Dan Baldwin 2013-10-25 12:23:38
“I think having come up the ranks of the profession as I did, working hard, but succeeding on my terms – in a way that allowed me to be satisfied personally as well as professionally – has helped make me a better decision-maker,” says Eileen GilBride, a partner in Jones, Skelton and Hochuli, P.L.C. GilBride heads up the firm’s appellate department and has handled civil appeals in many different areas of law, including constitutional, contracts, torts, insurance coverage and defense, employment, municipal and school defense, civil rights, prisoner cases, professional malpractice, Indian law, legislative, administrative, personal injury, wrongful death, divorce, child custody and support, property rights and trusts. During her 30 years of appellate work, GilBride has oft en faced the challenges associated with being a woman in what was once considered a male-only profession. “When I started out in the early 1980s, things were still pretty backwards,” she says. GilBride remembers being introduced to a male client who then asked her to turn around so he could “have a look” at her. Another time, when she had accompanied a senior partner to a client lunch at the Phoenix Country Club, they were turned away from the Men’s Grill because women were not allowed to dine there. The group had to have lunch in the ladies’ lounge. She remembers that no one seemed disturbed by such behavior, but she was shocked and mortified at such incidents. Attitudes have shift ed in a more positive direction since those days and GilBride has been on the leading edge in changing them. She says, “In the late 1980s I broke new ground by going part-time at my firm, so that I could parent my newborn son while still pursuing a rewarding career. “ She researched her proposal before presenting the plan and aft er the presentation the firm went along with it. They worked out a mutually beneficial arrangement that allowed her to meet her children’s needs and still be an important and respected contributor to the firm and its clients. An appellate practice is a procedural specialty, rather than a substantive one, so GilBride often must not only get up to speed quickly on many different substantive areas of the law, she must then answer questions about that area at oral argument. She says that she is fortunate in working with top notch trial lawyers to make sure substance marries with procedure to give clients their best chance on appeal. She says she loves the academic part of the practice - the research, the writing and the brainstorming. “Call me a nerd, but I get a big kick out of coming up with a really good legal argument and crafting a persuasive brief.” Additionally, civil appeals provide her with the opportunity to think about what the law should be, and to help shape it. GilBride says, “The challenge for everyone coming up in the profession, but women especially, is to develop a rewarding and successful career – with hard work and the help of mentors – and then to find the balance between that rewarding career and a satisfying family life.” That family life generally focuses on being a single parent. When not at work she can be found doing home fix-it chores; attending her 11-year-old daughter’s soccer games; shuttling her to acting classes and auditions; attending concerts, movies, or going on trips with her; or enjoying Mexican food with one of her two grown children. GilBride’s commitment to her family, her firm and her profession has continually increased her level of expertise and her areas of responsibility. For example, she is now on her firm’s management committee. She says, “For someone who writes for a living, I honestly do not have the words to express how fortunate I feel to have a career I enjoy, at a firm I hold dear; working with lawyers who are friends as well as colleagues; and all the while raising successful and happy children who are good and honest people. It just doesn’t get any better than that.”
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