Manatt’s Donna L. Wilson, CEO and Managing Partner of the firm, was featured on ALM’s Legal Speak podcast along with her life partner Linda Kornfeld, co-chair of Blank Rome’s insurance recovery practice. Together, Wilson and Kornfeld discussed how they balance thriving legal careers and family life, their experiences as openly gay attorneys, and the legal industry’s meaningful strides in diversity and inclusion.
When discussing the challenges that lawyers can face when balancing the demands of work and family, Wilson noted that professionals should not settle or accept that something is impossible, adding that having a supportive work environment with understanding and supportive mentors is critical.
“My view is that you can have it all,” said Wilson. “I always wanted to have a wonderful partner, a family, and an exciting and challenging career. Luckily for me, I have a law firm and colleagues that have enabled me to achieve that, along with a supporting partner and family.”
Kornfeld mirrored Wilson’s sentiments, stating that “there is no question that starting with the people at work and having a supportive work environment is key.”
“That’s the starting point—the work environment. And then obviously at home is working together to put a structure in place that allows you and everyone in the family unit—whether human or animal—to survive the jobs that we have.”
On the change in how women have been perceived in Big Law, Wilson explains why it’s important to consider diversity and inclusion as distinct yet equally important terms.
“You can have diversity, but if you’re really not inclusive—bringing people into opportunities and being consciously inclusive and mindfully inclusive—then you really won’t have true equality,” Wilson said. “At Manatt, we really try to be consciously inclusive. Whether it’s a client pitch team or a meaningful leadership position, it’s not just about racking up numbers on a board—it’s about putting [diverse] people in decision-making positions.”
Listen to the full podcast here.