Women In Law Virtual Roundtable Q&A with Chase Johnson

Women in Law - Chase Johnson

Chase Johnson is a trial lawyer in the Dallas offices of Waters Kraus Paul & Siegel. Her practice focuses on representing individuals harmed by asbestos exposure, dangerous and defective products, toxic exposure, and birth injuries. She is a 2023 graduate of the Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law, where she was senior articles editor for the Jurimetrics Journal of Law, Science, and Technology. In addition, she earned her bachelor of science degree, cum laude, from the University of Texas at Dallas.

Read on to learn what Chase had to say during our Women’s History Month virtual round table.

Waters Kraus Paul & Siegel: According to the American Bar Association, there are approximately 1.4 million licensed attorneys in the United States. While there may be obvious overlap in experiences and reasons for choosing to become a lawyer, no two people are the same. What, or who is it that inspired you to pursue a career in law?

Chase Johnson: I was interested in the law and how it impacted people for a long time, but I knew I did not want to go into politics. As I grew up, I realized how complicated navigating the legal system is for someone who does not have an education in it. I wanted to be someone who could help others navigate the system to get justice, and I wanted to be the type of lawyer who really cared for their clients. I thought that pursuing a career in law would be a good way to try and make a positive impact on my community.

WKPS: Continued determination and a tough work ethic are part of a universal code shared among successful attorneys. In fact, a career as a lawyer has been a hallmark of prestige for generations now. But what exactly enabled your career to flourish? How would you personally encourage young girls thinking about becoming attorneys, but are scared of the challenges that lie ahead?

CJ: My mom and grandparents have always been very supportive of me. Whenever I wanted to chase after something, they always encouraged me no matter how difficult my goals seemed to achieve. My mom is a teacher, and one of the most important things she taught me was to have a growth mindset. Approaching my career by acknowledging that there is always something more to learn has made a better lawyer. I would encourage young girls who are thinking about becoming attorneys to think of challenges not as something to be afraid of but as something that will make you a stronger and better attorney and person. I think that it is also helpful to remember that the women in law that we look up to also faced similar challenges and were able to rise above them, and if they can do so, you can as well. Lastly, something that I have learned is that it is important to trust yourself; you are more capable than you think.

WKPS: The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way many people work and affected many routine legal proceedings. How have these changes impacted your own career?

CJ: I started law school in the fall of 2020, so my legal education and career has always existed in a post-COVID-19 world. I think that post-pandemic, being comfortable and familiar with technology is something that is even more important. I think that it has also made our world smaller in a way; people are a zoom call away instead of a flight. Using technology to meet virtually has also decreased the amount of time I would have spent traveling which allows me to have a more regular schedule and spend more time with my family.

WKPS: Where do you think we are in terms of gender equality in the legal profession? Do you believe that people’s expectations of women lawyers have changed in the past 50 years? Or will the majority of Americans always be more willing to put their faith in men practicing law?

CJ: I think that we have progressed in terms of gender equality in the legal profession, but we still have a ways to go. When I was in law school, I noticed that the other women in my class experienced a lot more condescension and misogyny through email than I did, and I realized that it was likely because I have a gender neutral name and most assume I am a man before meeting me. That experience opened my eyes to how much more weight people still put on a man’s thoughts and opinions compared to a woman’s. I think that expectations of women lawyers have changed over the years, and I believe we are viewed as more competent than in the past. However, I do think that we are still held to different expectation with how we present ourselves, both in how we look and how we act.

WKPS:  What do you think needs to change in our society, or possibly even in our world, for women to be given their fair share in their legal professions, and every other profession?

CJ: I think that we need to have more women that are visible in the legal profession that are successful. I especially think that we need more women in positions of leadership in the legal field. I think part of the problem is that when the average person thinks of a lawyer or a judge, they will still most likely picture a man, and I think that this is because that archetype is the most common still today. I think we also need to continue to encourage young girls to think of pursuing a career in law. Careers in STEM have a similar issue, and I think that having similar types of outreach in the legal field like what is done in STEM can help ensure that the next generation of women have their fair share.

WKPS: What is the single most important lesson you learned in your career as a legal professional, and how has that skill proven to be vital for your professional growth?

CJ: You can always learn something. In the legal profession it is important to seek out people who can be a kind of mentor for you and truly learn from them. It is equally important to always be seeking knowledge yourselves and not just take someone else’s word for it just because they are older or have more experience. If you are always learning, you won’t make the same mistake twice; and you may be able to avoid making a mistake the first time too. The law is always evolving, so seeking knowledge yourself is important because while something that someone with more experience tells you may have been true at one point, it may not still be the best way to do something. Always being willing to learn has also helped me keep a positive mindset when facing challenges which has helped me grow as a professional.

What are my chances?

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