Women's Leadership InitiativeQ&A with Leigh Anne Williams

Leigh Anne has defended claims on a wide range of employment laws and issues, including discrimination, retaliation, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act and other wage and hour laws, as well as labor arbitrations and unfair labor practice charges

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

Labor and employment law has a fantastic human element to it. Every person’s relationship with his or her employer is very personal. Those interpersonal dynamics make my work incredibly interesting and varied. I also like the combination of helping clients with their compliance and counseling needs to avoid litigation, but also being able to defend them in litigation if a lawsuit is filed.

What are the biggest issues women lawyers face?

I think women (and men, too) can sometimes feel pressured to conform to the behaviors and choices that the vast majority of lawyers have made over the years, and which are now characteristics of the so-called ideal lawyer—e.g. working all hours, a bit of machismo, etc. That may be because it’s encouraged, or it’s expected, or we’re all trying our best to fit in. That culture needs to be inclusive of other effective means of representing our clients. That level of inclusiveness will never change unless the profession and its most experienced leaders hold up the mirror and ask which behaviors and choices they are rewarding and incentivizing, and whether those behaviors and choices are in line with the inclusiveness our profession desperately needs. This is an issue that isn’t exclusively faced by women, but it is one that disproportionately affects them.

Tell us about your favorite thing to do outside of work.

I’m a huge baseball fan. Columbus has a fantastic ballpark where the Columbus Clippers play as the AAA affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. Although family schedules make it difficult to get a full season pass, we attend as many games there as we can in the summer. On any given summer evening, I’m typically watching a baseball game on TV as well if I’m not at a Clippers game.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?

Candidly, it’s not something I focus on. Instead, I try to be the best version of the role I’m in at the moment—being the best mom I can be when I’m with my kids; being the best attorney I can be when I’m with my clients. When the inevitable overlap happens, I take it in stride and have confidence that I’m doing the best I can. It helps that I enjoy what I do, I often don’t feel like I’m working.

Complete the sentence: “If I wasn’t an attorney, I would be a…”

I would be a librarian, but I would want to be the sort of librarian who organizes new collections and works in an old, ornate library. That would feed my love of history, organizing things, and old buildings.