Tamara Kraljic is Counsel at Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP where she works principally with the Arbitration and the Anti-Corruption & Internal Investigations practice groups.

Tamara considers this question: “How can we re-think the corporate law firm model to create a space that works for women, mothers, caretakers and generally people – of any gender, background and generation – who want a healthy life while practicing a profession they love?” Her response to us: “As a senior counsel at a major corporate law firm with 13+ years of experience and mother of three young boys under the age of 8, this question is personal to me. It all started one day, in the middle of the pandemic. My husband and I – both two full-time attorneys in Big Law at the time, were working around the clock, our two boys were out of school and in our tiny Capitol Hill house wanting attention; I was six months pregnant with our third. Looking into my tired eyes, my oldest son asked me on morning: ‘Why don’t Daddy and you get jobs that allow you to sleep?’ I was stunned.”

Since then, Tamara has made it a mission to find balance in a profession that she loves but that needs – in her view – to make drastic changes to retain old and attract new talent. She continues, “The question above far exceeds my personal experience and the experience of parent lawyers. It is increasingly clear that the younger generation of attorneys wants to have a different work-life balance. This is why we need to look at work-life balance in the legal and professional services industry not as a ‘nice thing to do’ but a ‘demand and supply’ issue.”

Putting her words into action, Tamara is excited to co-organize the “Future of Work” speaker series (more about this below) to explore these questions, inviting thought-leaders and practitioners to share their success stories in this field.

Tamara is member of the Women’s White Collar Defense Association, a fantastic, global network of women, and is active in the Defense Bar and related industries. As a chair of her firm’s pro-bono committee, she also regularly supports the Legal Aid Society of Washington DC. She volunteer with her sons’ school and supports several local and national non-profits, including the Anacostia and Potomac Riverkeeper Associations and Oceania.

When did you join the WBA?
May 2023

In what committees/forums have you been involved?
I am Co-Chair of the Professional Development Committee and a member of the Working Parents Subcommittee.

Why did you join the Women’s Bar Association?
I joined WBA and took on a leadership position as Co-Chair of the Professional Development Committee for two, interrelated reasons: (1) community and (2) action. Community, because the WBA provides a strong network of diverse women, united in their goal to promote women in the profession. Action, because the WBA and its leadership team, headed by president Kandis Gibson, inspire all of us to take action in the spirit of the WBA’s 2023 theme of “Leading Forward”. There is still so much room for improvement, so many ways we can reshape the mold of a profession that was created at a time when women did not have a seat at the table! That is why I, together with my WBA co-chairs Dina Broydo and Debra Friedman, am putting together a “Future of Work” speaker series. The kick-off panel is scheduled for November 8, 2023 at 12:00pm EST (virtual and free of charge); panelists such as Deloitte’s Global Chief DEI Officer will speak about alternative work arrangements in the professional services industry.

What benefits do you get from being a part of the WBA and why do you think others should join?
As a member, I benefit from WBA’s amazing programming, which – thanks to the WBA’s multi-facetted committee and sub-committee structure – covers a wide range of topics and formats (from social golf outings to substantive webinars and panels). As Co-Chair of the Professional Development Committee, the WBA provides me with a platform to advocate for change and progress for women in the professional services industry. I am inspired by and learn from other WBA co-chairs.

How has being a parent enhanced your career?
I learned to stop overthinking and get things done more efficiently. I also recognize the importance of feeling heard and seen. That is the true for a toddler or small child having a tantrum, as it is true for an angered client or colleague.

Do you have a mentor/hero?
I have had several mentors in my professional life but the biggest hero of them all is likely my paternal grandmother. My grandmother found herself alone with her toddler son (my father) and no means when her husband (my grandfather) went off as a partisan to fight the Nazis in Slovenia. She found herself alone again after my grandfather – returning from Dachau after the war ended – was imprisoned for seven years by the Yugoslav communist regime. Through all of this, my grandmother persevered and never lost her appetite for life. She did cartwheels at age 72, laughed, and swore like a pirate! Whenever I need to cheer myself up, I recall the image of my grandmother sitting on a wooden bench in her sunny vegetable garden in Ljubljana, sipping coffee and smoking Western-brand cigarettes (smuggled in/gifted by my father). Stillness and joy.

What words of advice do you have for women new to the profession?
You don’t need to take the past as a roadmap for the future. This profession will change immensely in the next few years, including due to technological advances and other, societal changes. It’s time to carve your own path.

What is the best advice you have received?
Don’t believe everything you think.
Don’t take yourself too seriously.