Jessica Liss decided she wanted to be a lawyer in college, when she realized that lawyers could be effective problem-solvers and have a positive impact on businesses and families.
She put those problem-solving skills to use after earning her law degree from Saint Louis University in 1999 and working as a public defender for the city of St. Louis.
She later developed a specialty in employment law and in December 2011, Jackson Lewis hired Liss to guide the opening of its St. Louis office. Liss is now the office managing shareholder and litigation manager. In addition to representing her own clients, she oversees the St. Louis office’s employment litigation. The firm specializes in representing employers in workplace-related law.
“I do this every day and I firmly believe in making employers better,” Liss said. “Employers want to be empowered to make the right decisions when it matters and I am honored to help them get to that point.”
Liss takes the role as leader seriously, with the understanding that it involves more than assigning tasks to workers. Leadership also involves developing a team where members feel comfortable speaking openly and challenging each other while working toward a common goal, she said.
“Every good leader reaps the rewards of being surrounded by happy employees who want to work hard and succeed,” she said. “I adamantly believe you have to adopt an attitude of gratitude and thank your team for a job well done, pass along credit to others and publicly praise those who have achieved a common goal.”
In addition to being a leader in her law firm, Liss has taken the lead at becoming an expert in employment law related to transgender employees. She became interested in the topic when she was speaking at a conference for employers in the food-service industry.
Her talk was on LGBT-related updates to employment law. She was inundated with questions from human resource professionals on how to address legal issues that crop up when a worker transitions from one gender to another. So, she researched the subject and has become an expert resource for both employers and the media.
“It is such an interesting subject because it is new and emerging,” Liss said. “It is rare that a legal issue like that becomes part of the social dialogue, and I have been advising large employers as well as public entities on accommodating transgender employees in the workplace and addressing transgender individuals in public settings.”