NCAJ Executive Director Kim Crouch says there are three words that capture the spirit of women in law today: confidence, competence and resilience.
In this episode, recorded during the Fourth Annual NCAJ Women's Caucus Retreat, host Amber Nimocks leads a powerful discussion about the past, present, and hopeful future for women attorneys. Her guests, Judge Linda McGee and Kim Crouch, have both held leadership roles for NCAJ.
Kim says the biggest challenges now facing women attorneys are work-life balance and supporting other women in law.
“The next big chapter for women in the profession is going to be for women to be able to lean on other women, to continue to support other women, and for all of us to lift one another up,” Kim says.
For women entering the field today, Judge McGee has nothing but kind words.
“[These women] have already seen challenges,” she says. “They've been leaders. They've been active. They've been involved. They want to give to others. They need to be able to pat themselves on the back about the things that they've already accomplished. They've gotten through law school, they’ve passed the bar, and they're out there ready to practice law. So I think they need to feel proud of those accomplishments already.”
Judge McGee encourages new graduates to follow their passions, find what will bring them the most joy in their next career move, and be open to where the journey leads.
First Guest: Judge Linda M. McGee
What she does: Winner of NCAJ’s Outstanding Appellate Judge Award and many other distinguished honors, Judge McGee served on the North Carolina Court of Appeals for 26 years. Prior to that, she was a trial lawyer in Boone, NC for 17 years.
Words of wisdom: “You just never know what opportunities are going to be available to you when you're involved with [a professional] organization. It grows and extends, and it adds to your enjoyment of your practice of law. And you're able to do the things that so many of us went to law school for, and that is to help other people.”
Second Guest: Kim Crouch
What she does: Kim is currently the executive director of NCAJ, supporting its mission to empower a strong community of trial lawyers across North Carolina. She also serves on the board of the North Carolina Equal Access to Justice Commission and on the Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism.
Company: North Carolina Advocates for Justice
Words of wisdom: “I remember coming up in the ‘90s, [the message] was, You can have it all. And I think now in 2022, you hear the message, You can have it all, just not all at once. I think that over the past 20-25 years, the discourse has changed around the expectations there. And I think it's a very positive thing.”
Top takeaways from this episode
[01:49] Guests for Women’s History Month: Host Amber Nimocks introduces guests Judge Linda McGee and Kim Crouch.
[03:29] Judge McGee’s history with NCAJ: Judge McGee talks about what drew her to working with the NCAJ, when it was known as the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers.
[06:36] Kim’s background with NCAJ: Before officially joining NCAJ in 2017, Kim was engaged with the community and connected with the shared sentiment to “help the little guy.”
[09:12] Being the only woman in the room: When Judge McGee was in law school in the 1970s, it was common for her to be the only woman in the room. She feels numbers are improving now, but it’s still more common to see men attorneys in court.
[11:30] Finding support in other women: Judge McGee was a founding member of the North Carolina Association of Women Attorneys. Founded in the late 1970s, the group continues to encourage women to become judges.
[13:07] The road ahead for women: Kim speaks to some of the challenges and opportunities that women attorneys face in the near future, such as supporting each other and work-life balance.
[14:51] Advice for today’s women law graduates: Judge McGee wants today’s law graduates to be proud of what they’ve already achieved, and look for what is going to make them happiest.
[17:54] Taking pride in your work: Kim discusses the importance of self-confidence and sharing accomplishments, something that is traditionally hard for women to do.
[21:17] The future of NCAJ: Kim hopes that NCAJ continues to be a relevant resource for lawyers throughout North Carolina, and for the citizens those lawyers represent.
Voices of NCAJ features intimate and inspiring conversations with organization members in celebration of its 60th anniversary.
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