Pfizer GC Offers Tips to Women Lawyers: Don't Worry About Being Perfect, and Have Fun

Women lawyers tend to think they need to be perfect, and, in contrast to their male colleagues, they are often overly critical of themselves.

But mistakes are inevitable, and it’s important to be able to learn from them and move on without agonizing, says Amy Schulman, senior vice president and general counsel of Pfizer Inc.

An embarrassing chair incident that sent her toppling over backwards with her legs in the air at her first deposition didn’t derail her career, she told an audience recently at the 12th Annual Wharton Women in Business Conference in Philadelphia.

And women are more likely to step off the law firm partnership track because they believe they are underappreciated, she suggests, than because they are truly seeking work/life balance, Knowledge@Wharton reports.

It’s also very important to enjoy your work, and enthusiasm is one of the key qualities she looks for in everyone she hires, Schulman says.

As a law firm partner, when she looked ahead, “I actually couldn’t see the next 10 years. It just felt like more of the same,” she recounts. “So when the Pfizer job became open, I decided that this was something that was going to be more fun than what I was doing. Fun was the operative word.”

Related coverage: “In Fortune 500, About One in Five GCs Is a Woman” “Pfizer GC Pushes for Flat Fees and Gets Them”

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