Applications for Biz 417’s Best Places to Work 2024 are open! Enter Now

Leadership

Husch Blackwell Chief Executive-elect Jamie Lawless on how to land your dream job

She’s the incoming leader of one of America’s largest law firms, and she’s not a lawyer. Jamie Lawless shares how – with preparation, opportunity and luck – she landed the top role at Husch Blackwell.

By Ren Bishop

Dec 13 2023 at 8 a.m.

Jamie Lawless of Husch Blackwell
Jamie Lawless of Husch Blackwell

For Jamie Lawless, success is the collision of opportunity, luck and preparation. After 26 years as a leader in innovative businesses, Fortune 500 companies and one of America’s largest law firms, she had all three when she was named chief executive elect of Husch Blackwell in July 2023.

For her, it was a dream job, leading a major law firm as its chief executive – a job she wasn’t sure was even possible for her.

“The opportunity to lead Husch Blackwell as chief executive came to me when I was at a pivotal point in my career and in my life,” she says. “I had recently made the philosophical decision that I wanted to pursue a chief executive type position next and had the experience and track record to go after it. What I wasn’t sure of was if I could do this role in the legal industry that I had grown to absolutely love. If you think about it, very few law firms have business professionals in this top position. The majority are lawyers. So you can imagine my delight when the recruiter called me last year to talk about Husch Blackwell.”

With a strategic mission of people-first leadership, Jamie Lawless beat out more than 1,000 applicants for the top job at Husch Blackwell. She shares how with preparation, opportunity and luck, she landed her dream job – and you can, too.

PRESENTED BY

Husch Blackwell logo

Know Your Personal and Professional Values

While Lawless was looking for an opportunity to serve as an organization’s chief executive, the title of a job wasn’t what drew her to Husch Blackwell. Instead, she was focused on finding an opportunity to serve within a firm culture that matched her personal and professional values, she says. 

“I went into the vetting process making one promise to myself: I would be completely authentic and true to who I was, not only as a leader, but as a person,” said Lawless. “I’ve worked way too long and way too hard to not be anywhere that’s not a perfect fit when it comes to values and culture perspective, and I wasn’t really prepared to compromise on either. Fortunately, Husch Blackwell’s values, their culture, their approach to people and clients were completely aligned, not only how I show up at work but in life. So accepting the role felt like coming home.”

Learn From Leaders Around You and Hone Your Leadership Style

For more than two decades, Lawless was surrounded by some of the top leaders, experts and minds in business, in a variety of industries. But she didn’t just excel within diverse environments, she intentionally sought out mentorship to develop her own leadership style.

“Very early on in my career, I had access to many leaders at Fortune 500 companies and at Am Law firms, both women and men, and through that exposure, I learned very early on what I valued and respected in their leadership styles and personal ambitions,” she says. “Equally, I learned what I didn’t find valuable or inspiring, and I think these lessons helped inform the kind of person and leader I wanted to be, the traits I admired. So as I grew more senior in my role and my life, I started to build a successful track record of my own, while learning how my own authentic leadership values and traits benefited the organizations that I worked for, the teams that I led, and the people I kept in my life.”

Gain And Maintain Clarity Of Your Big Career Goals

No matter your current role, no matter your age, Lawless insists that clarity in decision making can help anyone reach and exceed their own professional goals. To do that, Lawless recommends creating a personal Board of Advisors: a group of trusted people in your network or family that will keep you focused when doubt creeps in. 

“Surround yourself with friends and mentors who not only will keep you focused, but will keep you on task during those moments when you will start to question yourself, because you will; we all do,” she says. “By building a team and network of people around you who are, in many ways, your confidence coaches, you’ll be able to better focus on the end goal when you start to doubt yourself.”

Believe You Can Land Your Dream Job

When the job alert hits your inbox, a friend texts you a link or you see a LinkedIn post with that dream job, shoot for the stars. Even if you believe you’re not totally ready for a role, if you have the credentials, have the confidence to go after your dream job.

Lawless participated in a Women’s Leadership event in Florida last fall, where top female executives spoke about confidence. Three of the women on the panel shared how they encountered imposter syndrome themselves when their dream job came along, believing their resumes and CVs weren’t 100 percent ready for their current top roles. But each of them has had tremendous success: a lesson for women in business, says Lawless.

“I think that a lot of the difference between 80 percent ready and 100 percent ready for a dream job is in our heads,” she says. “As women, we are too hard on ourselves. We need to go for the stretch opportunities. We need to be able to fail fast. We need to be able to say that we tried to do something bigger than what we thought we could do, and we succeeded. You work hard enough and you’re going to get the job done. We need to ignore the voice that says we’re 80 percent there. We can rise.”


Business Listings: