BIO Jamie is an NFL Agent and a Partner at a boutique law firm in Chicago. After putting herself through school at The University of Michigan she moved to the Windy City to pursue her passion for the law at The University of DePaul Law School. Although she married her college sweet-heart, a then Punter in the NFL, in her mid-20s she and her husband put off having children until her late 30s so that she could focus on her career. She joined her current firm in 2008 and made partner within two years. She is a Certified NFL Agent and has built her law practice around Employment Law. She successfully defends and advises management on employment matters such as hiring and firing practices, wage claims like equal pay and retaliation and discrimination, including pregnancy discrimination in the workplace. She has been named to the Illinois Rising Stars list, an honor reserved for only 2.5 % of attorneys in Illinois for those lawyers who exhibit excellence in practice. She leads a Women’s Marketing Group and mentors female associates in an effort to get more women to stay in the practice of law.
WHAT BIG PROJECT ARE YOU WORKING ON? With a baby due in early February and a trial scheduled for late October and another in early March (an Equal Pay Act case in federal court), I am busy preparing for trials while working my remaining caseload and managing those Associate attorneys working with me. As an NFL agent, since this is football season, I must also stay on top of the game (literally), and hustle to get my free agent clients on a team.
HOW HAS PREGNANCY AFFECTED YOUR PROFESSIONAL GOALS? This is my second pregnancy and both pregnancies have encouraged me to focus more on the future of my career and have helped me to figure out that the key to being a successful law firm partner is developing my own book of clients. This helps me to excel in my firm and also creates independence and more flexibility for me. This is one of the reasons I became an NFL Agent. I don’t want clients to pass me over because they think “Oh, she will soon be on maternity leave.” In the grand scheme, it is such a short time that we are out of the office and I want people to understand that pregnant or not, I am in this for the long haul. As such, I focus more of my efforts on marketing and building on the client relationships that I have. Being pregnant and having children has helped me relate more to my clients with families, but also to the workplace culture and its relationships with pregnant and working women. I can better advise and defend businesses on these relationships and policies because I have been there myself. And finally, it has made me want to be a better mentor for the women in my office – to show them how you can be successful in this career and have a family. Too many women are leaving the law, especially law firms, and I want to help change that.
ADVICE FOR OTHER CAREER-MINDED WOMEN WHO LOVE “THE HUSTLE” & WHO ARE ALSO THINKING ABOUT STARTING A FAMILY? With the right help, you really can do it all. Surround yourself with those that support your decisions to have a successful career and family – friends, colleagues, mentors and family. It really does take a village, so do not be afraid to delegate and ask for help, both at home and at work. I am very fortunate that when my husband retired from the NFL, he started his own business training other kickers and punters which has led to a very flexible schedule where he can stay home with our daughters three days a week and carries a lot of the load. Ask for help, but also continue to help and support other women – it will come back to you, I promise. I waited until my late 30s to have children because I wanted to become a partner and establish myself in my career before starting a family, and that worked for me, but it is not for everyone. You have to figure out the timing that is best for you, but remember sometimes the timing is not always in your control. If you wait until later, it may take a lot longer than you anticipated, as it did for my husband and me. Rather than waste my energy on guilt, I focus on being a role model for my daughters. For them to grow up seeing a mother that has balance and loves going to work every day is an invaluable lesson. Although it is hard, make sure to take some time for yourself each day – even if it is 10 minutes to exercise, meditate, read or whatever it is that you like to do. You will be a better mom, wife and business person if you do. Stay grounded and don’t sweat the small stuff – be flexible but stay focused on the big picture. If you love what you do and surround yourself with supportive people, you will be successful at work and at home.