Michelle Reed is a partner with Akin Gump, where she has built a mile-long resume working on cyber-security cases that usually involve a lot of zeroes.
And to think years ago, a practice that specifically focused on this area of the law was not common. “I’ll never forget I had a colleague who said, 'Michelle, don’t waste your time on that.' I listened to that advice and rejected it and built a group. Now we have a group of over fifty attorneys. We Have lawyers in Dallas, Houston, New York, D.C., L.A., San Francisco, Moscow, London, all over the world," she said.
While Reed has focused on winning big cases, she has also been bucking gender stereotypes.
“You know how you win is success. And I have had great litigation results. I win and I work hard for my clients. And when you have a history of that, eventually it doesn’t matter if you are a man or a woman. They just want success,” she said.
Part of her success has been helping other women in her firm attain it as well. She says accommodating female employees has been a huge priority for her and for Akin Gump.
“I feel like we also have men who are raising daughters who care about this and they want to see us succeed and the firm wants to see us succeed. Promoting policies like women being able to ship refrigerated breast milk home when they are nursing their baby, having a pump room with a professional grade pump at work; all of these accommodations are what helps to keep women who want to be there…there."
She enjoys, “Mentoring them through that--through the steps of how to get out of a deposition when you need to pump, because it’s tricky, what to do when you are in the courthouse during a hearing and you need to pump.”
Reed worked through three pregnancies. “I am tired of the world saying you can’t have it all because the reality is you can, and I am a better lawyer and better mother because of the way I have made it work. There are people who would hate what I have done--women who would hate what I have done-- to juggle it all. I mean, I have taken conference calls in bathrooms and trying to stay away from my kids with a towel under the door. There are people who---that’s not the way they operate--and that's great, that's fine. I want women to see so many different ways to do this.”
In her ‘off’ time, Reed donates hundreds of hours of her legal expertise to families are the world who are desperately seeking asylum in the United States.
“It’s worth it because if we don't do it, nothing will change. People need to see the suffering. They need to see that it's not okay to say that someone wasn't persecuted when a mother and her daughter were shoved to the ground and barrels of a gun were put against both their temples by ‘Mara 18’ in El Salvador. That's not okay and that is persecution. If others and the judge don’t want to say that it's persecution, I will say it's persecution. And I will appeal it, and I will keep appealing it until people listen. And even if we never win, that family is different because someone in America cared for them.”