In this Women Who Wow profile, get to know mid-size law firm Parker Ibrahim & Berg’s Partner and Director of Litigation Procedures (East Coast), Tracy DeWitt.
Tracy works closely with the heads of PIB Law’s litigation team in the day-to-day management of the firm’s East Coast litigation portfolio and the implementation of firm litigation policies and procedures. Tracy brings more than 25 years of litigation experience to her role. Connect with her on LinkedIn.
What do you love most about what you do?
I practiced as a litigator for 17 years before I moved into the management/operations side of law. Being in a supporting role, rather than on the front lines of litigation is much more fitting for my personality. Rules and procedures are comforting for me, whereas litigating comes with a lot of uncertainty.
As the Director of Litigation Procedures, I work closely with all branches of the firm, from senior management to junior associates and supporting staff.
I am at a point in my career where I have acquired a significant body of knowledge in the areas in which my firm practices, and it is very satisfying to be able to share that with junior attorneys and to have my opinions valued by the firm’s executive committee and other members of senior management.
Do you have a mentor?
My first mentor in the legal profession was the owner at my first firm. He was a very colorful character – a bit infamous in my hometown, but he gave me opportunities as a first year associate that I most likely would not have had at other firms.
Under his guidance, I conducted two divorce trials in my first year and he taught me invaluable lessons about the practice of law. He also taught me how to be assertive, yet professional and collegial with adversaries.
I feel it’s valuable to have a mentor regardless as to where you are in your career. Today, I am fortunate to be working closely with our COO, Chris Sweet. He is highly skilled and knowledgeable in many areas, but of most interest to me, in data analytics and people management. I am learning as much as I can from him.
Any advice to young women about succeeding in the workplace?
Be assertive in your career. Anecdotally, I find that women tend to be less assertive than men when it comes to asking for what they want or need, so my advice would be, do not wait for someone to offer the position, the promotion or the raise.
Likewise, don’t be afraid to acknowledge when you need help or a break. I’ve seen many instances of female attorneys taking on assignments that their less busy male counterparts turned down, out of a subconscious fear of saying “no.”
What do you think is the key for success in a role like yours?
Being pro-active, self-motivated and anticipating what value-add I can provide to my superiors or clients before they even realize the value. We have a saying at my firm that you are auditioning for a role that has not even been invented. And that is what happened to me.
When I originally stepped into the operations side of the firm in 2013, the position did not even have a title and was far from well-defined.
Over the years, my role morphed through many iterations into what it is today as I identified areas where I could add value to the firm. My current role is literally what I made it and has elevated me to senior management in the firm.
How has the pandemic changed you?
Just prior to the pandemic, I was feeling strung out and pulled in a million different directions, not necessarily by work, but by life in general and I remember saying “just make it stop for six weeks. That’s all I need – six weeks.” I got my wish and then some.
Overall, I am more mindful of how fortunate I am – I am in good health, I have supportive family and friends, I love my job and I work at a firm that has truly supported its employees throughout the pandemic.
Like many people, I’ve also re-evaluated what’s important to me and what I ultimately want out of life. My parents and siblings all live in Canada, and I went for over two years without seeing them. So, one of my goals going forward will be to visit them more often.