Female Disruptors: Shaking Up the Legal Market Without Compromising Life Balance

Kelly Rittenberry Culhane, one of our four founding partners, was recently interviewed by Thrive Global about how she balances her personal life while co-managing the largest national full-service women-owned law firm in the country. The following are some brief excerpts and you can read her entire interview HERE.

What is it about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

What is disruptive about the work we are doing at Culhane Meadows is the opportunity delivered to exceptionally talented attorneys seeking a level playing field that fairly — and transparently — compensates them and enables them to maintain a sophisticated book while enjoying a healthy work/life balance. I‘ve seen firsthand so many brilliant people, especially women, pushed aside or held back in their careers simply because they wanted to be present in their kids’ lives. All too often, the opportunity to attend an event at their kids’ school or take a full weekend off are ‘luxuries’ that lawyers with sophisticated practices simply don’t enjoy. I knew there was a large pool of talented attorneys who chose to leave Big Law — not because they weren’t great lawyers, but because they didn’t fit within the confines of conventional Big Law partnership culture. I also knew there were partners at Big Law who were ready for a life change. They’d spent their careers building prestigious books while compromising life balance. We, at Culhane Meadows, wanted to tap into this pool of talented lawyers to create a national law firm that truly disrupted the legal marketplace, professionally and personally, while changing the way legal services are provided. And we wanted to do it without forcing partners to sacrifice work/life balance. A win/win for clients and attorneys!

Can you share some of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example.

“Subtract, don’t add.”Although I have always prided myself on my ability to ‘multitask,’ I think we all know that really means doing many things just “OK.” I was recently asked to serve as chair of a board that is near and dear to my heart. I ran the idea by my dear friend and co-founder, Jim Meadows, who, knowing that I already was way overcapacity, reminded me to: “Subtract, don’t add.” Sometimes you have to let an opportunity go to maintain control of your life and to keep your eye on the prize. When I get to a place where I’m overwhelmed or taking on too much, I simply say (out loud) “Subtract, don’t add.”



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