Since she was a child, Molly Lavin knew she wanted to be an attorney. Watching her father, she was fascinated by what he did as a defense attorney.
But it wasn’t until law school and later being in a courtroom that she found her true calling as a trial attorney.
“I’m definitely more suited to be a plaintiff’s attorney,” said Lavin, an attorney and partner at Habush Habush & Rottier SC, Waukesha. “I really enjoy getting up in front of a judge and jury and trying a case.”
Lavin uses that passion for trying cases to get more women involved in trial law. She uses both informal and formal mentoring to share her own story of success.
“When you’re a trial lawyer and you look around, you’ll often find you’re the only woman in the firm or, if you’re lucky, there might be another one,” she said. “Too few women attorneys pursue trial law.”
The reasons, she said, include the intense time commitment involved.
“Women worry about the family commitments and that trial law not only takes a lot of time, but a lot of energy. I try to share the message, ‘It can be done,’” Lavin said.
One way to do that is to ask for help, she said.
“You can’t go it alone. You need to learn it’s OK to ask for rides to help get your kids somewhere,” said Lavin, who has two children and is involved at their school and in other activities. “Women feel like they need to be the best at everything — the best mom, the best lawyer, the best volunteer at school — but you need to pick your battles.”
One place Lavin has found help is through the Women Association of Justice Women’s Caucus. With that group, she said women can share their concerns, successes and ask for feedback.
“I really want to encourage more female law students and young attorneys to look at trial law as a career path,” she said. “… Women make great trial lawyers. We are good listeners and think very strategically.”
Lavin said trying cases — especially ones involving a death — make her realize the importance of striking the right work-life balance.
“Those cases help you put things in focus,” she said, “and help you realize what’s important and help you strive to do what you can to make sure you’re not only doing your best in the office, but also making sure there’s still plenty of time for family and other activities.”