Gail McCarthy didn’t have anyone telling her to lean in when she became an attorney 35 years ago. She just did.
“Less than 20 percent of my class was women when I went to law school,” said McCarthy, a shareholder at Hochstatter, McCarthy, Rivas & Runde. “We made it up as we went along, because we didn’t have a lot of role models as women attorneys.”
That is a big reason why she thinks the children of her generation of lawyers are so great. “They’ve grown up with moms who were improvising everything every day.”
In fact, McCarthy said, without the help of her family, she couldn’t have moved from working in legal services and representing farmers to helping to found a law firm and concentrating on immigration.
It helped that her legal partner and managing attorney, Tom Hochstatter, was dealing with the same troubles.
“He was facing the working parent issues as a dad,” McCarthy said.
So, by the time she had children of her own, “I was fortunate to be working with someone who not only understood what was going on but supported me in working part time, leaving work when I wanted to go to a soccer game. That culture has continued, and that has made my job possible.”
Her job is to represent businesses and professionals, typically scientists, engineers and information-technology specialists.
“I’ve had an unbelievable opportunity to learn about the world through my clients’ experiences from every continent. It’s an opportunity you couldn’t buy,” McCarthy said.
And she has been able to make a difference for people who want to contribute to the United States and its economy.
“I have enjoyed helping families stay together. I’ve enjoyed a company being able to keep an important talent and that talent be able to stay in the U.S. And I enjoy seeing our common humanity.
“… An American without much exposure outside the borders of another country may see a woman in a veil and make a certain set of assumptions,” McCarthy added. “It’s my privilege to know the person, know she has a PhD in a very sophisticated and challenging area and know that she’s on track to become a tremendous contributor to our society. That’s the kind of experience I wish other people would have.”
And her clients and colleagues are better for her experience.
“Whenever I have a judgment call, whether it’s legal or the administration of the law firm or personnel matters, she is always the one I go to first,” Hochstatter said.