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Ingrid Palermo

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Local attorney finds success while working part-time

 

  Written by Arlene Hisiger



herRochester.com, April 17, 2013 


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“Nine to five, what a way to make a living; barely getting by, it’s all taking and no giving.
They just use your mind, and you never get the credit; it’s enough to drive you crazy, if you let it.”
 

- Nine to Five, Dolly Parton

 

Ingrid Palermo
In 2009, attorney Ingrid C. Palermo, who specializes in business restructuring, creditor’s rights and bankruptcy, entered a work environment diametrically opposed to the misogynistic one portrayed in the 1980 movie Nine to Five. 

“Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC (BSK) is an amazing place to be,” says Palermo, 42. “Everyone is completely supportive of one another and their families.”

One need not go far to find evidence of Palermo’s positive assessment of BSK and of its Linden Oaks branch office, in particular. Along with an impressive collection of art displayed on the office walls is a collection of priceless work – framed art created by the staff’s children.

While most firms refer to attorneys who have reached a particular level of achievement as “partners,” BSK, in a subtler expression of the firm’s commitment to fostering a family vibe, prefers to call them “members.”

Unique to the firm is "The Woman’s Initiative" with a goal to promote professional development through an internal mentoring program, and to provide further opportunities for growth through the firm’s support of programs for local business women. 

But company culture is only half the story. Recently, Palermo, who hails from Grand Junction, Colo. and currently resides in Penfield, was made a member of the firm – one of 12 from a firm-wide 42 female attorneys. Of this achievement, Palermo says, “I am excited to have a seat at the table where I know my vote counts across the entire firm and will help influence our future.”

This notable career milestone came while she is among the 27 percent of women employed nationwide who work part-time. She is also the mother of three school-age children.

“At BSK, I’ve worked on all the big cases," she added. "I never was excluded because I wasn’t here full-time.” (As a part-time attorney, she is responsible for 1,250 billable hours a year, compared to 1,850 hours for a full-time attorney.)

 

The road to becoming a BSK member was filled with hard work and dedication to her profession. In Palermo’s estimation, “dedication and the ability to be excited by an intellectual challenge” are characteristics vital to a successful career in law. While a law student at the Western New England University, she was one of the top two percent of students privileged to conduct law review. Assigned bankruptcy as her topic, Palermo taught herself the sphere of law that was later to become her specialty.

Early on, when she was the only woman in the room other than the court reporter, Palermo learned the importance of not being intimidated by the “old guard.”

“You have something valuable to say, stand up and say it,” she said. “If you have chosen a career to be an advocate for a client; you need to be able to speak up.”

But advocacy is a two-way street. From the start, Palermo made two things clear: her desire to become a BSK member and to be there for her children. “A lot of firms don’t realize the need to be flexible to keep good talent. Don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself, for what works best for you in terms of compensation, work schedule, or maternity leave,” she advises.

In addition to being a frequent speaker on both bankruptcy and foreclosure issues she is involved in her community, including serving on Penfield’s St. Joseph School Board and as chair of its finance committee.

As to life/work balance, Palermo and her attorney husband have determined that dinner time is sacrosanct – a time to share the events of the day with their children. They also use every opportunity to enjoy activities with their kids.

When her seven-year old daughter recently asked what she did for a living, Palermo responded that she helped people. Somewhat puzzled, her daughter asked: “But why do they want to talk to you? You’re my mommy!”

“That’s great,” Palermo smilingly says, “because she sees me as being there for her.”

 

BSK staff weighs in

Other female staffers at Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC, shared their insights via email.



On characteristics essential to success in the legal field:


“Working hard, leading by example, having a positive attitude and even sharing your struggles are

 

 important characteristics into gaining the trust of those that you manage.”

 

 - Julie Roth, Regional Office Manager


On work/life balance:


"I still don’t feel like I have achieved work/life balance – does anyone? I can say that I have never been so


 comfortable and supported in trying to give my all to my career and my family as I have at this time in my


 life. And that is due, in part, from being at a unique law firm where all of my efforts as an individual are


valued…”

 

 - Nicole M. Marro, Senior Counsel

On BSK’s Women’s Initiative:
 

 

“Every legal environment I have worked in has been heavily dominated by male attorneys. In such

 

 environments, it can be difficult to find mentors who are attuned to the specific challenges faced by

 

 women balancing professional and family endeavors. Programs such as the Women’s Initiative help

 

women in earlier stages of their careers see what is possible and how to achieve their career goals.”

 

 - Laurie Coles, Associate



On work/life balance:
 


“Work/life balance means something different for everyone. For me, it means scheduling daily time for

 

my family and myself and treating it just like I would any other work meeting – meaning I try and avoid

 

canceling and/or being late.”

 

 - Cressida A. Dixon, Member

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
Contact Arlene at 585-442-6108 or arlene@wordtailor.net
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