Editor’s Note: MSJDN asked its members to help us spotlight employers that are going above and beyond for military spouse attorneys. Each employer in this series was nominated for MSJDN’s Members’ Choice Award for doing just that, by members who told us in their own words about the awesomeness of their employers. 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 Award recipient will be announced at MSJDN’s Annual Reception in Washington, D.C. on May 6.
Cox Smith Matthews* was nominated for the MSJDN Members’ Choice Award because of their exceptional commitment to supporting military spouses in the legal profession. The outpouring of appreciation from multiple members demonstrates the depth of the firm’s support for military spouse attorneys.
In the past year, Cox Smith has allowed two attorneys married to servicemembers in the Air Force to continue with full-time employment at the firm, even when moving out of Texas, where the company is based.
Larissa Fields, who has been with the firm since 2007, said, “I think Cox Smith sets an example for law firms across the nation. They are proving that military spouses can continue their careers, don’t have to change jobs every three years, and don’t have to take numerous bar exams, while still being profitable for their employers.”
Larissa started at the firm following graduation from law school. In December 2013, she married a pilot in the Air Force stationed in Missouri. In the months leading up to her wedding, Larissa started looking for jobs in Kansas City, trying to figure out where she would have to live to balance her commute with her husband’s. A few months before the wedding, her boss came to Larissa to say that the firm did not want to lose her. Larissa jumped at the offer to work remotely. Larissa said she nominated Cox Smith not only because they gave her the opportunity to work remotely, but because they have given her the utmost support throughout the journey, including the IT staff who set up her home office so well that most attorneys she works with can’t even tell when she is at the office in Texas or at home in Missouri!
Another MSJDN member and Cox Smith attorney, Jillie Gordon Foerster, echoes Larissa’s sentiments toward the firm. Jillie has been with Cox Smith since 2011, but relocated to Louisana to be with her husband in 2014 and has been working remotely since the move. She said, “Cox Smith and specifically Joshua Sutin, the head of the Tax Department, have allowed me to move away from San Antonio but continue to work remotely and retain the same associate status, career track, hours, and compensation.” The firm has been very supportive of the remote work arrangement and explains the situation in a very favorable light to their clients. Jillie is comforted knowing that she has had the full support of the firm, as well as other attorneys who are happy to see the firm making a commitment to retain talented lawyers when the technology exists to make it happen. She has heard nothing but positive comments about the situation from her coworkers and the firm and is grateful for the continuing commitment to supporting military spouses.
Cox Smith has publicly shared their support for military spouse attorney hiring practices. In a 2014 interview with Texas Lawyer, managing director Deborah Williamson specifically referenced Jillie and Larissa, and expressed her excitement over retaining talented female attorneys.
Cox Smith’s support demonstrates that the typical military spouse dilemma over keeping a job or relocating with a servicemember can be eliminated. The firm allows their military spouse employees to stay with a job they love while also staying united with a servicemember committed to serving our country. Supportive employers like Cox Smith ease the burdens on military families and supports stability of the family unit, an important factor for force readiness and retention. Cox Smith appreciates the talents of its military spouse attorneys and takes steps to solve the issues caused by the military lifestyle, blazing a trail for other firms to find solutions for continued employment of military spouse attorneys.
Find out the recipient of the MSJDN Members’ Choice Award at the 2015 Annual Reception in Washington, D.C. on May 6th. Tickets and information available here.
*On March 30th, it was announced that Dykema, a leading national law firm, will combine with Texas-based Cox Smith effective May 1, 2015. In Texas, the firm will initially operate under the name Dykema Cox Smith. Get the details on the combined firm here.