With the publication of our attorney Melanie Breaux‘s new articles, “Why Law Firms Must Include Men in the Push for Increased Gender Equality” and “Career Sponsors: Misunderstood, Yet Essential for Advancement,” we were excited to catch up with Melanie about what inspired her and what else she’s been doing.
One of your recent articles talks about why law firms need to reflect our clients’ values—and why doing that is good for everyone. How did your practice inform the piece?
The practice of law is, at heart, a client services industry. For me, that means at every stage of working with a client, I endeavor to understand what is important to that client and to prioritize that client’s interest. This includes legal and business concerns, as well as client values. In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of women in positions of power at client companies, in general counsel and other senior leadership roles. I see this push for the advancement of women within business organizations as an important client value that we as lawyers should prioritize and reflect.
With your public appearances (on panel discussions, as a podcast guest, and more), what do you find most valuable about engaging with the community?
I’ve found that one of the biggest benefits I’ve experienced from interacting with individuals from such a variety of backgrounds, including business leaders, municipal and federal government representatives, and university faculty and staff, is a much broader perspective with which to see and address challenges. Hashing out prickly topics while moderating a panel, engaging in an in-depth discussion at an industry event, or researching and writing an article exposes one to differing opinions and standpoints. I’ve been able to use this deeper understanding of others’ outlooks to tackle issues in a more thoughtful and creative way, both in my law practice and in life outside the office.
You have a background in the arts, and now you serve on arts-related non-profit boards: Arts Advance (the production company for the WHYY/PBS TV show Articulate with Jim Cotter) and Theatre Philadelphia. What drew you to each of them?
Throughout my life, I have always felt a strong connection to the arts. In fact, I have a BFA in Theater from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and after college spent four years in Los Angeles acting and writing. My current involvement in performance-related arts organizations is my way of maintaining that connection, and contributing to a dynamic, important, and often undervalued community.