Featured Member– Lisa Jerles

There are so many different ways to measure success. Women know this better than anyone, and Lisa Jerles downright epitomizes it. A commercial litigator with a truly impressive track record, she left her firm to find meaning on her own terms, prioritizing growth and connectedness, positivity and joy over the thrill—and rancor—of legal combat. We can’t wait to see what she does on this next step of her professional journey—because it’s the journey that matters most. 
Tell us your work story: Who are you and what do you do? 
I was a commercial litigator for ten years with a specialty in business development and strategic planning. I am looking to make a change away from the combative nature of litigation and am currently consulting, using my skills to help businesses improve and grow.
What is your proudest professional accomplishment?
I won a major hearing for a small business to enforce a non-compete agreement between my client and a former employee. Former counsel had lost, but I renewed the motion and won the case. It was a proud moment because the client had very limited resources and I took the case as a favor for a mutual friend. It was very rewarding to provide high-quality legal work for a client who would ordinarily not be able to afford someone who could advocate effectively on their behalf.
What is the hardest challenge you’ve faced, work-wise? 
Leaving my firm. I am very good at what I do and my former partners contact me regularly to gauge my interest in returning. But I got tired of the hostility of litigation. Although I am good at it, it brings negativity into my life that does not comport with my “second shift” as a mom.
If you could change one thing about how your given field operates, particularly with regards to women, what would it be, and why?
The legal profession is riddled with sexism. For example, I was told by a client I got paid too much because I was wearing expensive shoes. But the real problem lies with the younger lawyers—men whose wives stay home and they can’t fathom the juggling that comes with being a six-figure earner and the primary parent. I have been so lucky to be at a firm owned by men whose wives had very successful careers so they pioneered flextime and telecommuting. But, overall, as an industry law has a long way to go.
What advice do you have for other women looking to make a career change but are afraid or lack confidence? How is it on the other side?
I can’t answer this. I don’t feel like I’m on the other side yet.