Mary Prendergast is a litigation associate in MoFo’s Washington, D.C. office. Her practice focuses on intellectual property and commercial litigation, representing clients in the medical devices, pharmaceuticals, electronics, software, semiconductors, and telecommunications sectors.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
To me, International Women’s Day is a chance for us to pause, reflect, and work together to find concrete ways to improve the lives of women. This year’s theme, #BalanceforBetter, is especially relevant to the legal industry — the lack of women in partnership and in leadership positions is a problem shared by all big law firms.
What advice would you give to the next generation of women who want to pursue a career in the legal industry?
Be fearless. No one cares more about your career than you, so be proactive, and when an opportunity comes, jump on it. Early in my career, an associate left two weeks before a major trial, and I was asked to join the team — made up of some of the greatest trial lawyers in the firm, who I had never worked with or even met — and help prep a key expert witness.
It was terrifying, but it turned out to be one of my most rewarding and formative experiences. On the other hand, if you are “doing it all,” and you just need a break, take it. Find women you look up to and make them your allies and mentors. And make sure you look for (and insist upon) an environment and colleagues that encourage you to both advance your career and maintain a healthy balance with the other important things in your life.
How have you seen MoFo embrace gender balance as a business priority?
As a member of MoFo’s Women’s Strategy Committee and chair of its Marketing Taskforce, I am intimately familiar with the amount of time and money MoFo invests in recruiting, retaining, and promoting talented women.
The last few years, in which we have had new partner classes with at least 50% women, are a testament to that effort, and the firm has no plans to slow down. MoFo is always looking at new programs and resources to improve maternity leave, flexible work schedules, and the transition to and from leave, many of which I have personally taken advantage of as a mother of two.
Read more Q&As from our global community of MoFo Women here.