Name: Tanya Landon
Practice Group: International Arbitration
What should lawyers at Sidley know about your practice?
I’m in the international arbitration group and mostly practice international commercial arbitration, which involves cross-border disputes between companies from different countries. What I really like about my practice is that each case is different and unique — they involve different governing laws, industry sectors and business practices.
You’re a member of the Committee on Retention and Promotion of Women. In your opinion, are there any challenges that women lawyers in Europe face that differ from their counterparts in America?
One thing that I believe women lawyers in Europe would like is more flexibility, including more policies promoting reduced schedules and the ability to work from home. At Sidley, lawyers really benefit from a great deal of flexibility, and I assume the same is true for many other American law firms in Europe. This isn’t necessarily the case at Swiss or other European firms, although they are trying to institute more policies and options to promote flexibility. Fortunately, at Sidley, we benefit from many work-life balance policies.
You were recently promoted to partner while working a reduced schedule. What can you share about the experience?
I was promoted to partner in 2014 and worked a reduced schedule before, during and after that process. I’ve worked a reduced schedule since the birth of my first daughter nine years ago. Once I came back after her birth, I realized it was going to be difficult for me to manage a full-time schedule. I transitioned to the reduced schedule and was originally at 80 percent. Since then, my schedule has fluctuated — if I’m busier, I’ve gone up to 90 percent and I’m at 75 percent right now. Having flexibility has been key to continuing to do my job.
Are there any challenges to working a reduced schedule?
The hardest part about working a reduced schedule is managing the busy periods. In those periods, leading up to a filing or hearing, I work full-time. When you have young kids, though, you just can’t put them on hold. I find having back-up support is absolutely necessary. I have a very hands-on husband, which is great, and we’ve had an au pair for the last four years. Without some kind of additional help, it would be very difficult for us to manage. For me, a reduced schedule is extremely important, but it’s not a magic bullet that makes everything easy. I still face many challenges in balancing my professional and home life.
What advice would you give women lawyers who may be considering working a reduced schedule?
I’ve talked to people over the years who have had concerns and questions about a reduced schedule . . . how does it work? . . . do you really get to work the reduced hours all the time? And the simple answer is “no.” We benefit from flexibility from the firm, but you also owe that same flexibility back to the firm. Even on reduced hours, you have to put in the long hours with the team during the busy periods. In order to avoid misunderstandings, knowing what you’re getting into and managing expectations with colleagues is key.
I also tell younger women not to be afraid to raise the issue of a reduced schedule because you think somehow it will be an end to your career or you won’t be promoted — because it’s just not true. I think if you make a good case for it, if it’s something you really want and you work hard at getting right — working a reduced schedule can be a great option.
You recently organized a successful speed-networking event for ArbitralWomen that was the first of its kind in Switzerland. How did it go?
It was a great event. The idea is to meet and speak to as many people as possible in 10-minute increments. One of the interesting aspects about arbitration practice is that you can act both as counsel and as arbitrator — and many arbitration practitioners aspire to do both. It can be difficult to get your first arbitrator appointments, particularly for younger women, because the same people are selected repeatedly for these positions. It’s hard to break into that network, and the best way to do it is to get your name out there. The speed-networking event is designed to help women in the profession get to know each other, so they can champion and promote one another as arbitrators.
Tanya Landon (right) at the ArbitralWomen SpeendNet event.