Article: November '23: Kate the Great
November '23: Kate the Great
Introducing ALPHA BRAVA’s 'Employee of the Month' series, a set of candid conversations with women—from across all disciplines—who inspire us. We believe in nurturing genuine connection between professionals through vulnerability and personal stories. In these intimate interviews, our guests get deep about their journeys and obstacles, the best advice they’ve ever gotten, and the importance of community for women now more than ever.
Meet Kate. She’s a San Francisco litigator, Corgi mom, recreational-but-should-be-pro photographer… the list goes on. But no matter what hat she’s wearing, she always finds beauty in the little things.
Who are you?
A friend, daughter, sister, corgi mom, colleague, good listener, and recovering perfectionist.
What lights you up?
Learning something new - or gaining fresh understanding of something familiar.
I practice product liability litigation. These complex cases are challenging but also interesting, and give me an opportunity to connect with some of the best and brightest minds in various fields.
One thing you have to do in the morning before work?
Who or what has shaped you the most?
Every phase of life has been shaped by mentors, friends and challenges. One constant thread, I think, has been the loyalty and support from my closest friends, which I work hard to reciprocate. There is always something to learn from the people we love - and sometimes, they carry hope for us when we’re struggling.
We can’t help but admire your gorgeous photos. What are your most important outlets outside of work and what do they mean to you?
Aside from my dog and travel, I enjoy photography. Not in a professional sense, but I love creating a beautiful shot. I especially like to make something ordinary look extraordinary. There are so many small things in our daily lives that can be beautiful.
What do you consider the most underrated virtue in a woman?
Joyfulness. I don’t know if that is technically a virtue. But I will never forget sitting in a mediation and watching a male attorney walk into the room with a huge, infectious smile on his face. My immediate reaction was ‘I could never walk into this room like that.’ I felt that as a woman, I had to show I meant business. But being truly joyful doesn’t equate to being a pushover, and it brings everyone else up as well.
Amicability. This isn’t the same thing as joyfulness, but it can be hard to tell the difference. I think my aversion to showing joy, comfort, or kindness comes from fear that I will be cornered into being “nice.” But it’s not your responsibility to make everyone feel comfortable or satisfied all the time. Your comfort, satisfaction and desires should never be suppressed to maintain a status quo.
What is one pain point of being a woman in law?
All professional industries struggle to give authority to women - even if you carefully choose a law firm or company that does a great job, you’ll walk into a deposition or a hearing and still come up against people who don’t want to give you respect.
How do we overcome it?
Sexist, patriarchal expectations are often enforced by women against other women. The stakes are high, and sometimes women see threats in others where we should see potential community. Changing the way women interact is just as important as gaining the full respect of men.
What do you think when you hear “work-life balance”?
This looks different for everyone. There’s no perfect recipe, but I think the important thing is feeling more happiness and fulfillment than stress or frustration. When that tips out of balance, everything goes.
Best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?
There are no stupid questions. Engage, ask, and don’t be afraid to look foolish. Most of the time, everyone else just lacks the confidence to speak up.