an internship or worked each each semester to help me find the type of environment I wanted to work in. I have two brothers who are attorneys and they suggested I not go to a firm. It was good advice. Government has been a great fit for me. I do some pro bono on the side. An attorney once helped me for free and I was so grateful. I’m glad I can help others like he helped me. The summer after my second year I went to India to study law. So, I was able to combine my joy of travel with the law. The judge who hired me in Albuquerque told me later when he saw I’d studied in India it caught his attention and I got the interview.  

What are your future professional goals:                       

I would like to keep moving up in Social Security. After I’ve been an attorney for seven years (not counting clerkships) I qualify to take a test to be a judge. The test isn’t offered on a regular basis so you just don’t know when it will come up again. The last time was a four year wait. Until then I’m getting great experience in managing and writing.  

How do you juggle your personal and professional lives:

My regular work hours makes this easier. Because I have been with the government five years I’ve acquired the ability to take time off when I want. I will take several days and go visit grandchildren. I don’t have court dates or deadlines to worry about. 

Tell us about your family:  

I have four grown children, two girls and two boys. We’ve had our struggles but have all come out on top.  We all love each other, finally, and are glad any chance we have to get together. I have eight grandchildren, seven boys and one girl. I make every effort to visit the grandchildren I don’t live by so they know who I am. I’m no longer married, which was part of the reason I when to law school. I saw it as a good way to take care of myself and my children financially. 

What advice would you give to other women either interested or already working in the law:    

There are so many paths available to you when you are an attorney. You can leave the law for awhile and come back. You can work as much or as little in the law as you want. It’s a flexible career. Just take the bar in the state you plan to live in. You don’t want to take that test again. In federal government jobs you just need to be a member of any state bar, so you get some flexibility there. It also gives you, for lack of a better word, clout, with others. So you need to use this wisely.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Save the Date! 3rd Annual Women in Law Regional Conference

The conference is scheduled for September 19, 2015 at Chapman University Dale E. Fowler School of Law in Orange County, California.
Registration and breakfast will begin at 8 am. There will be two plenary sessions and three break-out sessions. Break-out topics include: Alternate Legal Careers; Overcoming Gender Bias; Negotiations; Part-time, Full-time and Working from Home; and The Powerful Influence of a Law Degree. Stay tuned for more detailed announcements on speakers and panelist. This will be a great event to attend! Continuing Legal Education credits will be offered for a minimal fee. Hope to see you there!
For more information, contact Desiree Nordstrom at desiree at overflowlegalnetwork dot com

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Meet Rana Lehr-Lehnardt

Rana R. Lehr-Lehnardt lives in Liberty, Missouri, where she is a professor at the University of Missouri—Kansas City School of Law.  She teaches courses in international human rights, comparative law, introduction to the common law system, and legal analysis and writing for international masters of law students.  She earned her bachelors degrees in journalism and French at Brigham Young University, as well as her J.D. from BYU’s J. Reuben Clark Law School.  Rana also holds an L.L.M. degree in International Human Rights from Columbia Law School.  Thank you, Rana, for introducing yourself to us! 

What have you done since law school and where do you work now? 

After law school I accepted an associate position at Ballard Spahr LLP’s Salt Lake City office where I worked for only a few months until I accepted an offer to clerk on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals for Judge Terrence L. O’Brien.  Near the end of the clerkship, I gave birth to my first daughter.  Shortly after the clerkship, we moved to New York City for my husband to clerk on the Court of International Trade.  The first year in New York City, I lobbied for an NGO and attended various conferences at the United Nations.  It was a great experience getting to participate in the international policy and lawmaking arena.  The second year in New York City I attended Columbia Law School where I completed a masters of law degree in which I focused on international human rights.  While at Columbia Law School, I participated in the human rights clinic and researched and interviewed juveniles sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.  For another project, I traveled to Bolivia to conduct interviews and determine the country’s progress toward the UN Millennium Development goals.  I then worked for the program on Freedom of Religion and Belief at the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington, D.C.  After the birth of my second daughter, I worked only on a project-by-project basis for my former boss.  In 2009, we moved to Liberty, Missouri.  Since January 2010, I have been teaching law at University of Missouri—Kansas City School of Law.     

Rana in China with her students who took her on a bike ride around a national park
What do you enjoy most about what you do? 

I love teaching and working with students.  I work with international masters of law students and appreciate the opportunity to get to know their culture and their hopes for the future.  I also enjoy introducing them to some U.S. culture by inviting them into my home for parties, i.e., Halloween, Christmas, and Easter. 
Rana with her international students at the annual Halloween party she hosts

Has your path in law differed from your original expectations?  If so, in what way? 

I am not sure how I imagined my path in law.  Law is a second career for me.  My first career was as a journalist.  I went to law school to learn more about human rights and to learn how to change unjust laws.  I never expected to live in Missouri and thought moving here would mean the end of pursuing career opportunities in human rights issues.  But it is here in Missouri where I have been given the opportunity to teach law, something that would have been much harder in Washington, D.C.  I have learned that career opportunities can present themselves where we least expect them.   

What are your future professional goals? 

A little while ago, I realized that I could be happy in many career paths.  Because both my husband and I are attorneys, we have both taken leaps of faith, sometimes moving to benefit the other’s career.  In each case, so far, the spouse who agreed to move with no job prospect ultimately found a position that far exceeded expectations.  I find flexibility is more important in my career path than a specific professional goal. 

How do you juggle your personal and professional lives?   

I juggle my personal and professional lives very imperfectly.  I have consciously made career choices to balance my professional and personal life so that I wouldn’t have to juggle as much.  I don’t know if I will ever have the career I could have had, but I hope that I will have the career that will allow me to be happy and fulfilled in both my personal and professional lives. 

Certain career choices I made that helped me to balance personal and professional lives are as follows:  After my clerkship, when my first child was three months old, I chose not to search for a job.  I stayed home with my baby that next year, except for a few conferences at the United Nations.  After my second child was born, I quit my job at the ACLU and only worked on a few projects during the next couple of years until my third child was born.  During this time, I also volunteered for an asylum NGO. I tried to continue doing just enough to stay connected to the human rights community.  When we moved to Missouri, an opportunity presented to begin teaching law as an adjunct professor at University of Missouri—Kansas City School of Law.  I don’t think I would have able afforded this opportunity if I had not dedicated time during the previous few years participating in projects that gave me experience and resume fodder.  Starting as an adjunct then lead to my current position as assistant teaching professor of law.  Even my time at the law school has been one of choices to help me balance personal and professional lives.  My first five years at the law school I was technically teaching part-time, so I was able to be home when my son finished preschool and my girls finished school.  I was also home on Fridays with my preschool son.  And most importantly, I was home with my children during summer and winter vacations.  Now that my three children are all in school, I requested full-time status.  My full-time status is not tenure track, but I believe that if we are diligent and balanced, opportunities will present when they are best for you and your situation.

Tell us about your family. 

I am married to a wonderful, supportive husband, Mark B. Lehnardt.  We have three children, ages 11, 9, and 6.  School evenings are full of homework, ballet, piano, violin, soccer, art, church responsibilities and activities, and mediating arguments. 
Rana with her family at one of their favorite places--the beach!

What advice would you give to other women either interested or already working in the law? 

Remember that everyone’s path is different.  I struggle not to compare myself to other women attorneys.  So often I will look at what another woman attorney has accomplished and I feel like a failure.  I have to remember that I am happy with the balance I have achieved.  I would like to progress in my career, but I also want to continue being present for my children, taking time to care for my body (running, stretching), cooking healthy and delicious food, and serving others.   

My advice to others interested or working in the law is based on what a previous bishop said to me, “Get into the best law school [or job] you can and give ‘em hell.”  I add to that advice, don’t give yourself hell.  Determine what will make you happy, seek guidance in finding your balance, and pursue your own path.  Don’t compare yourself to others as your path is your own.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Spotlight on the WIL Section of the Salt Lake City Chapter

The WIL Section of the Salt Lake City Chapter has had an excellent year.  Section Chair, Emily Adams, sent us this report.  These are some great ideas of WIL events that can be replicated in other chapters.  Thank you, Emily, for sending us this post!

Justice Christine Durham
In September 2014, we had a kick-off luncheon where Justice Christine Durham of the Utah Supreme Court spoke on "Women in the Law: The 21st Century Version." Justice Durham cited multiple statistics about the number of women in the legal profession and spoke about her own impressions of the status of women in the profession. The event was a great start to the revitalization of the WIL section here in Salt Lake.
In December 2014, we had a luncheon where Neylan McBaine spoke on "Football, Primary Songs and Elections: Examining Gender Relations in the Church Today." Ms. McBaine had recently published her book Women at Church and spoke thoughtfully about gender relations in the Church and how those relations could be improved. This luncheon drew quite a bit of attention and considerate conversation. 
Neylan McBaine

In April 2015, the WIL section hosted another luncheon: "Increasing Women's Influence in Corporate Governance and the Legislature: A Panel Discussion." We had an exemplary panel: Dr. Ann Millner, former president of Weber State University and a Utah State Senator; Ashlee Burt of springBoard Utah; Gretta Spendlove of Durham Jones & Pinegar; and Emilee Wagner, who is a member of the Legislative Coalition for People with Disabilities and whose bill was recently passed by the Utah Legislature. The moderator was Lisa Watts Baskin, an administrative law judge and a member of the organizing committee for Real Women Run, an organization that encourages women to be more involved in civic leadership. The panelists spoke about challenges they faced in their respective fields; the benefits of networking and being in leadership in organizations outside of their profession; and the practicalities of running for office, getting a bill through the legislature, or getting on a corporate board. The discussion was wide-ranging and exemplary, drawing from the vast and diverse experiences of the panelists. 

April 2015 WIL Panel

The final event for this year will be June 23, 2015, at 6:30pm at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, and the speaker will be Dr. Susan Madsen of the Utah Women & Leadership Project. It has been an exciting year for the Women in the Law section in Salt Lake, and we hope that it continues!