Learn more about Jennifer Schaller, the co-founder and managing director of the National Law Review in this Women Who Wow profile.
Why did you choose your profession?
I chose to be an attorney, I didn’t really seek out to be a publisher. I was laid off as an in-house counsel when my company merged into its parent company right at the start of the ‘great recession.’ Shortly after being laid off, I found out I was pregnant with my 3rd child – then a few weeks later my husband was laid off. It’s not easy finding work as an attorney during a recession when you’re visibly pregnant.
Myself and a group of other corporate attorneys had developed an intranet to clip and classify legal news which was used at various Chicago companies and since we were getting approached by law firms to include their content on the intranet – we decided to launch it as a public news website and partnered with an established name brand, and the National Law Review was born. Sienna was born a few weeks later.
What do you love most about what you do?
It’s so exciting when folks, especially women start or re-launch their careers at the National Law Review and go on to do some really extraordinary things. Additionally, I’m really proud of how many of the law firms we partnered with when we launched the National Law Review are still clients, 10 years later – I have an incredible team who really work hard to do right by our clients.
Tell us about a woman you look up to and why.
Nancy Pelosi, four-term speaker of the house, was seriously challenged about remaining speaker of the house in 2016 and where would the country be without her experience during those turbulent years. She was also challenged in 2018, but not as aggressively, finally at age 80 she won the speakership without a challenge. It sometimes takes the ladies a little longer to establish themselves. In 2007 when she first won the speakership, she presided over an 84 percent male house, in 2021 the house is 72 percent male, so baby steps.
Do you have a mentor?
Yes, the general counsel I worked for at a company in a very male dominated industry and company. She was very tenacious, was always incredibly prepared and just let things roll off her back.
Any advice to young women who want to succeed in the workplace?
Be prepared to work harder and let the little things go. Idiots inevitably fall on their own swords. Speak up and take credit for and advocate for your ideas. Be nice, people remember little niceties.
What do you wish you could tell your younger self?
Overlook all the people who have preconceived notions of what you are capable of. It’s a hoot to blow them all away. Think big, not just survival.
What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?
It’s a blessing to have a strong work ethic.
How do you achieve work/life balance?
I’m truly blessed with a great work team, in a very short time frame I had my dad, mom and an aunt all have serious illnesses and then passed away, I wouldn’t have a business left without my team. Also, I just need to let some opportunities pass by and while it is mentally challenging not to go after every opportunity, I know it will be ok.
How has social media helped you build your brand?
It’s a gamechanger. It’s invaluable to have so many platforms to get your message out there and cross pollinate and when you combine that with thought leadership and speaking engagements, you can create and own your brand.
Which woman most inspires you and why?
Oprah, such a rough upbringing and she made some early mistakes – and now she has her own category without any peers.
What do you think is the key for success in a role like yours?
Do your research and then trust your gut and try to find the smartest and nicest people to work with.
What advice would you give to women in your field?
You’re only as successful as your reputation and your relationships. Always go for the win-win, don’t expect people to just do things for you, provide a value proposition.