About Kate McGuinness
Kate’s Legal Career
Kate McGuinness practiced law in courtrooms, conference rooms and boardrooms. Despite sexual harassment and discrimination, she fought her way to success.
Kate started her career as an intern in with the municipal attorney’s office of large American city where she prosecuted misdemeanors. Following graduation from law school, she joined a major international law firm. After seven years in the trenches, she was invited to join the partnership, becoming one of only a handful of female partners among the firm’s equity owners who numbered more than a hundred.
Her practice ranged from leveraged buyouts to securities offerings to acquisitions to bankruptcies to investigations of corporate malfeasance. Her work took her from Los Angeles to London with frequent stops in New York City, Dallas and Denver.
After seventeen years at the firm, a Fortune 500 company recruited Kate to serve as its General Counsel. The position came with an office on the executive floor where she was the only female officer. Mercifully, the other women there filled her in on who was doing what to whom! Kate left the company following a corporate restructuring.
Kate’s Passion for Women’s Rights
Kate encountered street harassment as a young woman living overseas. It frightened her, but more than that, it made her angry. The silver lining of the crude gestures and catcalls of another culture was that they made much of the harassment she faced as a lawyer seem toothless.
Gender discrimination became personal for Kate when she needed a job when she relocated to Southern California. A local employment agency advertised a number of openings, including one for a stockbroker trainee. In violation of Title VII, she was told they “didn’t hire women for that.” However, the agency mentioned it had a job she might be qualified for, but they had to see her first. Given the “viewing” would require a long bus ride, Kate pressed as to the nature of the job. Despite her questions, the agency refused to disclose the type of position.
If you’re guessing a stripper, you’re close. The job was being a receptionist for a group of plastic surgeons. Needing an income, Kate accepted. The nature of the position was the first of a series of lessons in being objectified.
One female patient asked her which of the doctors had “done her breasts.”
When Kate responded that her mother got credit for her figure, the patient was undeterred.
“Okay, but what’s your name?”
“I’m going to tell the doctor, I want Kate-sized breasts.”
Immediately, Kate began to research other career options. The pre-veterinary counselor at the local university advised against that profession because vet schools accepted very few women.
Kate grew up in a blue-collar family and had never met a lawyer, but law school became her default choice. It proved to be a good one.
Kate’s Life After the Law
A corporate restructuring gave Kate the opportunity to consider whether she was living her values. She decided to focus on raising her son and to explore interests only imagined during her childhood. (Her passion for horseback riding cooled after she was dragged by her ankle up a logging trail!) Once she had aged out of “soccer mom” activities and given up her cowgirl ways, she concentrated on writing.
Kate also blogs extensively to share with others what she learned in the rough and tumble of her profession as well as in the havoc her career worked on her marriage. She addresses issues that are of special concern to women such as being the primary breadwinner, succeeding in a male-dominated workplace and deciding when or whether to have children. These essays and others have appeared in publications such as The Guardian, The Huffington Post, Women’s Media Center, Forbes, Above the Law, Trebuchet, JD Supra, Fem 2.0, Role/Reboot, Ms. JD, Jezebel and The Girls Guide to Law School. She tweets as @K8McGuinness.
In addition to writing, Kate spends her time coaching women. She offers personalized results-oriented coaching programs for those who are looking to step up to leadership positions, those wanting to improve their job performance, and those wanting a new job, a new career or a new way to thrive in today’s demanding workplace. You can learn more about this at Empowered Women Coaching.
Kate’s goal is to follow the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson. “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
The “difference” she hopes to make is to improve the lives of women.