Kristen Beightol on Paying it Forward through Being a Mentor
Mar 12, 2021
March is Women’s History Month! In celebration and recognition of the fantastic female attorneys at Edwards Kirby, our blog writer sat down with each of them to learn about their experiences as women in the legal profession and their advice for younger female attorneys entering the profession.
In our first weekly installment, we interviewed Kristen Beightol, an Edwards Kirby attorney who specializes in medical malpractice and catastrophic injuries. Kristen was recently recognized as Business North Carolina magazine’s Legal Elite 2021 overall winner in the Litigation category. She has also been selected again in 2021 to The Best Lawyers in America, named again in 2021 in North Carolina Super Lawyers and acknowledged in 2021 as one of the “10 Best Attorneys” for North Carolina by the American Institute of Personal Injury Attorneys.
What does it mean to you to be a woman in the legal profession?
I am grateful for the opportunity to do a job that I love. As a woman in a field that was previously largely reserved for men, I believe that it is my responsibility to lift up and support good younger women lawyers, so that women can remain a viable part of our profession.
Why is it important for women to be represented in the profession?
I do not want young women today to see the glass ceilings above them that were above the young women who came before them. I want them to know that they can be anything that they want to be in life. When my mother was growing up, she had only a few choices for a career. When I was growing up, I had more. When today’s young women look at their futures, they see far more opportunities than ever before. I want that trend to continue.
How has being a woman shaped your experience in the profession?
In life and in my profession, I want the same opportunities as those with my same experience, skill and work ethic. I have worked very hard to gain the best experience that I can, refine my skill and to put in the hours and good work to prove my worth in my profession. My hope is that, by my doing that, other women who come behind me will have the same opportunities that I have earned through those efforts and, hopefully, even more.
Who were your female mentors or role models when you were beginning in the profession?
I had an amazing female mentor at my very first firm, who remains my mentor in law and in life. The traits in her that I have admired over time are her compassion for clients, commitment to honesty, dedication to coloring inside the lines, love of what we do, and loyalty to me in always being available to counsel me. Because of her, I am a mentor at the Campbell Law Connections Mentorship Program and remain committed to mentoring young women through that program and in other ways in our field.
I respect those women in my profession who advocate versus aggress, do not make differences in position or opinion personal, think before they speak, know how to listen as well as talk, learn from their mistakes, pick their battles, support versus undermine other attorneys, and are honest early and always. I respect most those who do not have to tout their value because their hard work proves it.
What can the legal profession do to attract more women?
To be competitive for women, every profession, legal or otherwise, should provide pay and opportunities based on experience, skill, and hard work versus gender.
What advice do you have for young women interested in a legal career?
Do not call out your gender as different or ask to be treated differently because of your gender in this or any other profession. Do the work. Do the time. Let your good work reflect your value. If you want to be treated like everyone else, do the work to justify it.
What do you do outside of work?
Outside of work, I enjoy long-distance running, travel and true crime podcasts.
If you were not a lawyer, what would you be?
If I were not a lawyer, I would be a political reporter. I have a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and am a news junkie.
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