Molly Brummond has worn many hats over the course of her ten-year career at the University of Nebraska College of Law.
Communicator. Events organizer. Student life and alumni relations extraordinaire.
Closest to her heart, though, are the roles she’s played in the education and development of women lawyers like herself.
“One of my great passions is the advancement of women in their careers — the law particularly, because I am a lawyer, and I’ve experienced the profession,” said Brummond, who currently serves as the school’s assistant dean for external relations and strategic initiatives. “It’s a profession that was built for men. Obviously there has been a lot of change in that, but there’s still a long way to go.”
On March 12, Brummond was named the 2020 recipient of the Chancellor’s Outstanding Contribution to Women Award. The annual honor recognizes a campus community member who has created a climate that encourages women to succeed at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
“I’m just so thrilled by it,” Brummond said. “I feel super lucky that I get to work on something that I love so much and then be recognized for it. It’s just sort of icing on the cake.”
A 2003 alumna of Nebraska Law, Brummond has firsthand experience with the uphill battle women lawyers can face in their careers.
“What’s happening is that women go into the practice of law at the same rate as men, generally — but if you look at how their careers progress, a lot of them opt out of the profession. A lot of that has to do with how demanding it is,” Brummond said.
“I opted out when I had my first baby, because I just didn’t want to live in a perpetual state of guilt. Guilt because I was working too much and not spending time with my baby, or guilt that I was spending too much time with my baby and not billing enough time. I don’t think I’m alone in that. There are really fabulous women lawyers who navigate it and they make it work and they do it, but it’s important to me that we figure out how to help more women stay in the profession.”
With that understanding in mind, Brummond has made female empowerment in the law one of her central focuses at Nebraska — starting with the Women Leading in Law, Business and Philanthropy conference she organized in 2017.
“It was just a day of magic, and before that day was even over, people were coming up to me and saying, ‘So what’s next?’ They just really loved it,” Brummond said. “That conference served as my jumping off point and helped me start to think about what the college could do to support women lawyers. That’s kind of how it all began.”
This year, Brummond was the organizer of Women Lead 2020 — a conference on Nebraska Innovation Campus hosted in partnership with the College of Business. The interdisciplinary event, which encouraged women to “Claim Your Power,” gathered a sold-out crowd of 325 participants.
“What we wanted to do is bring together women in law, business and philanthropy so that they meet each other that they know each other they can refer business to each other. That partnership with the College of Business is super important, because we really want to help women grow their professional networks,” Brummond said.
Brummond has also started three new programs to support female lawyers in varying stages of their careers.
“After that conference where people were asking me ‘What’s next?’, I developed a program for women at different stages of their career called New, Now, Next,” Brummond said. “The New Associate Acceleration Academy is an academy that I run for new associates in their first couple of years of practice. It’s designed to help women leaders who are really early in their careers succeed in the practice of law.”
“The Now Leadership Cohort is for women who are mid-career, and they’re beginning to really take on leadership roles. We talk a lot about leadership principles and how to navigate leadership situations. The Next Lunch Series is really more informal lunches that are addressed at women who are more advanced in their careers and are looking to make a change.”
Reflecting back on her career at the university, Brummond is grateful for the opportunities she’s been given to expand programming and make a difference.
“Not everybody gets to work on something that they are truly so passionate about,” Brummond said.