Amber Banks loved the practice of law as an associate, but she found adjusting to law firm life challenging, she says in this week’s Drinks With The Deal podcast.
As a lawyer from a nontraditional background, she says, “I felt that I had to fit into this package of what everyone expected of me. And along the way I started losing myself. I was so seduced by the idea of being successful and achieving all these things that people where I came from didn’t get to achieve that I felt the weight of that.”
Banks, an M&A and private equity partner at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP in New York, grew up in a small town in Texas and worked her way through the University of San Diego in 2004 as a waitress. That job and others she held as a teenager and young adult “did prepare me for dealing with a lot of different personalities,” she says. “You get yelled at, things are said to you that are probably inappropriate, you’re dealing with constraints, you’re rushing around.”
Though she felt confident intellectually as a student at Harvard Law School and as a young lawyer, she says, “I felt like I was a step behind” in understanding and fitting into the social world she had entered. It’s a feeling shared by many women and people of color in the legal profession, she says, who often “don’t have the confidence that we don’t have to contort ourselves into something else to be successful.” On the podcast, she discusses how firms and clients can do a much better job of creating a more open profession.