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October 24, 2011

Giving Beyond Her Profession

Kimberly Rozak

Partner, Mirick O'Connell, Worcester

From Nomination Form: "Attorney Rozak has served as a role model for other women associate attorneys by her combining family and a law practice. She has also mentored women associate attorneys in the firm. (She) also serves as a role model in the community by being a mother of two children, and at the same time having a successful professional career."

Q: Who is your most influential role model, and why?

A: There are plenty of people I admire but really no one that I have tried to emulate. That is not to say, however, that there aren’t people who have taught me lessons that I have put to good use in my professional life. Those lessons have accumulated over my life and career and have served me well. I can start with my parents, and it moves forward from there.

Q: Why are you good at what you do?

A: I have been successful as an attorney because I have had outstanding mentoring from other attorneys throughout my career, but particularly those with whom I worked in the early years of my career. In my first law firm position, I was extremely fortunate to work for a boutique labor and employment firm that was home to a small number of attorneys who specialized in this area of law. Equally important was their interest in cultivating my development and seeing me succeed, since at one point in my tenure there I was the only female attorney. I received all kinds of advice, including life advice like, “Make mistakes now, because it’s expected. Once you have a few more years under your belt, you can’t make those same mistakes again.”

My next position was with the Navajo Nation as an assistant attorney general, and that job required me to be a leader and role model to others whose work experience was less demanding and exacting than mine had been. In addition to learning a whole new body of law, I learned to be the minority for the first time in my life, and learned that I had to be accepted as someone very different from the persons I was serving at that time. But as luck would have it, again I had a fantastic role model to work with, my supervisor, who taught me how to fit in as myself in a work community where I was clearly different.

Q: How does your organization give back to the community and what role have you played in those efforts?

A: Mirick O’Connell encourages all of its attorneys to become a part of the Greater Worcester community and join organizations and efforts that benefit those around us. We have attorneys who serve on the boards of the Worcester Chamber of Commerce, The Research Bureau, United Way, Boys and Girls Clubs, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Catholic Charities, Children’s Friendand many other non-profit organizations that need the time and energy of volunteers.

I have served as a member of the executive committee and am a past president of the Worcester Economic Club. I have also served as leader for four years for my daughter’s Girl Scout troop. I regularly volunteer at my children’s elementary school.

Q: When the stress level gets too high, what’s your secret remedy?

A: I try always to look ahead for the glimmer of light pointing to when the workload will diminish or when I know I will have a work-free weekend. I will plan an activity the family has wanted to do for some time so I can look forward rather than dwell on the list of projects yet to be done. I remind myself that a legal career is like a treadmill and not a race, and it is imperative to pace myself rather than try to outrun the work. All you get with the latter is more stress. I have been fairly successful in sticking with these simple principles.

Q: How have you tried to balance your career and your personal life? Give an example or two.

A: It has been said many times the law is a jealous mistress, and indeed it is. I know now what it means and for this reason work-life balance will always remain one of my biggest challenges. However, I was fortunate to have a mentor at work that supported me when I first became a parent, and I decided that I needed to be realistic about work expectations. So, I explained to my mentor that I would be best able to continue with my career if I could be permitted to work less than full time as an attorney at Mirick O’Connell. That request was swiftly approved. The schedule is principally my own and kudos to Mirick for having agreed to a less than full-time schedule for me. Since my request over 12 years ago, others who have come after me have been able to make the same choice, and I believe this has had a profoundly positive influence in the firm and perhaps even in recruiting.

Q: What’s your primary motivator, or if there is one thing that makes you tick or ignites a passion within you, what is it?

A: Being outdoors and enjoying an activity in good weather rejuvenates me and helps put my work and family life into perspective. That is why even when the temperatures reach near zero, I still ski during the week at night at one of the local ski areas. Last year I took my son with me several times during the latter part of the winter and had some of the best times with him and friends. There is something refreshing and stimulating about the outdoors for me. This may account for my devotion to our national parks, and my desire to visit as many of them as I can during my lifetime. And for those who know me best, one other passion is having a dog.

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