Commercial lawyer and working mother finds balance through Axiom
By Axiom Law
Marcia is a working mother with almost three decades of legal experience, specializing in commercial, regulatory, and contract law. As a mother of four working with Axiom, she can simultaneously cultivate different aspects of her life, allowing her to devote quality time with family while still excelling at meeting her clients’ rigorous demands.
When Marcia joined Axiom, she already had twenty years of commercial, regulatory, and contract law experience under her belt, both at large law firms and as in-house corporate counsel for several pharmaceutical companies. She also had an extensive background in intellectual property and antitrust litigation. However, she was looking for the often-elusive work-life balance.
“I used to be a workaholic when I was working in the law firm environment,” Marcia shares. “I didn’t start a family during those early years, because at that time, I couldn’t seem to establish boundaries or limits.” She struggled to create work-life boundaries and felt like both parts of her life were the worse for it. “My family and social life suffered because the law firm culture didn’t encourage balance or quality of life outside of work, and at that time, I couldn’t figure out how to excel simultaneously in both spheres.”
By the time she arrived at Axiom, Marcia had worked at several AmLaw firms in NYC, managed large-scale litigation matters, and transitioned to an in-house role supporting dozens of different clients in one day. She was accustomed to being agile and shifting gears in a fast-paced environment. Still, she was surprised to discover that motherhood helped her “up her game” even more. In fact, she remarks that juggling the dual responsibilities of her Axiom practice with parenting has helped her become even stronger in this arena. As an avid tennis fan and player, she likens it to becoming “match-fit,” saying, “I was always up for the intensity, but now I also have the stamina to go the distance – being a working mom does that for you.”
While attorneys brought in as outside support or counsel used to be somewhat stigmatized and stereotyped as lesser than or not being able to keep pace with law firms or in-house teams, Marcia easily dispelled that myth. “Axiom does a great job of shepherding us and helping clients to recognize our value at the inception of an engagement. So when we arrive, clients view us as attorneys who are there because we want to be, and they already know our resumes and experience are high-caliber and impressive. Our talents are proven on Day One, and that permits us to get right to work doing what we do best – I love that part.”
Looking at law through a different lens
When asked what attracted Marcia to law, her answer is twofold: “Law affects every aspect of people’s lives. And it isn’t simple like a textbook; it’s multi-faceted, dynamic, and always evolving – which makes it super-interesting and eternally relevant. An understanding of the law and growth in one’s practice comes from different experiences and supporting a wide variety of clients through the years has given me a breadth of experiences that I am able to draw from in both my day-to-day practice and also in my personal life. I love that most about the law.” She notes attorneys she’s met who work with Axiom appear to be the “crème de la crème.” That impression inspires her to always bring her A-game to every client engagement.
Marcia fondly recalls a long-term Axiom engagement at a large pharmaceutical company where she was able to provide direction and feedback during the launch of a new diabetes drug. Her collaborative role included selection of consumer campaign models, development of a script, and messaging for the television and print ad campaigns. It was an intense time for the team, marked by many competing business priorities and short timelines. However, she recalls that her prior firm and in-house experience helped her not only keep pace, but also to assume greater responsibility and a more visible role on the launch team – including attending the Product National Launch Meeting and editing the commercials. “It gave me such fulfillment to see those commercials aired, knowing I had been an integral part of the entire process.”
Her presence and extended support on another team has proven especially valuable throughout periods when the client has transitioned between marketing teams, launched new promotional campaigns, and faced new competition. “The loss of institutional knowledge is one of the greatest disruptions to any business. My support of the team almost since the beginning of their promotion of this brand has enabled me to bring to the discussion table the history of decisions the team and the company’s leadership have made in years prior – much of which is still relevant and salient today. I’d like to think that my consistency and stability – both core values for me – make me a greater asset and help me to serve as a bridge of sorts, especially since through the years, many of the marketing, medical, and regulatory team members have transitioned off the team and new ones have joined.” She laughs, “my clients often note how impressive it is that I have been with this particular team longer than any of the internal employees supporting the brand – so much for the notion of a ‘temp attorney!’ Axiom led to that algorithm shift. And some engagements lead to years of satisfying work. I love that about our model.”
She continues, sharing how the Axiom model of engaging experienced practitioners allows her to add value in a meaningful way: “in a space that is rapidly changing due to the advent of increased utilization of social media and influencers, it’s still important to recall the fundamental tenets of promotional advertising. The FDA expects us to meet those standards, irrespective of the media or platform. I can partner with my clients because of my broad-based experience and the fact that I have been a part of those conversations for years now. So, I can share that history with my teams as we collaborate to explore new messaging platforms and consider new campaigns moving forward.” She laughs again, “I gently remind them that ‘compliance’ is always trending.”
The unique and often novel issues Marcia handles for her current clients continue to be rigorous, but the changes she has helped implement at prior companies throughout her career, and her Axiom engagements, remain impactful on all sides. “I consider myself extremely fortunate that my clients appreciate what I bring to the table, along with my passion and background. I still have long days, but the way I work now is so much more rewarding.”
Balancing parenting, working in the COVID era
So, what exactly does Marcia’s juggling routine look like?
Today, Marcia has four children, ranging from ages nine to 15. “Axiom has helped me to evolve my career so I can live the life I aspire to and still continue to practice in a meaningful way,” she explains. “I am able to simultaneously pursue a fulfilling family life with a rewarding professional life. I am so grateful to have found Axiom because I simply couldn’t find that balance in a law firm environment. It energizes and inspires me.”
In her words, “It’s steeped in a lot of planning, multitasking, structure, routine, prioritization, of course some trial and error, and most of all setting limits and boundaries.”
“Axiom’s model made it so that, for me, 2020 and the continued pandemic hasn’t been as stressful, because I was already working remotely. In fact, in many ways, it actually made my clients appreciate my work more – because they gained a newfound appreciation of just how challenging it is and the self-discipline required to circumnavigate home distractions and learn how to manage a workday that has no real beginning or end.” While Marcia appreciates the flexibility a remote working model affords, like many others, she hopes to get back to some face-to-face time with clients, at least to connect for quarterly meetings, as restrictions gradually lift and businesses resume some of their pre-pandemic practices. “After quarantining and social-distancing for so long, I think we could all benefit from some much-needed face-to-face and in-person coffee breaks.”
As for the daily juggling routine required to tend to both her family and practice, Marcia finds they complement one another more than they compete. “I always wanted a large family; it was a childhood dream of mine. But I also really valued the voice and stimulating challenges I discovered in the practice of law, and I didn’t want to give that up after I became a mother. Some people might find balancing the two intimidating, but, for me, having both parts revved up and always going helps to keep me synchronized, like the happy exhaustion you feel after a great workout.” She continues, “In truth, being a parent has actually helped me to hone my executive skills in ways I never could’ve imagined. I’m not saying I never get ‘phased,’ but parenting four children requires so much of me on all levels, that it has irrevocably shifted my perspective of what constitutes ‘a hard day at work.’”
And she credits her parenting philosophy with advancing her own work ethic to strive for balance and focus each day. “I talk to them daily (and I do mean daily!) about time management and prioritization because our life and my livelihood depend on these bookends to hold everything together. As my children have gotten older, they’ve come to appreciate it.” Laughing, “and if they don’t yet, someday, they will!” And she finds her clients appreciate the sentiment of limits and boundaries, too. “They know I give them 100% when I am working and they respect that I give my family 100% when I am tending to my other passion and top priority – my family.”
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