Kate Mueting is a Partner in the Washington, DC office of Sanford Heisler Sharp. She represents employees with a wide range of employment claims, including discrimination on the basis of gender, pregnancy, race, and disability, and other civil rights claims. Kate is currently representing a class of women with gender discrimination claims against a Big Four accounting firm in Kassman et al. v. KPMG.
Kate joined the WBA three years ago, in the summer of 2014. Since then, she has been an active volunteer, serving first as a co-chair of the Employment Law Forum and currently as a co-chair of the Membership Committee.
The National Law Journal recently named Kate one of Washington, DC’s 40 Rising Stars. She has also been recognized as a leading litigator by numerous publications, including the Washington, DC Super Lawyers Magazine, and eBoss Watch.
Before joining Sanford Heisler Sharp, Kate was an associate at Covington & Burling, LLP. As part of Covington’s Pro Bono rotation program at DC’s Children’s Law Center, she served as lead counsel in several trials representing clients seeking to care for neglected children. Kate clerked for the Honorable Michael J. Melloy on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit and the Honorable Richard J. Leon on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. She also served as a Team Leader for AmeriCorps* National Civilian Community Corps.
Why did you join the Women’s Bar Association?
I had recently been promoted to Senior Litigation Counsel at my firm, and a partner at my firm encouraged me to get more involved in the legal community. I joined the WBA to meet other women lawyers, and I also hoped to get leadership opportunities and public speaking experience. I certainly found all of those opportunities quickly!
How did you get involved? How do you stay involved?
Fairly early in my involvement with the WBA, I coordinated and moderated a panel discussion on Young v. UPS, a pending Supreme Court case on pregnancy discrimination. The WBA was open to having me do this, even though I was not yet in leadership. I was a bit nervous to reach out to the plaintiff Peggy Young’s lawyer about speaking, but after I said I was calling with the WBA she agreed without hesitation.
In my first year as a WBA member, I also took advantage of the WBA’s mentoring program and was paired with Elaine Fitch, a WBA Board member and Managing Partner of Kalijarvi, Chuzi, Newman & Fitch. She continues to be a fantastic mentor to me, and I’ve appreciated having someone outside my law firm who is supportive of my development, as well as someone already connected with the WBA to introduce me to others.
I have continued to coordinate events on labor and employment matters, and this bar year I am active in the Membership Committee. I have very much enjoyed meeting new and prospective WBA members and helping them get more involved with the WBA.
Tell us about your mentor/hero.
In addition to my WBA mentor Elaine Fitch, I have appreciated the guidance of my constitutional law professor Bill Buss. We wrote each other daily as part of my 1L externship in DC and have continued to keep in touch. He encouraged me to pursue a career that is meaningful for me and that advances justice for others.
What words of advice do you have for women new to the profession?
Both judges that I clerked for, Judge Michael Melloy and Judge Richard Leon, taught me the importance of building relationships. Of course it is important to do excellent work on behalf of your clients, but it is also important for lawyers to be active in their communities. Doing so has benefited my career – and made it more enjoyable.