Women Worth Watching 2015
Gail A. Karish
As a Partner at BB&K, Gail Combines Innovative Thinking with Keen Advocacy
Gail Karish has always had an interest in infrastructure and the interplay of public policy goals and private sector activities. She began her legal career in her native Canada, representing a large, government-owned electric utility at environmental and rate tribunals. She then assisted its international division in developing and implementing an international investment strategy focused on privatization opportunities in Latin America in partnership with a privatized utility from Chile. She was instrumental in the consortium’s 1994 acquisition and management of a state-owned Peruvian electric utility.
Shifting her focus to telecommunications in the United States in the late 1990s, she assisted a Chilean telecommunications carrier with its entry into the US market. Under her management of state and federal licensing and regulatory matters, and negotiation of related contracts, the company successfully launched retail telecommunications and Internet services for the US Hispanic market.
“Moving from a large government-owned electric utility in Toronto to a Miami-based startup telecom company was a big career leap,” said Gail. “I changed jobs, industries and countries all at once. Through it, I learned that the most interesting opportunities are those that require you to jump off the deep end.”
“…the most interesting opportunities are those that require you to jump off the deep end.”
She joined Miller & Van Eaton (a Washington D.C. law firm later acquired by Best Best & Krieger LLP) and began representing local governments and municipal utilities throughout the United States. She has been involved with some very innovative projects, such as advising a consortium of North Carolina municipalities in a successful bankruptcy court dispute with cable providers, which resulted in their acquisition of the local cable system. With her colleagues at BB&K, Gail applies innovation to advocacy in leading clients in diverse locations to work together and address common interests through the formation of coalitions to participate in policy and legal debates at the FCC and in court.
Gail is often called on to share her knowledge and experience with telecommunications professionals. Last year, she made more than a half dozen presentations, including appearances before the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors, the International Municipal Lawyers Association, and the State Bar of California.
Education: BCL/LLB, McGill University; LLM, York University; Master of International Service, American University; BA, University of Manitoba
First Job: Plastic bottle factory assembly line worker.
What I’m Reading: “Joni Mitchell: In Her Own Words” by Malka Marom
Words I live by: Make life an adventure.
The most important quality a woman leader should have is…
The career advice I’d give my former self:
Be your best career advocate – do good work but don’t expect your good work will simply speak for Itself.
The one thing I’d do differently in my career, knowing what I know now, is…
…I would have been less tolerant of difficult bosses.
When I really need to focus on a project, I…
…limit looking at emails and answering the phone. They’re both a constant distraction.
My biggest career leap (and what I learned from it) was…
…changing jobs, industries and countries all at once. I moved from a large government-owned electric utility in Toronto to a Miami-based startup telecom company. I learned that the most interesting opportunities are those that require you to jump off the deep end.
Being a woman in my profession has been…
…occasionally, a challenge. But my predecessors were the ones who did the lion’s share of work breaking down barriers.
I’ve learned that failure is…
…more instructive than success.
I maintain a healthy personal life by…
…blocking out time for family or friends that is truly uninterrupted by work.
I knew my present career was what I wanted to do when…
…I took a class in law school on government control and regulation of business. The topic melded my two majors in undergrad — political science and economics — and fueled my interest in the interplay of public policy goals with private sector activities.