Women's Leadership InitiativeQ&A with Molly Crabtree

Molly Crabtree has significant experience representing domestic and foreign companies with their complex litigation needs, including antitrust investigations and litigation, trade secret litigation and environmental administrative proceedings and litigation.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?

I grew up as one of four girls. I knew no gender role differences in my family, because we were all the same gender. I think that made me slow to even believe that there were people who thought less of women in certain situations or professions.  While I’ve had some startling lessons since then, I think it also allows me to approach situations with the assumption that the people I’m dealing with have no such attitudes. That positive benefit of the doubt takes a lot of focus off of my gender and points it at my skills. Also, I’m the youngest of those four girls. My psychological warfare skills are unparalleled.

What are the biggest issues women lawyers face?

Ourselves. We get so caught up in how we’re perceived, how we want to be perceived, and whether there is a “right” way to present ourselves, that we frankly forget how to present our truest selves. The right approach is the one that one that makes you feel challenged but powerful. That’s going to be different for every person. Are there stereotypes specifically about women? Yes. Are you a traitor to your gender if you admit you love wine or Harlequin romances? No. That makes you authentic, and that’s what will make you successful. You can also love big growly trucks. Or wine and big growly trucks. A little close to home now.

What advice would you give to women just starting out at a law firm?

My advice for any young associate is the same – work hard, diversify the people you work for, and seek natural mentors – not just those assigned to you. Look around in the first few years, and decide if there is someone whose career you particularly admire, then try to learn from that person. Generally, people like to be told they’re admired, and will help you.  Occasionally, they ask you to stop stalking them. Take the risk!

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

My family COOKS. We treat it as a competitive sport. I have an eleven year old daughter who is certain that my husband and I are terminally un-cool. There’s something about a pizza cook-off that gets us all communicating and laughing in a way rarely seen among families with pre-teens. “Almost twelve” is an unbelievably tough time to be a girl, and we relish (see what I did there?) any activity that shows her we care without humiliating her in front of her friends (which is a whole different pastime). In fact, I think she may even get a little confidence boost when her answer to “what did you do this weekend” is “I learned to slay a South African curry with my mom.”

If you had a theme song, what would it be?

The theme music for the People’s Court. 80’s version. If you don’t hear this in your head when you walk into court, are you really there to play?