General Counsel, JPMorgan Chase
Stacey Friedman has some sage advice for anyone struggling to find the right balance between their work and home life.
“There are a thousand things that will pull on your time that seem urgent, essential and important,” she said. “But you have to decide for yourself what’s precious, and you have to protect it.”
Friedman, who oversees a team of more than 1,900 legal professionals in 29 countries, recalled that earlier in her career she missed her grandmother’s 90 birthday party because she considered herself too busy to attend.
“To be clear, everyone will define what’s precious to them differently — for some people that’s French lessons on a Wednesday, for some it’s having breakfast with your family, for others, like myself, it’s being home Friday evenings with pizza and a movie with my kids,” she said.
Friedman has been JPMorgan Chase’s top lawyer since January 2016. Earlier in her career, she was a partner at the New York law firm Sullivan & Cromwell, where she focused on complex banking and securities litigation, as well as regulatory matters.
Since becoming general counsel at the nation’s largest bank by assets, Friedman has worked to build out the company’s Office of Legal Obligations. That office is working to map out all of JPMorgan Chase’s legal and regulatory obligations globally, and to connect those obligations to internal policies and procedures.
It is a gargantuan job, but the goal is to find better uses of time for employees who have traditionally spent tons of hours digging manually through laws and rules.
Friedman, who is a graduate of Duke University Law School, also puts her legal training to use in her extensive charitable work. She serves on the board of the National Center for Law & Economic Justice, which provides legal representation to people living in poverty.
And she worked with the American Civil Liberties Union in a successful court challenge to a state law that prohibited unmarried couples from becoming adoptive or foster parents.
When asked to identify the most important quality for a leader, Friedman gave a counterintuitive answer. “Humility,” she said. “The moment you think you know it all, you’re sunk.”