In this episode of The Geek in Review, hosts Marlene Gebauer and Greg Lambert interview M.C. Sungaila, an appellate attorney and the host of The Portia Project podcast. The podcast is geared towards highlighting women in traditional and non-traditional legal careers and is set to celebrate its 100th episode during Women’s History Month in March. M.C. Sungaila initially intended to highlight women appellate judges and justices in a book, but quickly realized that a podcast would be the best medium to capture the stories of these women. The podcast now includes women leaders across the industry and beyond, providing a career touchstone for law students and showcasing where women are leading inside and outside the legal profession.
The Portia Project podcast explores a range of courts, including state, federal, and magistrate courts, as well as the process of becoming a judge, and was a finalist for the California Legal Award for Innovation in Diversity and Inclusion. M.C. talks about partnerships with organizations like Girls Inc. to amplify their work. The podcast eventually expanded beyond the judiciary to include legal tech founders, legal design innovators, and others who are making an impact in the legal world. M.C. Sungaila encourages law students to explore these new career paths.
There is a common thread among the guests in that there is no straight path to success, and everyone has unique experiences and skills that lead to their success. M.C. emphasizes the importance of recognizing that success can be different for everyone, and there are many paths to success. She plans to continue focusing on women judges, especially appellate judges, and to include more unique journeys and different approaches to legal practice in the podcast. Additionally, she hopes to branch out beyond the legal industry to bring in guests from other disciplines to provide new thoughts and ideas for women in the law.
M.C. Sungaila discusses the disproportionate share (in a good way) of women on the Supreme Court benches in Michigan and Washington and the desire to diversify the courts in those states. She also talks about the lightning round questions she asks her guests and how it helps her get to know them as people. M.C. shares her optimism for the future of women in the legal industry and the importance of being people centered. We ask MC about her motto, which she attributes to her mother’s notes to her throughout her career, such as “make this the best day ever” and “paint your canvas with your own brush.”
M.C. Sungaila’s Portia Project podcast is an excellent resource for law students and individuals interested in learning about the diverse career paths and approaches to legal practice for women in the legal industry.