Mayer’s Mother-Daughter Duo Leading The Way
Over 30 years ago, Mayer civil litigation attorney Deborah Junek began her career at another law firm, becoming the first female attorney to join their team. A few years later, she was also the firm’s first female attorney to have a baby.
In the 1990s, being a full-time trial attorney and mom was not nearly as common as it is today. In fact, it seemed somewhat groundbreaking. The Dallas Bar Association even published an article featuring Deb’s take on juggling a career and parenthood. Despite the obstacles, Deb was determined to make partner — and also be a full-time mom. She was a trailblazer for her fellow female attorneys.
Today, Deb works at Mayer with her daughter Jessica, who represents clients in a variety of disputes including personal injury, wrongful death and construction defect matters. However, Jess readily admits that she didn’t always want to be a lawyer. It wasn’t until she started working temporarily as a paralegal for her mom that she realized how much she enjoyed putting together a strong case.
It was also then that Jess got to see her mom’s work in action firsthand. She recalls being in awe of how brilliant she was, “she was just such a badass,” Jess smiled. This defining moment inspired her to become an attorney.
As a paralegal, Jess had the opportunity to exercise her stellar communications skills, which she now puts into practice advocating in state and federal courts. Over time, Deb and Jess also discovered how well they worked together as a legal team.
Outside the office, the pair also makes a great team coaching future attorneys on St Mary’s trial team. They have led the national trial team to two, back-to-back national championships at the National Trial League Mock Trial Competition hosted by Syracuse University School of Law. They also both volunteer together and are active leaders in their community.
Jess is grateful to have her mom to help her navigate through her career as a female attorney and share the experience together. But she also recognizes that many young female professionals are lacking mentorship – something the two are passionate about changing. When asked about the best advice her mother gave her, Jess recalled Deb would say, “There’s a lot that you can’t control, but you can always control how hard you work. So just keep working hard.”
Looking back over three decades, Deb says that in addition to hard work, having a supportive team was integral to navigating her career and parenthood. “Our job takes a team, with or without kids. Having a supportive team and mentors is so crucial. At Mayer, taking a team approach is what makes us unique as a firm. We are constantly growing and learning together.”
The dynamic duo looks forward to representing more clients together and continuing to serve as mentors for the next generation of female attorneys.