Although we are experiencing unprecedented times, we thought we would take a moment on the last day of Women's History Month and celebrate two of our SGR attorneys, as well as provide you with other reading material that may be a nice distraction and leave you with a smile.

Enjoy and stay safe!

A disruption in life as we know it can create anxiety and a sense of loss. During times of uncertainty, the human spirit can diminish due to social distancing and the unique challenges associated with the new normal. But, for most of us, there is a human bond – an element of humanity – that lies deep within us that spurs a deeper perspective on what’s important and inspires us to find ways to cope. 

To find out the best ways to manage stress, sleep and eat well while you are hunkering down read the entire article. 

Join us as we celebrate two of our attorneys at SGR for Women's History Month. Take a few minutes to learn more about Emily Ward and Jill Bechtold.
Emily Ward • Associate, Litigation • Atlanta

Emily Ward is an Associate in the Litigation Practice of Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP. Emily specializes in white-collar defense and civil litigation including healthcare, business and environmental litigation, as well as administrative and regulatory matters.

Who is a woman in history that inspired you? The Notorious Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She’s tenacious, brilliant, and a game-changer for women lawyers. I so admire her ability to work with and empathize with those she disagrees with philosophically – that kind of professionalism is often lacking and her friendship with the late Justice Scalia, in particular, is an inspiration.

What career advice would you give your younger self? Go take a government job as a public defender or assistant prosecutor for the first couple of years out of school. Yes, the money will be terrible and make it hard to pay back loans, but the experience you’ll get will be worth it in the end.

Did you have a mentor? If so, how did they encourage you in your career? I am fortunate enough to have two! SGR Partners, Tony Cochran and Tom Beaver, have taken it upon themselves to include me in all types of client matters, treat me in private and in front of the clients like I am their equal, and go out of their way to ensure our clients and colleagues hear about my successes big and small. They also have encouraged me to be active in the state and local Bars so that my peers see me as a leader in the legal community. Although these activities take me out of the office – and can decrease the billable hours I get in the short term – they are wise enough to realize the work I do now will return as clients and referrals in the years to come.

If you could make one change to help women at work, what would it be? Ensure that all women, not just partners or even attorneys, have the flexibility we need so that we can accomplish everything we do professionally, personally, and in our communities. Although it’s common to hear of those at the top of their field working something other than 9-5 or somewhere other than their desk, but it’s not as common for those on the lower echelons of professional life. Whether it’s working from home one day a week, working a modified schedule on Tuesdays so you can be the den mom for your kid’s scout troop, or working 8-4 because your commute is just terrible, those types of accommodations can enhance someone’s work life and create happier, more productive, and more loyal employees.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? My husband is the chef/owner of our restaurants, Southern Belle and Georgia Boy, so I help out with a lot of the behind the scenes work whenever I can. I have a business mind and entrepreneurial streak so the whole process is fun. I also love going to both spaces with my friends, family, and colleagues to show it off and do a little “quality control” – those cocktails aren’t going to try themselves!

* Emily Ward pictured above with Sally Yates.
Emily Receives the WWCDA Award
The WWCDA Catherine M. O’Neil Mentoring Award, Sponsored by King & Spalding, was awarded to young lawyers committee member Emily Ward. Emily was recognized for demonstrated excellence, skill, integrity, grit, passion, and tenacity in her legal advocacy on behalf of clients that she has represented and for giving generously of her time and talents to her colleagues and community, particularly through her mentorship of younger lawyers. Emily is a rising star in the white collar defense bar.   
Jill Bechtold • Partner, Litigation Practice • Jacksonville

Jill Bechtold is a Partner in the Litigation Practice of Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP. Jill specializes in the area of civil litigation focusing on medical and professional liability defense, employment disputes, product liability defense, business litigation, trucking litigation and insurance defense.

Why did you choose your practice area? My middle name comes from my great-grandmother, Faye Cashatt Lewis, who was one of the first women to graduate medical school from Washington University in St. Louis. I grew up always loving the art of medicine and learning how the human system worked and reacted. My law practice started by protecting hospitals, doctors, and nurses and now it allows me to continue researching and learning various medical topics while defending our companies in major tort actions.

Who is a woman in history that inspired you? I grew up wanting to be like Amelia Earhart: fearless, brave and adventuring. Ms. Earhart had an early passion and commitment, yet the world told her no. In the end, she died doing what she loved while making a bold statement.

What career advice would you give your younger self? Be easy on yourself. At the beginning of your career, it is easy to focus too much on the negatives: what I should have said at the hearing, why did I write that, how can I get that client to like me more? What I didn’t realize at the time was that those early years were about learning lessons and the real growth comes from making mistakes. Mistakes can be a powerful drive for young women, but sometimes a little grace helps too.

Did you have a mentor? If so, how did they encourage you in your career? I was lucky enough to have several mentors. Some were lawyers but many were not. While the words may have been different from each, the same message came from them all: build on your talents to achieve success. They taught me too many of us try to emulate other successful people. However, your skillset and talents may be vastly different. My mentors understood that an individual using their strengths to the best of their advantage will always be the most successful. My mentors were also the best at just listening to my concerns, a rare trait sometimes in people.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? Doing anything with my children. They are the funniest and most perfect people that I know!
Women in Science

As we are witnessing during the COVID-19 outbreak, women are taking leadership roles in science and medicine to stop the spread of the virus. At the Novavax vaccine lab in Maryland, a team of women scientists is working to develop a vaccine for the new coronavirus. To find out more about how these women scientists are encouraging young girls to become future scientists, read the entire article:

Women's History Month Trivia

We recommend for your reading pleasure and education Time Magazine's special project: 100 Women of the Year which spotlights women who might have been considered for "Person of the Year" honors if the horizons had been expanded beyond "Man of the Year" nomenclature at the time. Many of the women who are part of the multiple choices are highlighted in that special project. Enjoy the read!