How I Made It to Law Firm Leadership: ‘When Opportunities Arose, I Said Yes,’ Says Alison Ashmore of Dykema Gossett

Linda D. Garrow

Job Title: Member; executive board member.

Practice Area: Business Litigation Practice Group.

Law school and year of graduation: Baylor Law School, 2007.

How long have you been at the firm? Nine years, since February 2013.

Alison Ashmore/courtesy photo

How long were you a partner at the firm before being promoted to firm leadership? I was promoted to hiring partner for the Dallas office in 2015, became a partner Jan. 1, 2016, and was a member of the Professional Personnel Committee from 2016-2020 before being appointed to the Executive Board in 2021.

Were there any surprises you faced after becoming a leader at the firm? I was pleasantly surprised to see that there are so many decisions made by consensus building. Dykema is a very collegial and collaborative place to work and that starts with the leadership.

What do you think was the deciding point for the firm in elevating you to your current position? When opportunities arose, I said yes. I let people know that I was willing and interested in serving. I think the firm recognized my commitment to fairness, to putting the interests of the firm first, and desire to make Dykema the best firm it can be. I am deeply grateful for the investment and support of Dykema in my career and want to repay that by serving the firm and pay it forward by investing in and mentoring others.

What advice would you give to someone whose goal is to ascend to firm leadership? Hone your listening skills as well as your advocacy and always keep track of the big picture. Seemingly small or isolated decisions may impact other situations or outcomes.

Who had the greatest influence in your career that helped propel you to your leadership role? I’m fortunate to have a lot of great mentors and advocates. Outside Dykema, Bob Mow and Kim Askew demonstrated how to be a leader and connected me with opportunities. Within Dykema, two of my partners in Dallas, Jeff Fine and Chris Kratovil, encouraged me to step into management roles and promoted me to other decision-makers. Their support has been invaluable.

If you had a chance to advise or mentor your younger self, what advice would you give to yourself? You’ve got this! Keep going and don’t worry about the “what ifs.” Failure is not the worst thing in the world. You can succeed just by trying.

How do you keep your teams motivated during these unprecedented times? Connection and encouragement. Everyone has a need for affirmation and feeling appreciated.

What’s an accomplishment that you are proudest of? Gaining the trust of clients who depend on me for important matters, are confident in the advice and services I provide, and know that I am working for their best interests.

What’s the one characteristic that you believe every firm leader should possess? Integrity. Integrity is a driver for making good decisions, gaining trust, and being fair-minded.

What is the one behavior or trait that you have seen derail more leaders’ careers?Compromising on principles a little at a time. Sometimes it starts from a desire to succeed, get the win, or take the business, but compromising on values to gain in the short term is never a good idea in the long run.

What three key elements you would like to focus on for 2022.  Engagement—reestablishing connections and commitment that may have diminished. Focus—give time and attention to worthwhile efforts.

What’s the key to running a successful initiative in your opinion—and based on recent events, such as COVID and work-from-home policies, has your definition of success changed? My definition of success has evolved over time. When I first started practicing law, success was something for the future, after a list of goals were checked off. Now success is more about enjoying the striving and growing rather than just the achieving.

With diversity and inclusion in mind, how can women better position themselves for success and for leadership roles in law firms? Look for allies and be an ally for others. Leadership in law firms, as in many things, is about promoting and celebrating your teammates. Allow others to promote and celebrate your wins and actively volunteer to do it for others.

For more career advancement success stories, check out the “How I Made It” Q&A series on Law.com.  

ALM’s Professionals Network on LinkedIn, Advancing Future LeadersWe are excited about this pivotal group. Click here to join.

https://www.law.com/2022/04/26/how-i-made-it-to-law-firm-leadership-when-opportunities-arose-i-said-yes-says-alison-ashmore-of-dykema-gossett/

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