Margaret (Meg) Campbell, Shareholder, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.
How long have you been working for your current company?
Briefly explain your career history and what led you to your current position.
I clerked for the Firm after my second year of law school, joined as an associate the following year, and became a Shareholder (at the time, a Partner) in 1986. I served as the Firm’s first General Counsel, served two terms on the Board of Directors, and now am the National Co-Chair of the Ethics Compliance and Whistleblower Response Practice Group and also Regional Co-Chair of the Class and Collective Action Practice Group.
What is your proudest professional achievement and why?
Because our primary focus is always on our clients, I am proudest of the results we have achieved with and for clients over the years, including innovative solutions and cutting-edge developments in the law. At the same time, I also am very proud of my role in the life of the firm, helping to manage it to become the major firm that it is today, while ensuring that its unique culture and ethic remain as strong as ever.
What are the greatest challenges that you face in your current role and what do you do to overcome them?
My greatest challenges in my current role relate to answering and making time for different internal constituencies that need my time, while trying to maintain a revenue-productive volume of client work as well.
How difficult is it for you personally to attain work-life balance and how do you endeavour to do this?
It is certainly much more manageable now than it was at earlier stages in my career and in the lives of my children. As I learned years ago, one just does first what one needs to do first and keeps on down the list until what needs to be done has been done.
Did you have a mentor or role model in your career or while you were studying law? Who were they and how did they help you?
I have had both during my practice. As for my mentor, although we had no formal program in the early 1980’s, I watched, listened to, and learned from my senior partner, Homer Deakins, for the right way to counsel clients, litigate cases, and deal with my internal and external colleagues. As for a role model, I would say I drew lessons from many, but with regard to work-life balance (such as it was in those days), I watched and learned from - and got much advice from - the first woman shareholder in our firm, Martha Perrin.
How effective do you think corporate diversity initiatives are? What methods do you think are most effective and why?
I think there is tremendous variability in the effectiveness of corporate diversity initiatives. I think the most effective ones are those that value inclusion and emphasize mutual respect and professionalism among all employees, but also offer support for individual development that includes addressing the challenges and opportunities attendant to one’s particular diverse characteristics. Numbers-driven, window-dressing, or punitive initiatives are counter-productive, as are programs in which diversity is a zero-sum game.
Were there any points in your career when you felt you were at a disadvantage or at an advantage because you were female?
Probably, but I didn’t dwell on it in either case.
What do you think have been the most significant changes for women in the legal industry over the past five years?
The most significant recent change has been the increase in the number of women in senior in-house positions who are able to make outside counsel choices. In general, that gives women outside counsel a better chance to be in the running for selection, and thus to enhance their standing and power in their own law firms. Those factors increase the likelihood that we will move to the point when we conquer some of the difficult issues facing women regarding advancement and management roles in private law firms.