I say, when people meet me, they pretty much know right away where I stand on things, I can be opinionated. I’m like Popeye. He’s my hero. I am what I am. And that’s my motto because if you’re not authentic and if you’re not real, then you’re not credible. And credibility leads to justice. It leads to truth. And I equate truth and justice together. You got to stay true to yourself. If you try and be something you’re not, you will fail every time. Choices matter. Moral compass matters. Societal pressures will always be there. And you may think, as a woman, trial lawyer, I need to be bigger. I need to be batter. I need to be more aggressive. But if that’s not your style and that’s not who you are, it will not work. If you’re not authentic, if you’re not Popeye, if you’re not, I am what I am, then you’ve done a disservice to your client.
The power of being who you are is the greatest power that you have. Don’t give it up as a woman. Don’t give someone else that power over you. Don’t try to be who you are. You will fail every time, I promise you. And if you’re saying, “Well, I don’t really know who I am,” I think you do. Be a little introspective and you’re not going to be perfect. You’re going to make mistakes. You just may not make the same mistakes, but you’ll make new ones. And that’s okay too. We don’t want perfection here, we just want authenticity. If I don’t believe what I’m saying, a jury will not believe what they are hearing.
And if I’m not true to myself, I can’t be true to the client. If I don’t like the client, I cannot represent the client. I have to meet them. I have to be in their house. I’m tactile touch. I like paper. I’m old school like that. And I want to see someone. I want to understand how they think, what makes them tick. Are they real? Are they authentic? And if they are, and I can help them, my God, I will. I will do anything in my power. I will never give up. I will always help them. But it’s that being real, that being true to yourself and not being false, or being what someone else thinks you should be, that’s a recipe for disaster. Trust me, I’ve tried it.
You have that chip on your shoulder as a young attorney, I think I was 23 years old when I started practicing, and I was in a man’s world and I was young. It was 1988 before the #MeToo movement and everything else. And I was just going it alone. I didn’t have many mentors now. So part of giving back to the community and being authentic is caring enough to be a mentor and to have that ability. And even though there’s societal pressures out there that we’ve talked about, if you are approachable, it makes you a better leader. If you’re authentic, you’re approachable. If you’re authentic, you’re truthful.
Remember, this is not a just rehearsal. We only go around once. So be yourself, be fearless and embrace it because who you are is unique to you. There’s no other person in the world like you. Just like fingerprints. Everybody’s fingerprints are different. There’s no other brain in the world like your brain. So be uniquely you, and that’s the best advice I can give. Embrace who you are