WOMAN, MOTHER, DRIVEN LAWYER
Picture this scenario with me. A church nursery on a Sunday morning. Teenage girl patiently helping entertain toddlers as they play with their blocks. However, one particular toddler continues to throw himself to the ground in a full-on tantrum. Despite all efforts, he cannot be consoled. Two adult women off to the side whispering to each other as they point to the tantrum throwing toddler, “well, you know his mom works.”
First off, it is astonishing the impact a simple, thoughtless statement has as we set up our belief systems in life. Amy took me through her story of being a driven lawyer and her journey to this point. Additionally, she shared how being the teenage girl in our nursery scene above caused her years of limiting beliefs about being a working mother while still trying to honor her calling.
Since then, however, she has acknowledged the underlying presence of a skewed belief system and continues to work through the infamous mom guilt. Which is one of many reasons she makes a great spotlight for The Mom Huddle.
We’ll come back to the impact of mom guilt on Amy’s journey later, but first I’d like to introduce you to our feature in Woman, Mother, Driven Lawyer – Amy Cornell.
AMY- WOMAN, MOTHER, DRIVEN LAWYER
Without a doubt, Amy epitomizes the phrase, “be the best.”
She is driven, has a huge heart, grit, and most of all is unapologetically authentic. Her journey into law school didn’t come in the form of family lineage. In fact, her roots of “I was the weird farm kid allergic to everything,” makes her incredibly relatable even with all of her educational as well as professional accolades.
Her journey shows all women it is okay to admit you aren’t happy in the place you are and feel empowered to do something about it. In fact, listening to your gut is more often than not the way to go. Second, it’s natural to alter your lifestyle and even your dreams as life circumstances shift. Lastly, acknowledging the suck in a moment, is not only perfectly acceptable, but also healthy!
Enjoy our feature Amy Cornell: Woman, Mother, Driven Lawyer.
Amy grew up on a rural Illinois farm in a loving, Christian home. She attended Purdue University for a degree in management. Next stop, Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law. Eventually, she finished her academic career at the University of Arkansas for a specialized degree in Agricultural Law.
Ag is a fundamental part of who Amy is. In particular, policy and government affairs piqued her interest. In turn, she took on roles with the State Department of Agriculture, adjunct faculty positions at state universities, as well as Policy Advisor and Counsel for Indiana Farm Bureau.
She and her husband, Matt, have always functioned as dual income home. As a lawyer, Amy didn’t know exactly where she wanted to focus her talents, but after a number of years she found her sweet spot. Running a trade association while simultaneously a Vice President at a law firm, Bose McKinney & Evans/Bose Public Affairs.
Admittedly, it is easy to see how Amy connects with her clients. She shows up as herself, is extremely genuine, and has a deep level of care for others. That’s why when she started to feel pulled in more directions than she could mentally handle, it was very difficult to admit.
“I always want to help. There is nothing more fulfilling to me than someone coming to me with a problem and telling me they think I can be the one to help them solve it.”
Matt and Amy waited for a number of years to have children. Then almost seven years ago, they adopted Savannah, the light of their life.
“She is amazing. A little leader in training… a lot like me! She is and will be our only child so is the star of our household. She’s funny, kind, assertive, loves animals and to dance. I’m just extremely grateful for the chance to be a mother.”
Amy describes that they have a role reversal family.
“Matt takes care of so many things for our household that a lot of others would consider likely ‘mom duties.’ He is amazing. He knows how Savannah likes her hot dog cooked, what she eats for breakfast, does his own laundry… to be honest, sometimes it’s hard to admit he does all of this to other women because I get strange looks and feel self-conscious about it.”
Amy’s role with Bose was exciting to her. She not only brought in new clients to the firm and worked on policy with local and state officials, but also traveled the world for conferences, speaking engagements, and events.
Simultaneously, it was hard.
“I put all of this pressure on myself to be the best. Doing more than what was even expected of me, but I felt the pressure of my own expectations. Trying to be everything for everyone. While neglecting myself.”
Amy’s mom suffered a brain aneurism and then a number of surgeries and procedures followed. As a result, her mom is confined to a wheelchair and needs around the clock care. This caused a fundamental shift in Amy over the course of a few years.
“As much as I love my clients, they weren’t going to be there to help me in and out of a wheelchair if something happened to me. That would be my family. The realization sort of smacked me in the face that in a lot of ways I was putting everything else ahead of my family. Trying to be everything to everyone.”
PRIORITY- WOMAN, MOTHER, DRIVEN LAWYER
Her wake-up call really came to a head in the spring of 2021. At her current pace, she was missing out on precious family time she no longer wanted to sustain.
As a result, she made the choice to leave Bose while still continuing her role with the Agribusiness Coucil of Indiana.
“My priorities shifted. Ultimately, I realized I was missing so much with Savannah and Matt. The model was no longer working for me, but I had what I would call the best break-up ever. Bose was nothing but good to me. So supportive and extremely gracious about my decision to leave. Knowing people cared so deeply really helped me work through this shift personally. It’s a special place with a great culture. In particular, I will miss the teammate aspect of it for sure.”
Despite Amy’s humble thoughts on this, I would venture to guess the relationships established had a lot to do with Amy’s genuine personality too!
WOMAN, MOTHER, DRIVEN LAWYER ADVICE TO DAUGHTER
At this point, I was in awe of Amy’s leap from the seemingly glamorous role, not to mention comfort zone, into unknown territory. She is now entirely focused on serving as the President of the Agribusiness Council of Indiana instead of simultaneously trying to juggle being a Vice President at the law firm as well.
“I can’t run around putting out other fires without my own house burning down.”
With this in mind, it felt like not only a great wake up call for Amy personally, but also took great courage to take action and do something about it. I asked what advice she would give to Savannah if she found herself feeling this way in the future.
“Strike the balance. Don’t give up too soon but also understand life is too short to continue feeling so overwhelmed. Only YOU know when you get to that point. Trust in yourself. It is okay if a job isn’t a good fit. But make sure you understand if it’s truly time to make a move or if you are just being big drama (said with a series of giggles!).”
In spite of her excitement for the shift to balance, it hasn’t been ALL easy either. Amy admitted it is difficult to stand by and watch others support her former clients. Those relationships were very strong and special to her. Definitely natural for her to have feelings of loss in this shift.
“I’ve learned you have to be willing to be flexible. There are definitely things I’m going to miss. Traveling for work, certain working relationships, being in the thick of everything going on. Even so, I’m also learning it’s okay to allow one dream to shift if there are bigger priorities. I’m at peace and diving all in with a new adventure. I also now have the bandwidth to do things for the Agribusiness Council of Indiana that were just ideas before, but I didn’t have time to implement.”
Her advice to working moms struggling with balance:
“Your family is the one who is going to be there, so invest the time. Think hard about what you are comfortable with as your own work identity and then communicate. It’s okay to want things for yourself career wise. Communicate that with your family and figure out what works best for all involved. Some seasons are really hard and that is okay.”
SUMMARY- WOMAN, MOTHER, DRIVEN LAWYER
Amy is full of energy, and while her plate is full fulfilling ACI members’ wishes, this time, she comes with the experience of knowing she can strike a balance working for not only her but her family as well.
“I’m still figuring this out. For anyone struggling with balance and feeling the conservative Evangelical mom guilt, I see you. I hear you. The fact you are concerned shows your heart is in the right place.”
Amy learned, over the past six years specifically, life ebbs and flows in career priorities between spouses. Additionally, kids tell you what they need either through word or action.
“Savannah sometimes just comes and sits with me on the couch. She needs me and it feels good. She won’t always want to do that; therefore, I’m soaking up these precious moments.”
Amy’s professional success comes from a career of showing up and being genuine. Her drive right now is showing up and being genuine for her family and the Agribusiness Council of Indiana. From there, sky’s the limit.
“For anyone out there in a tough season, you will make it too. In fact, I’m hugging you through the screen right now.”
Thank you, Amy, for sharing your journey with The Mom Huddle!
Balance is not something you find, it’s something you create.
– Jana Kingsford
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