“These indelible problems can be overcome” –Lt. Governor on workplace inclusion, National Association of Women Lawyers Conference

The National Association of Women Lawyers concluded their first Seattle conference yesterday evening with closing remarks and a one-on-one “fireside chat” Q&A with Lt. Governor Habib, who shared stories, lessons learned, and advice, from his personal journey to public service.

The NAWL conference featured over 200 accomplished female lawyers, many of whom represent major Washington-based companies, including Microsoft, T-Mobile, Amazon, and Weyerhaeuser. Topics of discussion centered on promoting opportunities for women in the legal profession, and overcoming social barriers to professional success.

To address these issues, the Lt. Governor noted both the advantages and disadvantages he experienced growing up with childhood cancer and blindness within the context of a supportive family and well-funded social services. His particular advantage, he said, was having a mother who was not only a strong example herself of hard work and success – she is a lawyer and a judge – but who also made a profound effort to share her knowledge with him. Starting law school the same day her son began kindergarten, she shared her law texts with him in the form of creative, distracting stories while her son underwent chemotherapy.  

When asked about lessons learned, Lt. Governor Habib said that he had begun his legal career with a tendency to move quickly from one professional role to another, not diving as deeply as he might have liked to fully develop within a single area. He said that the role of Lt. Governor provided the perfect opportunity to do just that: to take a long-term approach to developing subject-matter expertise, and to make a lasting impact in Washington.

Lt. Governor Habib’s final advice on making the workplace more inclusive was this: advocate for yourself when you know you should be included, though others may not at first understand. Though this requires extra effort, he said, with that effort always comes new opportunities — and with those opportunities, “these indelible problems can be overcome.”