Editor’s Note: This is the eleventh and final 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.
When attorneys talk about “BigLaw,” a number of different ideas come to mind: competitive, selective, long hours, hard work. Rightly or wrongly, “BigLaw” typically does not evoke thoughts of flexibility, or work-life balance. But those characteristics are exactly why member Sara Zdeb nominated her firm, O’Melveny & Myers LLP (OMM) for the MSJDN Members Choice award, given to an employer going above and beyond for military spouse attorneys.
Sara joined OMM, an international law firm based in Los Angeles with offices all over the country, right after law school. Now in her sixth year of practice, she was recently promoted to counsel in the firm’s white collar defense group. The promotion is impressive, but what’s even more impressive is that she’s been able to achieve it as an active duty navy spouse, who’s had three PCS moves in those five-plus years, one of them an international move. And she’s been able to do it because of “a comprehensive workplace flexibility program called CustOMMize.”
Simply put, OMM appreciates its people assets. To be able to keep the best, the firm has developed a program to allow “formal and informal remote work assignments, and individually tailored solutions that allow military spouse attorneys to remain at OMM even when their spouses receive orders elsewhere.” Sara notes that there are currently three military spouse attorney, including herself, taking advantage of the CustOMMize program. For her part, Sara has worked for OMM from D.C., Norfolk, and even Italy.
The firm has even taken the additional step of allowing attorneys to transition between full-time and contract work to provide flexibility for international moves. Sara noted that when one of her military spouse attorney colleagues needed to follow her servicemember to Bahrain, OMM let her work as a contract attorney while abroad, then hired her back full-time once she returned to the United States with her husband.
“Military spouse attorneys are often faced with a really tough choice: abandon a promising career in order to move with a spouse, or keep the career at the expense of living in the same city as the spouse. In my case and these two others, OMM designed solutions that made this choice all but unnecessary.”