Alexis Robertson is the next Woman Who Wows. I met Alexis through LinkedIn and have admired her thoughtful posts. It’s another reason why online networking is so important – she lives in Chicago and I live in NYC but I feel very connected to her.
She is currently the director of diversity & inclusion for Foley & Lardner LLP where she provides firm-wide strategic direction and oversight on all diversity and inclusion related matters.
Alexis joined Foley from Baker McKenzie, where she was North America manager of Diversity & Inclusion. Prior to joining Baker McKenzie, Alexis spent two years as a Legal Recruiting Director for The Partners Group where she focused on placing diverse attorneys with law firms and corporations.
Alexis earned her law degree from the University of Michigan Law School and practiced with Kirkland & Ellis and Seyfarth Shaw following graduation. She earned her undergraduate degree from the American University in Washington, D.C.
Learn more about her.
Do you have a mentor?
Not in a traditional sense. I do not have a single person, or small group of people, that I can point to as being my professional mentors. Instead, I’ve been fortunate to receive great advice from friends and colleagues at key inflection points in my career.
Also, as someone who has now switched careers three times, I’m not sure how useful a traditional mentoring relationship would have been. I’ve hit a point where I do not seek to emulate anyone else’s career and have come to accept that my path is my own. Although, I balance this by constantly listening to podcasts and reading books on personal and professional development.
What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?
When I was a summer associate a Kirkland & Ellis, a senior woman partner took me and another summer associate to lunch. She told us that the biggest mistake junior associates made was to think that they could work exceptionally hard for 3-4 years and then “scale it back” later in order to “have a life.” She said this was a terrible approach and that it was key to maintain what was important to you. She gave the example of a cooking class she took one night a week as an associate.
She then went on to explain the perils of thinking you could later scale back. The problem with this approach is that when you did decide to scale back a few years in, it would not seem like you were merely becoming more balanced but that you were slipping—you’d already set the expectation that you are the associate who always responds to 2am email. Years later, when you’re no longer available for those late night requests, it’s not necessarily going to be well-received.
Thus, her advice was to maintain at least some boundaries from the beginning. (Of course, this was within reason.)
I never forget that advice. While I worked hard and was extremely responsive, I never endeavored to be the associate that was “always on.”
What advice would you give to women in your field?
As cliché as it sounds, my advice is that success in your professional and in life, just in general, all comes down to self-love. Ideally you get to a place where you absolutely and unabashedly love yourself. If you do, you will not need or seek external validation. Instead, you’ll do what you do because you enjoy it or because it’s calling you. And that is what will lead to success. It will give you the grit and passion to keep moving, because you’re doing it for no one other than for yourself.