June 17, 2014
Nexsen Pruet member (partner) Marguerite Willis was selected to be featured in Law360's prestigious "Female Powerbrokers Q&A" series.
Willis spoke with Law360 to share her tumultuous journey to the top as a female in a masculine-dominated legal world. In it, she talks about gumption, sexism, a purple jumpsuit and "putting her foot down."
Q: How did you break into what many consider to be an old boys’ network?
A: I broke into the “old boys’ network” in 1978 by making one telephone call.
I had just finished a 40-day arbitration for Gulf Oil Corporation relating to an international uranium cartel, where I was the only female lawyer involved. During that proceeding, I had met Gulf’s general counsel. As a young attorney, with more gumption than experience, I figured that if I remembered him, he would remember me. So, I simply called Gulf’s general counsel and said, “I know you have other cases relating to this cartel around the country. Since I have learned the facts, I am interested in representing Gulf in that litigation. I will move anywhere to work for you and your company.”
I later learned that the general counsel, in turn, picked up the telephone and called the managing partner at Howrey and told him to hire me.
Three years later, in 1981, I became the first female partner at Howrey.
Marguerite Willis is co-chair of Nexsen Pruet's antitrust and unfair competition practice, she appears in both federal and state courts. Willis has been involved in some of the firm’s biggest verdicts. She has served as national counsel for a number of cases, including federal and state class actions, and prosecuted major antitrust matters involving a wide range of claims, from unfair trade practices and false advertising to monopolization and vicarious corporate liability.