Women's Leadership InitiativeQ&A with Jamie LaPlante

Jamie practices in all areas of management-side labor and employment law. She has defended employers in a variety of litigation matters, including breach of contract, whistleblower claims, and public policy violations as well as claims under Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and other state and federal laws and regulations. 

What was the single most important thing that made you want to focus on labor & employment law?

People. Labor and employment law is an entire practice area at the intersection between people in their workplaces and the law. There is never a dull moment in the calls for legal advice that we get, and no two fact patterns in legal disputes are ever the same. But that is more of why it ended up being the right practice area for me and why I made the right decision. Some of that I did not really know at the time I made my decision to focus on labor and employment law. More importantly, however, I made the decision to focus on labor and employment law at the end of my summer as a summer associate based on the people I thought I would like to work with. I always tell summer associates that it is easy to figure out what you would not like doing, but not so easy to figure out what you would like to do for the next thirty years of your life. I broke the tie between the areas I thought I might like based on the people I wanted to work with. It turned out to be the right decision because I could not imagine practicing another area of law. And I still work with a great group of people.

How has your previous experience helped you in your current role at Porter Wright? How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?

I think I have heard it said that the best generals remember what it was like to be foot soldiers. I think the same is true of my leadership style. I try to put myself in the shoes of every person that I am leading and consider the challenges and stumbling blocks they may face. More importantly, I try to imagine their perspective. Even in my short life thus far, I have had a lot of unique life experiences, including work experiences. I sometimes think that the worst jobs help form your character. I may regret admitting this, but I have worked (among other interesting part-time or temporary jobs) at a carnival (once), in a video game factory, and decorating holiday displays. Why do I mention this? Because I think a broad set of post-college work experiences made me a more well-rounded person. I am also thankful as a truly clumsy person that I opted against a career decorating Christmas trees because I think I almost got fired in my weeklong stint after dropping and breaking what seemed like a record number of ornaments.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?

Mentorship has had a profound impact on my professional life. Going to law school, I did not have a network of lawyers in my friends and family to tell me what to expect. In fact, I really only knew one lawyer really well. I have been blessed to have that person as a mentor to help guide me through various stages of my career—from listening to my stress about first year law school exams, grades, and summer associate interviews to collaborating on complex legal issues and strategies today. While the content of the discussions naturally has changed over time, it has had an invaluable role in developing my professional career.

If you could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would he/she be and why?

I am going to cheat and not pick a particular person, but instead choose a category of person. I always have had a fascination with World War II history and life on the home front during the war. I always thought it would be interesting to learn about the life experience of the so-called “Rosie the Riveter” and the women who were working manual labor “male” jobs out of necessity during the war then immediately pushed back into domestic life once the war was over. I think their life experience as pioneers in the working world would be fascinating to learn about. I also think their perspective on concepts like rationing and living in a time of world-wide conflict and change would be interesting. Today, I think it is impossible to imagine what their life would have been like. (As an aside, I think my answer is tainted by the fact that I recently read the book, War Brides, which presents the fictional perspective of World War II women in Great Britain.)