Sejal Brahmbhatt, Partner at Williams Hart & Boundas with over 20 years of experience, recently discussed her journey as a woman in law and shared advice for aspiring women in the field. Brahmbhatt is inspired by her mother, who moved from India to London and later the US, despite facing numerous challenges, such as chronic illness and working multiple jobs. Brahmbhatt was drawn to law because she wanted to help those without a voice and correct injustices. She is most proud of her work in birth defect litigations, representing children whose mothers ingested medication that led to birth defects.
Brahmbhatt advises aspiring women in law to find their voice and actively participate in discussions. She also encourages women to network and seek out women they admire while balancing work with personal hobbies and relationships.
What woman in your life inspires you (inside or outside the practice of law)?
My mother inspires me every single day. My mom had an arranged marriage to my dad at age 20 in India, moved to London a few years later, had two kids (my younger sister and me) while there, was diagnosed with a chronic illness in her early 30s, moved to the US shortly after that, worked two jobs at times to help support our family, and has undergone so many issues with her various illnesses over the years – she still does. Yet through it all, she lives her life with beauty and grace. She is smart, loving, supportive, beautiful, kind, and has a sense of curiosity that I find endearing and much more. She loves and supports me unconditionally. I think I am an empathetic and kind person, and I attribute those qualities to my mother. I am so thankful I still have her after all she has been through. She inspires me to live a full life: to pursue my passions, work hard, and be responsible but also kind and independent. I call her my “living angel.”
What interested you in your field of law?
To put it simply: helping others. My parents never shied away from sharing their journey with my sister and me. It was full of political unrest, multiple immigrations, lack of legal representation, overcoming adversity, and learning new languages and cultures to provide our family with a better life. So from a young age and after hearing my parents’ stories, I always questioned why? Why did this happen to them? Why did they agree to act or provide in a certain way? Why did they tolerate the mistreatment? So from a young age, wanting to help those without a voice or knowing how to correct a wrong resonated with me. The law was a natural choice for me.
What moment in your career are you most proud of?
I have been practicing for over 20 years, so I have many moments I am proud of. But generally speaking, my work in my various birth defect litigations brings me the most pride. I represented children whose mothers unknowingly ingested medications that led to their children being born with a wide range of birth defects. This was of no fault of the mother, let alone the child. Knowing that going against huge pharmaceutical companies in the trial (and winning) allowed my firm to care for these severely injured children for their entire lives brings me great pride.
What advice would you give to aspiring women in law?
Oh…so many nuggets to share! I think it is very important first to ensure you are in the field of law that makes you happy. This profession, especially early on, requires long hours, hard work, and sacrifices you did not even know you had to make. So, doing what you love is important.
As a woman – find your voice and use it. Speak up! Ask for what you want and contribute to the discussions. You will not thrive or shine if you are a passive participant. Share your victories, and talk about what you are working on.
Network. Remember: you are not in a competition with anyone because there is no one else like you. Be authentically you. Seek out women that you admire and incorporate them into your life. And while you are figuring out the type of law you want to practice, learning to listen to that inner voice, being an active participant at your office, cultivating your skill set, etc., try to lead a balanced life.
Don’t let the law consume you. Instead, take time to learn a new hobby, take that class at your favorite gym, and meet up with friends and family. Women are excellent multi-taskers. While I do not think we can do it all at once, we can certainly do it all with balance, a great support system, and a firm that fits you and your needs.
What’s your favorite quote?
“She was not fragile like a flower. She was fragile like a bomb.” – the quote is generally attributed to Frida Kahlo and used to describe my favorite Supreme Court justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg.