Name: Miko Brown
Company: Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell LLP
Professional Industry: Legal
Job Title: Partner
WIXII-ISM™ FROM MIKO:
“After I had my first child, I tried to allocate my time and plan my work/family schedule in a very concrete fashion. I quickly learned that doesn’t work. So I’ve learned to embrace flexibility. Each day, I try to be the best wife, mother, and lawyer I can be with the time I have. Some days, that means I’m a better mother than lawyer and on other days that means I’m a better lawyer than wife or mother. Instead of beating myself up when I’m not doing a great job in every role every day of the week, I’ve learned to cut myself some slack.”
“Mentorship is definitely a two-way street. Once you find a good mentor, you have to invest equally in the relationship.”
Meet our featured Wixii™, Miko Brown. She is in her late 30s and mother to three young children under the age of five (2 sons (4 and 3 years-old) and 1 daughter (1 year-old)). She received her B.A. in English from the University of California at Berkeley and her J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. She is currently a litigation Partner at Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell LLP, and her husband is also a lawyer. In her former life, she was a national tennis champion in high school and college.
MIKO’S CAREER PATH:
I graduated from law school and 2001 and joined Holme Roberts & Owen (“HRO”) as an associate. In 2003, I left HRO and joined Snell & Wilmer. In 2007, I left Snell & Wilmer and joined my current firm, Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell (“WTO”). I made partner at WTO in 2011.
MIKO’S MINDSET AND WORK-LIFE MIX:
I’d say I’m currently a realist who is learning to take risks. I truly believe risk-taking and going outside of one’s comfort zone is critical to succeeding in the legal industry – particularly as a female.
With three children under age five and a full-time legal career, I’m “in the weeds” as my husband often states. Thankfully, I have a very supportive husband and parents who live in Denver to help with my current work-life mix. After I had my first child, I tried to allocate my time and plan my work/family schedule in a very concrete fashion. I quickly learned that doesn’t work. So I’ve learned to embrace flexibility. Each day, I try to be the best wife, mother, and lawyer I can be with the time I have. Some days, that means I’m a better mother than lawyer and on other days that means I’m a better lawyer than wife or mother. Instead of beating myself up when I’m not doing a great job in every role every day of the week, I’ve learned to cut myself some slack.
Describe a “day in your life” from waketime to bedtime:
5:00 a.m.: Wake-up and work for 1 1/2 hours until kids wake-up.
6:30-8:00am: Kids wake-up, get myself ready for work and my kids ready for school.
8:00-9:00am: Breakfast with kids and drop-off Brennan before driving to work.
6:30-8:00pm: Eat dinner with family (my husband does all the cooking and is a remarkable chef) and get kids ready for bed.
8:00-9:00pm: Spend time with my husband, Justin.
9:00pm: Go to bed.
What specific actions, choices, steps and/or decisions have you made (or would you like to make) to better manage your work-life mix?
I’m doing a better job of drawing boundaries at work in terms of how much work I take on and accepting the fact that I don’t need to be the highest billing attorney at my firm to be successful. I’m very lucky to work at a firm that supports my work-life mix.
Please share specific tips for effectively managing your time and schedule.
Be flexible. Simply having children makes flexibility key because they don’t understand or care about mommy’s schedule and how I’ve mapped out the day. Once I embraced flexibility and relinquished some control over my schedule, I’ve been much happier and productive. I’ve also decided that certain events, absent a true emergency, are set in stone on my calendar and non-negotiable such as school events and the birthday celebrations.
Please share your favorite efficiencies and timesavers.
Getting up early and doing work before my children get out of bed has helped me a lot. It gives me guilt free work time and generally allows me to relax and enjoy my family the minute I get home at the end of the day.
If you could change one thing about your work-life mix, what would it be?
As a litigator, my schedule is very unpredictable and erratic. This makes it difficult to schedule family vacations and family time generally. I’ll go weeks where I have to work every weekend or travel extensively. This is hard on my family and me. Thankfully, I have down time as well. But, I wish the legal profession was not so “feast or famine” oriented.
What do you currently find most challenging/concerning about your work-life mix? What areas do you most needs support?
My biggest concern is that I don’t spend enough time with my children. My husband is a lawyer so he understands the long hours my job requires. But, I’m afraid my children don’t get it and think I’m choosing work over them. Any advice on how to make your children understand your career or to alleviate “mommy guilt” would be much appreciated.
Are there changes your workplace or you could make to better manage your work-life mix?
I think my firm makes extraordinary efforts to help attorneys manage their work-life mix. The problem is, most, if not all, of the attorneys in my office are “type A” personalities who tend to be workaholics. As a result, lawyers who take advantage of the firm’s flexibility (part-time work, leaves of absence, etc.) often feel guilty or paranoid that they’re not carrying their weight. This was definitely a concern for me – particularly when I found out I was pregnant with my first child after only working a few months at WTO. To my surprise, however, the firm fully supported me in both words and action. I quickly discovered that my success at WTO depended on the quality of my work and commitment to my colleagues as opposed to the number of hours I billed. That’s why I was able to make partner my first time up even though I’d taken two maternity leaves in my first three years of working at WTO. This accomplishment wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t had the courage to “test” my firm’s commitment to a healthy work-life mix and had faith that the partners here valued quality over quantity.
What advice would you give an earlier version of yourself?
Is there anything you would like to share about work-life mix?
Find a good mentor who will support you, advocate on your behalf, and talk you off the ledge when you feel like throwing in the towel. I was fortunate enough to find two tremendous mentors at WTO – Mike O’Donnell (Chairman of the firm) and John Fitzpatrick “Fitz”(Senior Partner). Mike and Fitz have been instrumental to my success at WTO. They’ve given me the opportunity to work on high-profile, high-exposure cases from the minute I stepped in the door. They’ve also gone out of their way to increase my profile with major clients and help me develop my own business. Most importantly, however, their commitment to my success has never changed or waivered – even though I’ve been pregnant, and therefore, had relatively low billable hours, every year since 2007! In return, I think Mike and Fitz know I am 100% loyal and grateful to them and bend over backwards to support their practice. Mentorship is definitely a two-way street. Once you find a good mentor, you have to invest equally in the relationship.