Editor’s Note: MSJDN asked its members to help us spotlight employers going above and beyond for military spouse attorneys. Each employer in this series was nominated for the 2016 MSJDN Members’ Choice Award by members who told us in their own words about the awesomeness of their employers. MSJDN is thrilled to tell these stories as a way of expressing our gratitude for employers supporting military spouses as they build careers in the legal profession.
The MSJDN Members’ Choice Award recipient will be announced at MSJDN’s Annual Reception in Arlington, VA, on May 12th.
MSJDN member Anna Jane Zarndt had a discouraging start to her journey as a military spouse attorney. She moved to Norfolk, Virginia, where her fiance was stationed and wanted to continue her own career. The advice she received from other attorneys was disheartening — to lie about her fiance’s profession because no one would hire a military spouse. And the early results of her job search seemed to bear that out. She was told that no firm would hire an attorney who was not staying in the area long term, and that she would only be able to work in the public interest sector or as a volunteer. She was deemed ineligible for a federal clerkship when she could not make a three-year commitment to the court. The job hunt was discouraging, but Zarndt persevered.
Last August, her determination paid off. When she interviewed with Troutman Sanders, she did not hide her military affiliation. The firm was completely understanding of the particular challenges she faced in trying to maintain her own career while serving alongside her service member. The interviewers introduced her to other military spouse attorneys to help her decide whether to leave Legal Aid and return to private practice.
Zarndt accepted the offer, and almost immediately, Troutman Sanders showed true sensitivity to the unique circumstances thrust on military families and genuine commitment to supporting military families. First, Zarndt’s fiance received short orders to deploy around the time she was scheduled to start at the firm, so they agreed to delay her start date. Then, his squadron shut down unexpectedly and he PCS’d (relocated) to San Diego. Troutman Sanders also transferred Zarndt to their San Diego office, with a fairly seamless transition. The firm offers flexible schedules and remote work opportunities, so she was able to work and keep her case load current even during a cross-country PCS.
Troutman Sanders has recognized the value that military spouse attorneys bring to the firm and its clients, and has demonstrated its willingness to invest in those attorneys and find ways to retain them. Having offices nationwide and in Asia, the firm’s traditional “brick and mortar” offices can support attorneys at multiple duty stations, as Zarndt’s experience proves. The firm also deploys its firm-wide policies relating to flexibility and remote work in ways that allow military spouse attorneys to maintain their own careers despite the uncertainties of military life. Troutman Sanders sets an inspiring example by leveraging its existing policies and cultures in a way that allows it to retain talented attorneys who, in turn, are extremely loyal to the firm. “I am nominating Troutman Sanders because they show a unique sensitivity to issues faced by military spouses in the legal profession,” said Zarndt.
Military families are grateful for employers like Troutman Sanders that provide meaningful opportunities for military spouses to maintain their careers. MSJDN is pleased to recognize the well-deserved nomination of Troutman Sanders for the 2016 Members’ Choice Award!
Find out the recipient of the MSJDN Members’ Choice Award at the 2016 Annual Reception in Washington, D.C. on May 12th. Tickets and information available here.