The Geek in Review Ep. 151 – M.C. Sungaila and The Portia Project Podcast

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The Geek in Review Ep. 151 – M.C. Sungaila and The Portia Project Podcast

We bring on a fellow legal industry podcaster this week to talk about the launching of her brand new podcast, The Portia Project. M.C. Sungaila is a shareholder at Buchalter in California and she noticed that while there were a number of female judges making it onto the trial court bench, there were still a small number at the appellate level. This motivated her to seek out a platform for those judges who were at the appellate level to share their stories and perhaps encourage others to seek out similar roles. M.C. discusses how her original idea of creating a book on the topic morphed into the podcast platform as a result of not just the length of time it takes to compile a book, but also because she quickly discovered that being able to actually hear these stories told in first-person had more of an emotional effect than the printed page could convey.

M.C. shares how the experiences of women joining the judiciary changed over the past few decades. How the challenges shifted from the 70s and 80s into the past couple of decades. That the barriers shifted from obvious issues to more subtle obstacles. She also notes how there is a theme among these stories of women trailblazers in particular areas of legal practice, only to be supplanted by their male counterparts once those areas of practice become more prestigious. It is this type of shared storytelling experience that makes podcasting such a popular platform and M.C.’s Portia Project brings these important stories to life. We hope you enjoy this discussion as much as we did.

Crystal Ball Question

While we may be back to a more “regular” style of podcast episode this week, we still have some recordings from LegalWeek that we are going to share for a few more episodes. We asked a number of attendees our Crystal Ball question of “what significant changes do you see in the legal industry over the next five years?” This week, David Bartolone from Wolters Kluwer sat down at the microphone in New York and gave us his projection on the role APIs will play in the near future.

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Music: Jerry David DeCicca

Transcript

Marlene Gebauer  0:18

Welcome to The Geek in Review, the podcast focused on innovative and creative ideas in the legal industry. I’m Marlene Gebauer.

Greg Lambert  0:25

And I’m Greg Lambert. Well, we’re kind of back to a more traditional episode this week, Marlene after our journey to New York for LegalWeek. And then I decided to take a week off and travel out to Arizona and Big Bend here in Texas. And you know, I loved disconnecting last week, but I will tell you, I am paying for it this week because I got like 1000 emails to catch up.

Marlene Gebauer  0:50

It is necessary, but it is indeed the price you pay.

Greg Lambert  0:53

It is

Marlene Gebauer  0:54

We had a great conversation with M.C. Sungaila about her newly launched podcast called The Portia Project. M.C.’s podcast focuses on women in the legal industry starting with appellate judges, but she’s expanding that to include other traditional and nontraditional legal roles. It’s a great podcast and topic and we get to dive into the details of why she wanted to get these stories out there.

Greg Lambert  1:17

Yeah, that was a great conversation. And you know, and I said, we’re getting back to a more traditional episode this week. But that’s not really 100%. True. completely true. Yeah. So one of the things we did while we were at LegalWeek as we grabbed some friends and some colleagues and asked them our crystal ball question, to see what kind of major changes they saw on the horizon in the legal industry in the next four or five years. And we have a few of those that we recorded. So instead of our traditional information inspirations, we’re gonna go and just jump in into those. And this week, we have David Bartolone, from Wolters Kluwer, let’s listen to his answer on the crystal ball question.

Marlene Gebauer  2:01

Yeah, these were so much fun to get people to sit down and talk to us and give us their answers.

Greg Lambert  2:07

All right, David, take it away.

David Bartolone  2:13

My name is David Bartolone. I am a general manager with Walters Kluwer, Legal and Regulatory based out of Vienna, Virginia, just outside of Washington DC. Before I answered the question, I do want to say I am, this has actually been a kind of dream I’ve had to be sitting here talking to you guys, as part of…

Marlene Gebauer  2:36

You got to dream bigger than that.

David Bartolone  2:38

I don’t know.

Greg Lambert  2:40

We need to bring you back then for a full episode.

David Bartolone  2:42

I would like that I would enjoy that very much. This has been one of the more entertaining podcasts that that covers legal information, legal technology, so great to be here. In terms of what I’m concentrated on, or what I feel excited about is API’s and the way that they’re going to influence the way legal information tools are consumed by the law firms or in house corporate counsel. I do believe, for better for worse, that the true use some of the content will be more platform agnostic and being able to engage with the platforms that are built within the firm’s themselves and to allow them to have a seamless access to whatever content they’re looking for. We have the ability to provide that. And so I think that’s going to be pretty disruptive in the future. And it’s an exciting opportunity to continue to partner with the legal firms and in house corporate counsel’s to get them what they need.

Greg Lambert  3:48

Can you give us an example of what you see as let’s say a law firm from a corporate practice? How would I convince a or

Marlene Gebauer  3:59

How have you seen the API’s being applied? And then Greg’s question how would you convince organizations to sort of go down this path?

David Bartolone  4:11

So I manage a number of different business units within Walters Kluwer Legal and Regulatory, and one of the business of managing now is called MediRegs, which is a medical compliance business. And what we do is we help hospitals and payers with their audits, with the managing all of the sort of regulatory complexity that goes with along with reimbursement. And API’s are, we’re much more involved, or I guess, in front of where we are on the legal space in terms of integrating with the SAS providers who are doing sort of large implementations within a hospital and then to be able to partner with those software. integrations to allow access to our tools and to the regulatory information that they need access to in a way that they fits better their workflow. So I’m kind of taking that as a template and saying this could also work in a corporate environment or law firm environment, where they’re saying, Okay, we need certain a certain applications that will tie everything together, in a way, and then to be able then to partner with those applications in order to surface the content that they’re looking for the tool that they need to do the job to get done.

Greg Lambert  5:43

Well, David, thanks for dropping by. And

David Bartolone  5:45

Oh, my pleasure. I can’t wait for the invite to get back one day,

Greg Lambert  5:48

we’ll get you back on. All right.

David Bartolone  5:49

Thank you so much.

Greg Lambert  5:54

Thanks to David Bartolone for his crystal ball question. And I you know, and I, for one, Marlene really hope that more and more of the vendors get on the API bandwagon. And let us integrate some of that data into our own. And so that’s one of the things that that I’m hoping to play with very soon.

Marlene Gebauer  6:13

Yeah, I agree with you. I think this really is sort of the next, the next move in terms of being able to combine outside and internal information. So I want to see it, and I want to see it made easy, and I want to see it for no extra costs. I have demand

Greg Lambert  6:31

You’re not asking for much. Well, like I said earlier, we’ll have a few more of these spots over the next few weeks. But now let’s get to this week’s guest.

Marlene Gebauer  6:43

There are many stories to share when it comes to the experiences of women in the legal field. And our guest this week is doing her part to create a platform to amplify those experiences.

Marlene Gebauer  6:55

We’d like to welcome M.C. Sungaila, shareholder and chair of the appellate practice at Buchalter, and host of the new podcast, the Portia Project, which focuses on women in traditional and nontraditional legal careers. M.C. Welcome to The Geek in Review.

M.C. Sungaila  7:09

Thank you so much for having me.

Greg Lambert  7:12

It’s such a pleasure having you on the show here because we love talking with other podcasters. And your production with the Portia Project is, I think that’s just right down our alley with you know, shining that spotlight on women in the legal profession. I want to get to that. But first, I want to talk a little bit more about you. So what has been your focus in your legal career, and I really wanted to hear specifically about the fact that you were awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor. So if you don’t mind, wrap it all up by telling us how you ended up with that?

M.C. Sungaila  7:51

Sure. So yeah, so I am an appellate lawyer. I’ve been an appellate lawyer for over 25 years. And previously a litigator for a short while, but found my true calling and doing appeals, talking to judges, persuading judges instead of convincing juries. And using the experience that I had clerking for various federal judges, you know, now as an advocate, and it also really fits with my initial interest in a career which was being a poet. So being a writer of some type. And so that’s basically what I do for a living, but, you know, in the real world to make a difference. And that’s also what I love about appellate laws, we can make a difference in one case. So I came to appellate law and found it in a pro bono case in front of the US Supreme Court when I was in my 20s. And it involved a judge. So it involved a judge who had sexually assaulted and did all kinds of terrible things to women who were litigants before his court or otherwise beholden to him. He was the only basically, the main judge in this small town, and his brother was the prosecutor. So nothing ever happened until the United States came in and was doing an investigation and came across all of these allegations and prosecuted the judge for them. He was convicted, and then his conviction was overturned, and then taken to the US Supreme Court. So ultimately, he went back to jail. It was a very colorful case, very well covered in the media. He was interviewed, really, probably, if I were his lawyer wouldn’t have advised him to be interviewed. But he was, while this was ongoing, on things like 60 Minutes and 20/20, and things like that. So it was well covered. And he was colorful. So it was a very interesting entree. And when we were able to make a difference and make sure that his conviction was upheld. It really cemented to me like what you can do with appellate law, and that you can make that kind of difference in one case. And I also felt like I had some kind of instinct for it. You know, I was a new lawyer, and it was my first appellate brief that I done, you know, taking the lead on, but I felt like if I really devoted myself to this, I could be, you know, can be really something where I can make a difference more regularly. So I think that leads to the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, which honors immigrants, children of immigrants, to the US who have made a difference both in their careers but also in some sense of giving back to the community. So there are a lot of philanthropists, there are people have started charities, but they’ve also excelled in their career. So it’s kind of a it’s a mix. And there are very few lawyers who are medalists, unfortunately. But my year, Thomas Keller, the chef, Buzz Aldrin to astronaut, Indra Nooyi, who was the CEO of Pepsi, a number of other people like that were also honored. So it was, it was amazing to be there and to meet them. And the whole event is really spectacular. It’s held at night on Ellis Island. And there’s a dinner in the arrivals hall afterwards. But there’s a whole like military presentation and speeches and all of this kind of stuff on the island. And then when you come back from the island at night, there’s a personal like a firework show just for the new medalists over the Statue of Liberty. So it’s an amazing experience. It really is truly patriotic, and basically encourages you to kind of give back more and do more.

Greg Lambert  11:39

That sounds exciting.

Marlene Gebauer  11:40

That’s really incredible experience both that and you know, being in front of the Supreme Court in your 20s

Greg Lambert  4:52

Yeah, kind of started off with a bang.

Marlene Gebauer  4:53

Not many can say that. So let’s jump into the Portia Project podcast. What was your reason for starting the podcast? And what drew you to podcasting as your medium for this topic? And you know, from coming from two podcasters? You know, we’re curious to see how you got here, too,

M.C. Sungaila  12:06

Right? How did we make? How do I make the journey to here? Yeah, so I think it’s really an evolution. So like four or five years ago, I noticed that there were more women judges coming on the scene, being appointed, and elected. But at the appellate level, there were not as many. So we’re making better inroads of the trial court level, but not as much at the appellate level. And so I was like, well, it would be really nice to highlight their stories, how they got to the bench, some advice they might have for practitioners, and, you know, just do this kind of compendium of as many people as I could talk to, to get their stories. And so I started working in a book format. But along the way, I found that the judges really like to talk. They love to get on the phone, and they would just tell their story with you know, it’s hard to like get to write it down and do all this stuff. It’s different, like what I heard from them, when I spoke to them, and then what they would write down, you know, it’s in writing, it’s a lot more formal. So it was a little bit different. And also, it took basically a lot more time, from the time we had the conversation to the time it’s then put into a written form. And then, you know, we’re putting all this together, I’m like, it could be like, a while before I have this book together. So I kind of set it aside, because I thought this is taking too, basically, it’s not the right time for this. So I’m gonna set it aside. And then a couple years ago, when podcasting, because of COVID in part, became quite more popular, and there were more people I knew in the legal realm who had started doing some form of podcast, I started thinking about it. So I would say, like, two years ago was when I had the direct idea to do a podcast like this. But then I started to decide to thinking, well, everybody’s doing a podcast or an COVID. And I don’t really know, maybe I’ll let somebody else do this. I don’t need to do it. But then nobody did. And then also, I think it wouldn’t have happened honestly, without COVID, not just because of the podcast itself, like thinking about that as venue. But the fact that judges become very comfortable. And really, lawyers all over the country, very comfortable with Zoom, very comfortable with remote interviews like that.

Greg Lambert  7:31

Yeah.

M.C. Sungaila  7:32

And so it also opened up a lot of opportunities, it’s much easier to have that kind of conversation remotely, than, you know, me traveling to like every state supreme court or something trying to interview people. So it also made it much easier for them. So I think they were open to that kind of venue. And then also, I think that Bar Association’s and bar education work has moved online, both from the law schools to the bar, and that also, the judges are interested in the educational component of this. They’re interested in, you know, sharing the history and educating people about how they got to the bench. But also, in California, at least, I don’t know. And I also think nationwide, there’s a push that’s kind of coincided with what I saw many years ago, which is to diversify the bench, and to have people consider it who might not have considered it previously, whether it’s because they have a different professional career prior to becoming a judge. Sometimes people have a sense, like, you can only do this, you can only be a prosecutor at the state or federal level. And that’s really how you become a judge. And if you don’t do that, you can’t do it. The truth is that does not at all true may have been, you know, lore many years ago, but you hear how these women have joined the bench. And there’s just a whole array of stories from that. So I think they’re more comfortable with this as a venue to educate, and also just people listened to it more. All of that sort of primed it for me to decide to do it. And so honestly, there will be no podcast if these women judges and lawyers did not agree to be interviewed. So that was step one. Step one was trademarking. Step two was the trademark name, which I did two years ago. The second thing was, you know, you people have to want to do this, or there’s not going to be any show. So before I move forward on it, I just asked about 20 people, you know, would you be interested? Would you have an interest in doing this? And no, I have no sample, you can’t see anything, you know, but are you willing to be courageous and do this? And almost every one of them said, yes. So I was like, Okay, we have a podcast, and then just just moved up from there. And even from the time that I recorded those or met with those judges, I started thinking about other ways we could highlight other women in leadership because In the law, so it started out from appellate judges, to different kinds of judges. So we’ve interviewed the interviewer district, federal district court judges, State Trial Court judges, State Supreme Court judges, intermediate Courts of Appeal, magistrate judges, some judges who are appointed, some who are elected, you know, all of that to explore the different ways you can become a judge to process wise. And then from there, I started thinking, well, it doesn’t it’s hard to even be judges, right. There are women, General Counsel, chief legal officers, managing partners of major law firms, sole practitioners, then moving out from there. Well, even Dean’s I’m going to be interviewing out law school dean shortly, and law school professors as well. And then, you know, beyond that is what can you do with a law degree that isn’t the law per se? So people who run nonprofits, legal nonprofits, as the executive director, or just nonprofits, museums, things like that, legal tech founders, so I’m pleased to say that two of our sponsors are women owned tech firms. I had three women founders of tech companies on the podcast. So I feel like it’s opening up those, opening up people’s minds about what you can do with a law degree, the value of it and the different ways that women are making a difference with that training.

M.C. Sungaila  18:18

the different ways that women are making a difference with that training.

Greg Lambert  18:21

I want to go back to the name you said you made sure that you locked in the IP on on that, what was the idea behind the name The Portia Project.

M.C. Sungaila  18:32

So Portia is from Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, she had to pretend to be a guy in order to advocate as a lawyer. And so Portia was initially a term that was used for women lawyer to generally and to measure their progress. So first was in like, the academic literature, and, and even some of the studies that tracked women’s progress, even when I when I was in law school. So in the early 1990s, 80s, that was used quite commonly, I think it hasn’t been used as commonly now, but it definitely kind of encapsulates that women’s first, you know, significant entry into the profession.

Greg Lambert  19:13

you had kind of mentioned a little bit about the Bar Association. And I know you do a lot with the bar and have a number of programs that you work with. So how is it that you’re using this podcast in these interviews, to kind of supplement and add to your work with the bar?

M.C. Sungaila  19:34

Yeah, so I still deeply involved with Bar Association and work the ABA, the Orange County Bar Association, just a number of them, I think that it’s so and women’s bars and the Hispanic bar, just a range of bar associations that I think it’s valuable to create community and to be part of that community in a number of different ways. And then I do think that there’s been a difference now in terms of COVID, because there’s been a reduced ability to be in person through those bar associations. So a lot of that work, migrated online. So that I think is where I started thinking about more online and more, you know, podcasting stuff myself. I think that this is different. I think that, particularly when you think about who you would want to have access to this material, I wanted to make it easily accessible to people maybe who aren’t even law students yet, or people who are in law school. And they may be involved with their particular bar association and go to that particular program. But that would be geographically limited generally, and to some degree. And often law students have enough to do with their, with their lives, that they don’t go to those programs, even though there’s a lot of benefit to them. So I thought, well, this is another venue, right? You’re just searching on the podcast app and you and you find this and you’re also able to do it at any time. And you can pull one at a time, if you’re interested and just listen to whatever part you want to listen to you. I also have transcripts on our website. So you could also look at that. I think it plays a slightly different role. It’s supplementary and kind of an adjunct to the Bar Association. There’s still no substitute for the kind of connections you can make through that and the wide array of practices that you can expose yourself to by meeting people who are in those different practice areas in the Bar Association.

Marlene Gebauer  21:36

I imagine during your interviews that you hear a variety of stories from your interviewees. What are some of the common barriers or struggles that your guests have discussed? How do those reflect women’s broader progress and growing opportunities in the profession and in business?

M.C. Sungaila  21:54

I was really conscious to include, especially in the beginning, women who are at a wide range of time and experience levels. So the first episode features Christine Durham, who was one of the first women judges at all in Utah, and was on the Utah Supreme Court for 25 years, including as Chief Justice. So her stories of coming out of law school when she liked Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and Justice Ginsburg, you know, women need not apply, right, you couldn’t get positions in a lot of places, they just wouldn’t interview you. And they flat out would say it. I mean, she said she, she said that in the interview and said, men on Law Review only. So that’s encouraging. You’re like, wow, she had to go through that. And she became the Chief Justice of the Utah Supreme Court. You know, whatever I’m going through is relatively simple compared to that. So it’s kind of encouraging in that way. But that’s a story that’s unique to a particular era. And then, you know, there are still challenges, I would say, continuing, you know, organizationally with politically within organizations, what kinds of opportunities there are to lead. But there are more people, more women going into those roles as well. So I think the common challenges are, the thing that I noticed was that they all talked about different kinds of challenges. And they all talked about how they overcame them, some of them much more matter of factly. Like, well, that’s just the way it was, or this is how it was. And so here’s what I did to get around that, or climb over it, or go around it, or whatever it was. It’s like very practical. Here’s the particular thing I experienced. And here’s how I dealt with it. And some of them didn’t even recognize that some of the things were challenges. It’s just a fact.

Greg Lambert  23:48

Yeah, I can see I can, I can hear my mom telling me stories where she would just go. Well, you have to understand, Greg, that’s just how it was back then.

M.C. Sungaila  17:03

Yeah.

Greg Lambert  17:04

I did notice that as I was listening to your latest episode with Judge Christine Miley, there was one part where she was talking about getting a mentor that she actually selected when she got elected to the bench there in Ohio that they make you kind of go through a two week orientation. And then within the first year, there are certain benchmarks you have to have to hit. And she actually went out and asked specifically for another person for mentorship. Are you finding now that these women who sit on the bench are finding other women who sit on the bench to help them? Kind of use them as mentors?

M.C. Sungaila  24:44

Well, I’ll tell you, there’s an interesting. I mean, I think the lesson overall is that you hear and I asked them about that usually is mentors or sponsors who helped you. Some of them are women, some of them are men, it’s just people who came and helped them at key junctures of their career. And as many of them acknowledge, and as I’ve found in my career, there are probably a lot more people that we don’t even know about, we can’t identify who were in the room at a point of decision making, and helped us and we’ll just never know that, because that’s, that’s something that they do selflessly. And you know, they’re not going to tell you they did it. So that’s just one observation that I think all of them have said, with regard to mentors and sponsors.

Greg Lambert  25:28

Well, I was just kind of wondering, because I hear a lot, especially in law firms that, you know, I looked up at the people who came before me, and I didn’t see myself, I didn’t see anyone that looked like me.

Marlene Gebauer  25:42

And there’s a lot of challenges with mentoring programs. How to match people up and you know, making sure that mentors are really, you know, mentoring. So this is an interesting topic.

M.C. Sungaila  25:55

Yeah. Well, I think that the mentors you choose, as you mentioned, as judge Miley did, are probably more effective. Right. You know, there’s some kind of connection. I mean, that’s what she relayed there was that she thought she was a good match, you know, for various reasons. And it’s turned out to be true. So, so that’s true. But this mentoring piece, I think, is also an aspect that some of the women I’ve interviewed have talked about in terms of this being a form of mentoring as well, the podcast itself, because you may not have access to people in that way that you can get that kind of advice from, and especially going to the bench. I mean, it really helps stuff people have been through the process and can work with you. Even doing prep sessions before an interview with a nominating committee are things like that. If you’ve been mentored, the only way you can pay that back is to mentor someone else, and to help someone else in the same way. and many of the women on podcasts feel that the podcast is one way to do that they can reach a lot more people, in addition of people that they’re doing this one on one with, and, and there’s, you know, significant value to that. And then I also very intentional and I think many of the women who have agreed to be interviewed have also said, look, we, we really want to make sure it’s as diverse as possible. And there’s many different kinds of from experiences to racial and ethnic, to a number of different aspects that are different so that people can say, that’s some Oh, yeah, that’s somebody who I feel like I really relate to and have had maybe had a similar experience. But that that I’ve had.

Marlene Gebauer  27:44

I’m curious, for the podcast. I mean, do you have listeners sort of interacting? I mean, are they using social media to reach out to some of the interviewees with questions? Are they just sort of taking it all in internally?

M.C. Sungaila  28:00

Yeah, I don’t have an interactive component. I mean, we’re, you know, we launched February 7, so I’m just really happy to have podcasts produced, and a website, and transcripts. So we’re just kind of moving one thing at a time, I will say that the women who have been interviewed, some of them have mentioned to me that they really are interested in the range, the group of people that we’ve assembled through the interviews, and that they would like to meet each other, you know, if they don’t already know each other, they would like to have some venue in which we can do that. So that’s my current project is to try and figure out how they can all meet each other if they don’t know each other already, although many of them do. So that that was one of the other things was like, it’s a very small world. When I interviewed people I knew or met from, you know, either from cases or from bar work. And they may, they’re in a totally different state, a totally different level of court. But another judge all asked to be interviewed will say, Oh, you interviewed, so and so? Oh, she’s one of my best friends. Of course, I want to do it, too. So it was kind of like the small world of the women, judges and practitioners already who kind of, you know, they knew of each other, even though you wouldn’t necessarily think so like, Oh, that’s cool. I don’t know how, how you know each other. But that’s great.

Greg Lambert  29:27

I imagine it’s a pretty small social circle.

M.C. Sungaila  29:30

Yeah, I mean, I guess that’s true. I’m just thinking like, nationwide, you know, that’s pretty amazing. And then just reinforces my initial statistical view, which was just not a lot of them. So they do know each other. So that’s good. Yeah, I think I think it’s good. Also, I would say that there are people, you know, there are only a few episodes have aired. So far, we have, I’ve many interviews already done prior to the launch. So I’ve interviewed a lot more people that have come out at this point, been published. But after the interviews is when I feel like we’ve created a kind of a self-perpetuating universe, because the people I’ve interviewed really enjoy the interviews, and they recommend to somebody else that they be interviewed and connect me to them. And, you know, for whatever reason, whether they think that the person’s ready to do that, or, or they would just enjoy doing it. So I take particular joy in that, that in itself, you know, even before it’s published, that people enjoyed it so much that they wanted to have somebody else have the experience.

Marlene Gebauer  30:43

Yeah, I mean, it’s just another opportunity for more meaningful connection between, you know, people who might not otherwise get the chance.

M.C. Sungaila  31:15

Yeah, so I think, Well, I think one thing is that I had hoped that there would be individual, you know, the individual stories would be compelling. Some of them are more like, emotionally compelling than I even knew, even for people that I knew, you know, I kind of thought I knew their story. But when you listen to them and provide a venue for them to share it, you hear a lot more. So I think that’s actually a value of podcasting is that there’s a space that’s held where people feel heard, and as a result, they share a lot more So, I think that’s an that’s an interesting things. I didn’t realize, you know, things I thought I knew. But I thought, boy, maybe I need to be a better friend, I’m not listening well enough, I should have known this already. And then the really what I’d hoped for also has happened, which is the collective. Individually, their stories are compelling, if you want to listen to them individually that, you know, that’s cool, but the collective of all of them, and especially a collective from people who entered the profession, in the 70s, and 80s, all the way through today. That sort of meta story from all of their stories is truly compelling in terms of where we’ve come from, and how far we’re going. But also, there’s a historical and overall historical aspect from a number of anecdotal stories that arises. I think about this in the context of, there’s a field of study called complexity, which looks at different systems and talks about how they interrelate and how some systems themselves create new properties. And I feel like that’s what’s happening here. Yes, there’s a compilation of these individual stories. But from that completion itself, from that system that’s created, there emerges something that is greater and larger than the individual or even the whole itself. And it’s something independent and separate from that. So I’m really excited to kind of see where that goes, just as it’s gone from judges to a whole array of practice areas, and even non legal things to open people’s minds about what that might look like. It’s also creating its own thing, I’m just kind of I’m just here to like Shepherd it along and allow it to become organically, whatever it’s going to become.

Marlene Gebauer  33:47

Well, this sounds interesting, because you’ve hit a little bit about sort of what you know, what’s, what’s coming. And so we’ve reached the point in the podcast where we pull out the crystal ball question. So we do ask each of our guests to basically look into the gaze into their crystal ball, if you will, and look into the future. And, you know, what we would ask you is, you know, what changes do you see for women in the legal industry over the next, you know, five years or so?

M.C. Sungaila  34:13

Yeah, well, I think I have a couple answers to that. One is, I’ll say in the law firm context, particularly in large firms, I think there’s been a lot of focus on pipeline, understandably, you know, making sure that we hire women, and at least retain them through a certain level of associate, associate-dom. But there’s been minimal focus on women Equity Partners, and either making them or keeping them. And there was an ABA study, I want to say a couple of years ago talking about that, about the most experienced women walking out the door, you know, in their 50s, at the point where you would think that women would remain because this is the apex of the career, this is where you’re gonna get delivery on all of the work that you’ve done, and they just kind of throw up their hands and leave. So I think that there’s gonna be an increased focus on that there should be an increased focus on that end, because if you don’t pay attention to that, the women who are coming in through the front of the pipeline, well, as you mentioned, Marlene, take a look around and go, Well, who’s here? You know, is that something I should do or want to do? Because I don’t see anyone who’s in that position after a certain number of years. So maybe there’s something I need to know about. So I think that’s an should be an important focus on one that the ABA has, you know, been in vanguard on with its study. And then the other thing I see is really a trend that happened previously in other areas of the law. And it’s just happening in new areas now. So in the past, I’ll say as an appellate lawyer, because I can I saw this happen, as well as in the in house space, when in house was not paid as well, or not nearly as high prestige. And the same with appellate when it was not a prestige and not paying as well. Women flooded into those spaces. And when they became more prestigious and more powerful, it changed. So many more men, fewer women. And so I think of us I like to think of that as a positive spin of we’re in the vanguard, in part because we want to find spaces to grow spaces that are not constrained already in some way. So I see, start thinking about where is the vanguard there? I think there will be an I hope that there will be many more women judges, for example, they are increasing, and I think it will increase across the panoply of courts. And I hope that were part of that through the Portia Project. The other thing I see is entrepreneurialism. So there’s entrepreneurialism in a lot of different ways, some women early on, you know, started law firms or boutique law firms, because that was their best opportunity, right. And I still think that there are some things that can be done in that setting that can’t be done in larger law firms. I also think that there’s a huge variety of entrepreneurship outside that, both in legal tech, and access to justice, legal tech arenas, there are still few women founders in legal tech at all, but where they are showing up is in areas where they can either help practitioners, or they can help with access to justice, questions. And so, so I’m interviewing as many of those as I can find on the podcast, because I think they’re having an interesting perspective. But I also think that’s another area of growth, because I see it as one that isn’t valued sufficiently at this point. And in five years, we’ll be.

Greg Lambert  37:57

Excellent. Well, MC Sungaila from the Portia Project podcast. I love the alliteration. I want to want to thank you for coming on and sharing these stories. with us. We’ll make sure that we put a link to the Portia project on our show notes, but thanks again for taking the time to talk with us.

Marlene Gebauer  38:23

Yeah, thank you M.C., it’s been great.

M.C. Sungaila  38:24

Yeah, absolutely. I did want to mention that I listened to your podcasts as well, and the legal design podcast that you had, that’s also on my list. I want to have some legal designers on some women who do that as well. And I bought the book after I listened to your podcast.

Marlene Gebauer  31:45

That’s great.

Greg Lambert  38:41

We love the book.

Marlene Gebauer  38:44

Happy to make any introductions you need to

Greg Lambert  31:51

Alright, thanks again.

Marlene Gebauer  31:53

Thank you,

M.C. Sungaila  31:53

thank you

Greg Lambert  38:53

Well, it’s always nice to get a another podcaster in the mix here. Luckily, we stopped recording as we went through, we talked and kind of compared notes on on how each of us were setting up our own podcast.

Marlene Gebauer  32:24

We did the geek compare.

Greg Lambert  32:26

But really interesting, it’s a I’ve listened to a few of the, the episodes, it’s, it’s interesting to hear the different perspectives, just because in the diversity amongst the judges that that MC has, has interviewed, it’s, it’s fascinating.

Marlene Gebauer  39:23

We talked a little bit once we stopped recording, and I really liked the juxtaposition of the crystal ball question where, okay, you know, yes, innovation, and that’s going to mean, you know, some of these women experienced, you know, judges or you know, other women in the legal profession, going out and starting their own firm or doing, you know, starting their own organization or doing their own thing. But the juxtaposition is also the other, you know, focus that she was talking about is how firms really have to look at these women kind of at the apex of their career, who are walking away, and why are they walking away? I just thought that was very, very interesting. Because there’s, there’s opportunity to be had with the innovation side of things, you know, and unless first kind of get their act together, I think that’s gonna be the way.

Greg Lambert  40:14

I imagined not just firms. I imagined you’re seeing it across the industry.

Marlene Gebauer  33:38

Oh, yeah.

Greg Lambert  33:39

Of course, now, I have a new dream, although I may be too late in it, and that is to have my own personal firework show over Ellis Island. So not sure I’m going to be able to swing that but, you know, maybe a person can dream.

Greg Lambert  33:55

Keep working on it. Keep working on it.

Greg Lambert  33:57

Well, thanks again to MC Sungaila from the Portia Project for coming on and talking to us.

Marlene Gebauer  40:44

Yes, thanks, MC. We want to thank all of you for taking the time to listen to The Geek in Review podcast. If you enjoy the show, share it with a colleague. We’d love to hear from you. So reach out to us on social media. I can be found at @gebauerm on Twitter,

Greg Lambert  40:58

And I can be reached at @glambert on Twitter.

Marlene Gebauer  41:01

Or leave us a voicemail on The Geek in Review Hotline at 713-487-7270 and as always, the music you hear is from Jerry David DeCicca Thank you, Jerry.

Greg Lambert  41:12

Thanks, Jerry. Alright, Marlene, I will talk with you later.

Marlene Gebauer  34:33

Okay, bye bye.