Asked about how much the Women of Influence distinction means to her, 2013 honoree Heather Burgess of Olympia-based boutique law firm Phillips Wesch Burgess chuckled a little.
“To be honest, it makes me feel old,” she laughed. “I was like, 'Really?' I kind of feel like I have a lot more to accomplish, so hopefully, I can continue that pathway. Hopefully, it's just a stepping stone along the way.”
Burgess herself may be one to deflect accolades, but what she's accomplished thus far certainly merits the Woman of Influence moniker.
One of the founding partners of fast-growing Phillips Wesch Burgess — which just recently opened an office in Tacoma — she has been an attorney since 1998. She has also served on active duty with the U.S. Army in different capacities from 1991 to 2004, and she still serves as a judge advocate in the Washington Army National Guard. On top of all that, she and husband Todd are also the co-owners of another business, Crossfit 253 in Lakewood.
She says she is most proud of helping start the new firm in 2012, although she acknowledged that, while her own firm is a leader when it comes to women in South Sound law, there is still progress to be made.
“Statistically, unfortunately, although women are a greater proportion of law school graduates than they ever have been, as you move up higher in the ranks of law firms, they tend to drop off for a variety of reasons,” Burgess said. “What's neat about our firm is it's not just me, it's Angela Wesch, so we're majority women-owned, which is somewhat unusual for a law firm doing the type of work we do in real estate and construction. I'd say there's still a long way to go in that regard.”
Still, Burgess added that it's definitely a feather in her cap to see Phillips Wesch Burgess growing so fast under its founding partners' watch.
“It's huge,” Burgess said. “It's actually hard to understand and appreciate how quickly we've grown. It's mind-blowing, actually. We're really fortunate and really blessed and working really hard to make it successful. There's no reason that the legal community in Washington should be centered on Seattle alone.”
Congratulations, Heather, for being honored at this year's event, which will be held Wednesday, Oct. 2 at the McGavick Center at Clover Park Technical College. For tickets and other information about Women of Influence 2013, hit this link.