Editor’s Note: This is the third installment in MSJDN’s series highlighting the employers MSJDN members say are going above and beyond for military spouse attorneys. Each employer in this series was nominated for MSJDN’s Member’s Choice Award by members who told us in their own words just how awesome their employers are. MSJDN is thrilled to tell these employer stories, as a way of expressing our gratitude for supporting military spouses as they build careers in the legal profession.
The MSJDN Member’s Choice winner will be announced at MSJDN’s Annual Reception in Washington D.C. on May 7.
The Gunster Law Firm is no stranger to MSJDN! We have been fans of the Florida-based firm since MSJDN member Thea Pitzen wrote about leaving her former employer to PCS for the July 2013 issues of Bars and Stripes, saying, “The day that I gave my notice at the firm was the first day the partners there saw me cry. True to form, they could not have been more supportive of my decision.” Gunster featured Thea’s difficult decision on their blog in December 2013, showing their continued support long after her departure from the firm.
Gunster was nominated for the MSJDN’s Member’s Choice Award, given to an employer that goes above and beyond to support military spouse attorneys, because the firm repeatedly demonstrated their understanding of military life and the impact it has on a legal career. In support of her nomination, Thea said, “I cannot say enough about the chance Gunster took on me as a young litigator. I moved to Jacksonville, Florida with no ties to that legal community and never having lived there before. When they asked in my interview what brought me to the area, I responded that my husband is in the Navy. When they asked if we would be moving in the future, I answered that we would be and could never be sure when… I was very upfront about my lifestyle as a military spouse. And I received my job offer within a few hours of walking out of the interview. ”
Gunster also employs other Navy spouses in associate and Of Counsel roles. Gunster’s support for military spouse attorneys exists not only in their hiring practices, but in their daily practice as well. They were understanding of deployment schedules and a military spouse’s willingness to put in long hours during deployment in exchange for time with a loved one upon return. This support was again demonstrated when they allowed Thea to take uninterrupted leave both before and after her husband’s deployments. Thea said, “When I say uninterrupted, I mean it! In the 72 hours after my husband returned from his two deployments in two years, I don’t think I even received a work related email!” Any attorney knows that no email for 72 hours is a true sign of support!
Gunster’s support extended from the initial interview until the last day of work and beyond. Thea concluded her nomination stating, “The firm took a chance on me as a young, inexperienced litigator who was also a military spouse attorney. And when it was time for me to PCS, they continued to support me in my decision to accompany my husband.”
We are thrilled to honor Gunster as a nominee for the Member’s Choice award. Their dedication to helping military spouse attorneys establish and grow their legal careers is appreciated by Thea and our entire membership!