Kimmel came from Rider Bennett, LLP, where women lawyers could succeed, she said. Its managing partner, Pat Burke, was the first woman in that spot in Minneapolis. Many of the firm’s women lawyers became judges.
So it’s only natural that one of her priorities is exposing girls to the law and teaching them there is a place for them. She does that through Girl’s State, the annual gathering of girls from around the state who become part of the governance of their state, be it attorney general, governor, litigators or judges.
Three hundred girls give up a week of their summer to learn about the three branches of government. They are not thinking about themselves and are exposed to other perspectives, Kimmel said.
“This profession doesn’t happen by accident,” Kimmel said. “It takes people to show up who are willing to do something beyond their immediate interests.” Girl’s State is one way to enhance the profession from within and also reach out to the community. “It’s such a privilege to help them,” Kimmel said.
Girl’s State is also a way for participants to learn communication. When you’re an advocate you have to speak so people will listen, Kimmel said. How to present as an effective advocate depends on who your audience is. “How are they coming to the table,” she said.
Kimmel’s approach to litigation is to advocate zealously both for a client’s interests and also to respect the legal process and professionalism. “You can accomplish a client’s goals and still remain true to the legal profession.
“Some lawyers think you should fight for the sake of fighting. That’s rarely in a client’s long-term interest,” Kimmel said. Most clients, even those who believe their lawyer should be a “junkyard dog,” don’t have the wherewithal to fight for every short-term goal, she said. The lawyer provides experience and judgment while retaining rapport and reputation within the profession, she said.