In this Women Who Wow profile, get to know Devora Lindeman, an employment lawyer in private practice at Greenwald Doherty LLP.
Devora practices management-side labor and employment law. Her practice is focused on advising both for-profit and non-profit clients on day-to-day employment challenges that arise when businesses have employees, such as discrimination and harassment complaints, accommodations to individuals with disabilities or who are pregnant, compliance with employee leave laws, wage and hour issues, and issues related to recruiting and hiring, performance management and discipline, terminations and layoffs.
Devora is one of the few lawyers on LinkedIn who have successfully built a brand and following on the platform through her posts. She even has a hashtag that you can follow on LinkedIn (#DevLInTheDetails).
We met on LinkedIn during the pandemic (where else?) – I became a big fan of her unique voice on the platform where she stands out in a sea of sameness.
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Why did you choose your profession?
Being a lawyer is my third or fourth career – depending on how you count. My mom expected me to be a lawyer and follow in my father’s footsteps because I liked to argue. But I wanted to be a ballerina. So – I became a dancer, and even went to college as a dance and choreography major.
That didn’t work out as I expected, and I wound up dropping out of college and going to work in a number of administrative positions. I eventually wound up working as a paralegal in my dad’s law practice. One day, he turned to me and said “if you were a lawyer, I could send you to this deposition.” I had never thought about going to law school until that moment. I was enjoying what I was doing, looked into what was needed, and the rest is history.
But that’s how and why I became a lawyer. My profession I consider to be helping businesses and organizations get on with the business of their business while remaining compliant with the multiple laws that apply when you have employees.
As a management-side employment lawyer, I help make our clients’ workplaces work. I chose this field because it was something I knew – the field of work. I didn’t want to argue about why the widgets didn’t arrive on Tuesday. I couldn’t see myself doing criminal law, and divorce/family law to me was too emotionally messy (although sometimes letting a long-time employee go can be like going through a divorce!).
After law school I clerked for a federal magistrate judge for a year without knowing what I was going to do when the clerkship ended. The judge suggested labor and employment law as a field I might enjoy – and he was right. I got a job as an associate at a management-side labor and employment firm and never looked back.
What do you love most about what you do?
That I get to help people. I give a lot of advice and counseling. I hand-hold my clients through tricky situations with their employees, ghost write emails and memos, provide talking points for tough conversations and generally guide them through different, usually challenging situations. I love that I’m making a difference in my clients’ lives and supporting our business community, which is a backbone of our society.
How has social media helped you build your business/brand?
I post on LinkedIn almost daily, which I started during the COVID-19 pandemic. I apparently have a fan club. Periodically, someone who had not previously engaged on the platform will comment “I love your posts. I read them daily and look forward to them.”
My intention is to spread positivity, sprinkled with a bit of labor and employment advice, one LinkedIn post at a time. I believe I am doing that. I appreciate the community I’ve developed on LinkedIn.
Any advice to women about succeeding in the workplace?
You have a voice. Use it. Don’t take it for granted that anyone is looking out for you. You need to look out for yourself.
Be helpful. What can you do to contribute to your workplace? But make sure you find out what is needed and wanted from both your supervisors and your co-workers. Usually, do that – but use your judgment. If what is wanted is people who shut up, keep their heads down and just do their work, you need to know. Decide if that’s the right place for you. Leaving a job is a new beginning – not just an ending. Don’t be afraid of change.
What do you wish you could tell your younger self?
Don’t worry. Keep going. It will all work out just fine.
What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?
Your first job doesn’t have to be your last job.
How do you achieve work/life balance?
I actually don’t believe in work/life “balance.” Work is a part of life. They are not two different things.
Everyone needs to determine how they want to spend their daily 24 hours in a way that works for them. Some people thrive when they throw themselves into their work a majority of the time and it invigorates them. That said, you can’t forget that without your physical, mental, spiritual and emotional health all in a good place, you can’t do anything else.
I endeavor to eat well, get enough sleep, exercise, get outside and look around at the beauty (I live in farm country), make time to connect with friends and family, and feed my soul.
What do you think is the key for success in a role like yours?
As a partner in a law firm, a key to success is good leadership and communication skills. You need to be able to work with the team in a way that inspires everyone to be their best, strive for more, and get the client work done properly and in a timely manner.
Becoming a partner usually means there’s more you need to take on with regard to the running of the firm. You are no longer just a work-horse attorney servicing clients.
Generally, you would already have a book of business, so you know something about business development and client service. But now you also need to know about the business of a business. To be successful, you need to take the time to learn those skills if you don’t already have them.