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
After leaving the corporate world, Kate was determined to master writing and riding, pastimes that often led to confusion in the telling. Her studies of creative writing proved to be more successful than her horseback adventures which included a broken leg! However, her love of horses remains.
Kate also took the opportunity to be more fully involved with her son’s life – too involved, he would say. She enjoyed watching scores of soccer games and cheering his team on to a divisional state championship. All grown up now, her son lives in Eastern Europe and teaches English as a second language.
In addition to Terminal Ambition, Kate writes on women’s issues for a number of online sites. Her essays have appeared in Role/Reboot, Jezebel, Fem2pt0, Women’s Media Center and Ms. JD. You can follow her on Twitter @womnsrightswrtr.
Kate lives in a utopian community in the Midwest with her husband, dogs and innumerable squirrels.