Meet the New KCWWL President, Interview with Kara F. Morse
In what area of law do you focus your practice, and what is the most challenging part of your practice?
I am a regulatory and transactional health care attorney at Stoel Rives, LLP. That means I help health care entities such as medical groups, hospitals, managed care organizations and large employers navigate through the new world being formed by health care reform so that they can continue to provide high quality services to patients and enrollees. I advise clients regarding organizational documents, contracts, mergers and acquisitions, and strategic ventures; all of which must be compliant with the unique health care regulatory framework, including Medicare, Medicaid, fraud and abuse laws, HIPAA and many others. The hardest part of my job is certainly not unique--it’s keeping up with all the new guidance, recognizing how one issue fits within the larger framework, and synthesizing it all to bring added value to our clients.
What made you interested in becoming a part of the KCWWL Board, and what are some of your goals for your presidency?
I joined KCWWL as one of my first acts in Seattle. I had just moved here from Philadelphia and a friend invited me to attend a board meeting. I was looking for a job at the time and welcomed any opportunity to network, especially with other female attorneys in the city. My timing was impeccable, as the group was looking for a Secretary. I volunteered and was voted in. Over the next couple of years I moved to President-Elect and now President. It’s been a quick transition to leadership, but I wouldn’t have even considered it without the incredible work of my predecessors (Sarah Mack and Erin Wilson) and the rest of the board.
When I initially joined KCWWL, I was certainly interested in the networking aspect of the group, but now it has really become about a broader community of women. It has given me opportunities to mix with litigators, government lawyers, criminal lawyers, in-house counsel and judges that I would never have met as a corporate lawyer. I have also very much enjoyed volunteering in our ongoing partnership with Mary’s Place. Our Civic Affairs chair, Stephanie Marshall, has really turned that into something meaningful for both our members and the women we serve at the center.
As President I hope to support the board so that we can maintain our flagship events (including the Judicial Appreciation Luncheon, speed networking and Criminal Law Soiree), and continue to increase our presence in the broader community. This means strengthening our connections to groups like Mary’s Place, the law schools and other minority bar groups. I consider KCWWL’s greatest value to be in creating a community where female attorneys can interact and inspire/educate/energize one another.
You have significant volunteer experience helping the underprivileged and disabled; what inspired you to give back to the community in that manner?
My parents instilled that value in me. I have always felt privileged by the family and opportunities I’ve had, so I am happy to contribute some small part of that back in terms of time and money. Plus, engaging with the communities in which I live and work makes me feel more purposeful and connected.
Do you have a most significant woman mentor or role model?
I have never had just one person that I saw as a mentor, but I do look to others for inspiration. In the public sphere, a few of the extraordinary women I admire are Hillary Clinton, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Christine Gregoire for being intelligent, compelling, socially conscious and indefatigable. More importantly, however, I am surrounded by friends and family who act as sounding boards and role models every day.
If you could give a piece of advice either personal or professional (or both) to new women attorneys what would you tell them?
A colleague once told me that there are three aspects to job satisfaction: the work you do, the people you do it with, and how it fits in with your life more broadly. This isn’t a magical formula, but it does make more sense to me than the concept of “work-life balance”, which I think set up a false dichotomy between “work” and “life.” My work is a big part of my life, and I try to make sure that it is a positive influence by managing the mix of all three elements. If one is suffering at any given time, I can usually find strength in the other two to put things in perspective and move forward.