Washington Lawyer - January 2018 - 25
form of helping others or gaining more influence
For Nanci L. Weissgold, satisfaction comes first and
foremost from the type of work she does and the
people she works with. She feels a deep commitment to her law firm, but she acknowledges that
it was critical for her to find the right fit.
"I find my fulfillment from my clients," says
Weissgold, a partner at Alston & Bird LLP. "They
make me smarter. They ask great questions. They
appreciate what I do for them. I really enjoy that.
You have to find it in your firm, too. I switched law
firms three years ago after 20 years at one firm. It's
important to get fulfillment not only from your
clients, but also [from] a firm that appreciates
you as well. It can't just be one-sided."
Weissgold says another important element for her
is leveraging the power she's offered in terms of her
schedule and her flexibility. While she works within
the billable hour structure, she has the authority to
work collaboratively with her colleagues and clients.
Courtesy of Mary Rouvelas
"As a partner in a law firm, you're pretty much
responsible for your own schedule and destiny,"
she says. "The law firm isn't telling you what to
do. What it comes down to is there are pressures
to bill a certain number of hours or bring in
a certain amount of business. In law firms with
adversarial cultures, those pressures may be
higher than they are at firms like mine that are
collaborative and team-based. I want to work
in a collaborative place."
WITH A PURPOSE
Life coaches say that creating a fulfilling work life
has as much to do with an individual's mindset
inside the workplace as it does with what benefits
are offered by the employer, be it a law firm, a
nonprofit, or a government agency.
Mary Rouvelas believes that her job as senior
counsel at the American Cancer Society Cancer
Action Network has been rewarding because of the
powerful purpose and mission behind the organization, which has a national reputation for working
toward a cure for cancer and aiding cancer patients.
"I find my job very fulfilling," Rouvelas says. "One of
the things I love about working for the organization
is I feel like we're always on the side of the angels.
That's a good feeling. With American Cancer
Society and the Cancer Action Network, you have
the dual role of not only advocating for patients but
also advocating for research and science. That's
Rouvelas, who was an associate at what was then
Patton Boggs LLP (now Squire Patton Boggs) in the
early 1990s, says she doesn't miss life in a big firm.
Instead, she says her stint at Patton Boggs gave her
a great foundation for the work she does today. She
recruits law firms and attorneys to do pro bono
work for her organization.
"I draw a lot of inspiration from our volunteers, both
from the attorneys doing pro bono on behalf of our
organization and the volunteers that come in and
do all kinds of work to support us in Washington
and around the country," Rouvelas says. "They give
my work meaning."
Rouvelas isn't alone. Many lawyers working in the
nonprofit community and the government experience that kind of mission-driven satisfaction. But
there are also intangibles in achieving satisfaction,
such as feeling competent in performing one's job,
finding personal growth in the work, and having
freedom in selecting clients.
WORK HARD, PLAY HARD
Another factor in realizing fulfillment at work is
knowing that there is a solid foundation at home,
"I draw a lot of inspiration
from our volunteers, both from
the attorneys doing pro bono
on behalf of our organization
and the volunteers that come
in and do all kinds of work
to support us in Washington
and around the country."
Senior Counsel, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
JANUARY 2018 25