I am a certified coach and the principal of Empowered Women Coaching. I offer personalized results-oriented coaching programs for those who are looking to step up to leadership positions, those wanting to improve their job performance, and those wanting a new job, a new career or a new way to thrive in today’s demanding workplace.
A member of the California bar, I began my career at O’Melveny & Myers in 1977 on graduation from law school. At the time, it was the oldest, largest and most prestigious firm in Los Angeles. The job was an amazing opportunity for a graduate of a third-tier law school. But in the eyes of some partners I had two strikes against me: I was a woman and I lacked an Ivy League diploma. Success required grit, a hunger to learn and a thick skin.
At that time, the career path for women in Big Law was largely uncharted. Although many firms relegated women to “softer” practice areas such as trusts and estates, I chose a corporate practice. In a few years, I was leading teams closing multi-million-dollar transactions. After I became a partner in 1985, the deals got larger and more complicated; millions became billions. Ten years later, a Fortune 500 corporation recruited me to act as Vice President and General Counsel.
A corporate restructuring gave me the opportunity to consider whether I was living my values. I decided to focus on raising my son and to explore interests only imagined during my blue-collar childhood. (My passion for horseback riding cooled after I was dragged by my ankle up a logging trail!) Once I had aged out of “soccer mom” activities and given up my cowgirl ways, I concentrated on writing.
After years of writing classes at UCLA and innumerable drafts, I published my legal thriller Terminal Ambition, A Maggie Mahoney Novel. Set in Big Law, the book centers on a woman partner’s battle against widespread sexual harassment and discrimination – a conflict that jeopardizes the firm chairman’s goal of becoming United States Attorney General.
Susan Estrich, Professor of Law and Political Science at USC, wrote, “Author Kate McGuinness does a terrific job highlighting the challenges that are all too familiar to women in the working world. An intriguing portrayal of discrimination and harassment, Terminal Ambition is a must read.”
I also blog extensively to share with others what I learned in the rough and tumble of my profession as well as in the havoc my career worked on my marriage. I address issues that are of special concern to women such as being the primary breadwinner, succeeding in a male-dominated workplace and deciding when or whether to have children. These essays and others have appeared in publications such as The Guardian, The Huffington Post, Women’s Media Center, Forbes, Above the Law, Trebuchet, JD Supra, Fem 2.0, Role/Reboot, Ms. JD, Jezebel and The Girls Guide to Law School.
Although I received praise and recognition for my writing, I came to question whether it was the best, most effective way to help others. The words resided on a printed page or floated on the internet, but did they change anything?
I decided I could be most helpful by working with individual women through coaching. Because of my experience in Big Law and the executive suite, I focus my practice on helping clients:
● Kindle their confidence
● Overcome implicit gender bias, outright gender discrimination and sexual harassment
● Meet a higher standard than male counterparts
● Walk the tightrope between being “too masculine” (aggressive) and “too feminine” (agreeable)
● Find a work – life blend that works for them
● Tame the dragon of perfectionism
● Evaluate a career change
I trained at the Hudson Institute of Coaching in Santa Barbara and became a certified leadership, career and transition coach. I provide pro bono coaching to low-income women through the Women for Change Coaching Community.
Additionally, I am a Governor of California Women Lawyers and a member of the Board of Directors of Santa Barbara Women Lawyers. I also sit on the Diversity Committee of the National Association of Women Lawyers. My other volunteer activities include acting as a tutor for Girls, Inc. and as a member of the Strategic Advisory Council of Women’s Economic Ventures.
In a recent interview, I discussed the strategies and tools I use to help clients navigate change and growth at home and at work. I also speak about some of the personal challenges I’ve faced that required me to draw upon a deep well of resilience.
My stints in Big Law and the executive suite resulted in my now having the luxury of time to reflect. The wisest words I have found were from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
The “difference” I hope to make is to improve the lives of my clients.