Ellen M. Jakovic is Of Counsel in the antitrust group at Kirkland & Ellis LLP. Prior to 2021, Ellen was a partner and headed the Firm’s Hart-Scott Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act (HSR) filing practice. She was recently elected as President-Elect of the DC Bar and has served as President of both the WBA (2002-2003) and WBA Foundation (2006-2008). She has served on the Board of many legal organizations, including the DC Bar Foundation, Bar Association of the District of Columbia, The Barristers, Council for Court Excellence, American Bar Foundation, Fellows of the American Bar Foundation, and Washington Foreign Law Society.
Ellen is involved in her community as well, recently serving on the Boards of the National Cathedral School, Protestant Episcopal Cathedral Foundation, St. Albans School, and The Doane Stuart School (Albany). A graduate of Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges, and Harvard Law School, she has served on the boards of the Harvard Club of Washington and Friends of Harvard Softball.
A two-sport collegiate athlete, Ellen was among the first wave of women to benefit from the passage of Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, which will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year. She believes that lessons learned through sports transcend the playing field and open opportunities for leadership, especially for women and girls. She and her husband, David Lipson, encouraged their children to participate in recreational and travel sports, and have been thrilled to watch their daughter compete at the collegiate level in women’s rugby.
When did you join the WBA?
I joined in the early 1990s. I became more active after the birth of my daughter in 1996.
What committees/forums have you been involved in?
I co-chaired the Working Parent’s Forum and served on the WBA board before I became WBA President in 2002. I served on the Annual Dinner Planning Committee and other event committees for many years and was one of the co-chairs of the Centennial Committee in 2017.
Why did you join the Women’s Bar Association?
I joined the WBA at the urging of the Honorable Delissa Ridgeway (WBA President 1992-1993), who recruited me to run on the WBA team in the annual Lawyers Have Heart Race. I became active in the Working Parents Forum of the WBA after the birth of my daughter in 1996. I am forever grateful for the support and mentoring I received and the community that welcomed me during this challenging period of my life — struggling to navigate my new responsibilities as a parent while continuing to advance my professional career.
What benefits do you get from being a part of the WBA?
As a member of the WBA, I am part of an amazing sisterhood! My WBA colleagues have become life-long friends and supporters — there for me in times of challenge and times of celebration. Mentors are important at every stage of one’s career, especially during times of transition, and the WBA network is extensive and inclusive. I am proud of the WBA’s work to support and advance women in the profession, further diversity and inclusion, and advance access to justice in our community.
Why do you think others should join?
Joining the WBA is an investment in one’s career! Not only can you participate in interesting and timely programs, you will have opportunities to develop important leadership skills — from executing fundraising campaigns, to spearheading policy evaluation and implementation, to planning programs and events both large and small. You will find mentors and become mentors to others. You will be part of a supportive, collegial group of impressive women (and men!) laser-focused on advancing women in the profession and enhancing the welfare of all women and girls in our community. And perhaps most important, you will find a supportive, welcoming, and collegial membership that not only does good, but has fun as well!
Do you have a mentor/hero?
I have had many terrific mentors throughout my personal and professional life. Probably my most important mentors have been my parents. My late father (a physician, not a lawyer) fostered in all of his children a love of learning and encouraged me to work hard, act with integrity, and never define myself by the expectations or limitations others might place on me. My mother taught me the importance of being kind and respectful to others. They both were active in community/charitable/service organizations and instilled in me the importance of being involved in my community.
What words of advice do you have for women new to the profession?
There is no substitute for working hard — you have to know your stuff. Make connections, volunteer, and network — not only will this be helpful professionally, but you will find the personal connections critical to your mental and emotional wellbeing. Be flexible and resilient — depending on what life throws at you, you may need to make tradeoffs and that may open up new opportunities. I like to think of the advice Mother Superior gave Maria in The Sound of Music: “When the Lord closes a door, somewhere he opens a window.”
What is the best advice you have received?
Some of the best advice I have received was from Her Excellency Christine Lagarde, the first woman to serve as global chair of Baker & McKenzie (currently President of the European Central Bank, and prior to that, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund), during remarks at an ABA program that the WBA co-sponsored: “It is possible to have it all, but perhaps, not all at the same time.” Lagarde described her difficult decision to step back from her legal practice for a time to focus on parenting her two children. For me at that time, a young mother struggling to balance my career and my family, the idea that this powerful woman had faced similar challenges and succeeded at her law firm despite putting her career on hold temporarily was a revelation.