IN DEPTH: WOMEN OF DISTINCTIONMcCausland took ‘back road’ to law careerNow, the Blank Rome partner wants to do more for pro bonoSometimes, a successful career is cultivated by choosing a very untraditional path. But the unfamiliar road can lead to exciting and enriching places. Margaret “Peggy” McCausland’s experience and accomplishments demonstrate how a change in plans can make a major impact in someone’s career.”My life’s accomplishments were actually flipped upside down — and I worked on everything in reverse,” she said. “It’s definitely unusual, but I’m very happy with way things have turned out.”Her early plans to be a mother and wife with a secretarial job slowly transformed into something completely different: a successful career in law with a lengthy roster of accomplishments.She married her high school sweetheart, Paul, right after graduation, and they had two children. McCausland didn’t even think about a career — much less one in law — until a few years later, when she began attending college in the evening at age 27. With her husband’s encouragement and a lot of dedication, she graduated from law school when she was 36.Now, McCausland is a partner at Blank Rome Comisky & McCauley LLP. She practices labor and employment law and works with clients in a variety of industries in all aspects of management labor law and employment litigation, in both state and federal court and before government agencies.With a high regard for employment training, McCausland is a frequent lecturer, author and panelist on labor and employment issues. She regularly conducts supervisory training classes for clients and routinely counsels corporations on employment issues.The training sessions mark a high point for her. “I love training, and I take a practical approach to it. Whether I’m conducting a class on sexual harassment or employee retention, I find that the attendees retain more when I provide real-life examples. Sometimes, it’s more fun than being in front of a jury. Juries can’t ask questions.”Liz Dow, president of Leadership Inc., has known McCausland for several years. She said: “Peggy is truly an extraordinary person who has made some courageous choices in her life and career. She is totally committed to helping other people advance in life. She’s inspiring, passionate, and it’s clear that her humanity is close to the surface.”McCausland believes that businesses have made great strides in the area of sexual harassment, but supervisors still need to realize the important role they play in ensuring that employees are not experiencing negative situations.”We’ve really come a long way, but employers must continue to educate their employees on this important topic,” she said.From her experience, McCausland believes one particular area where employers can improve is treating employees with fairness and providing them with information. “Often, out of kindness, employers procrastinate giving an employee negative feedback. Instead, they simply fire the person without giving them a chance to enhance their performance. This eventually hurts the employee and lowers morale within the company. Employees appreciate honesty and being treated with dignity.”Since 1995, McCausland has been involved in a great deal of pro bono work and has volunteered for several agencies including Robin’s Nest, a children’s social-services agency in Glassboro, N.J., where she serves on the board. She also represents abused and neglected children as a volunteer lawyer through the Support Center for Child Advocates. Additionally, she is a member of the board of directors for the Montgomery County/Delaware County chapter of the Million Mom March.McCausland feels strongly about her volunteer work with children. “We need to take care of the children who are neglected. It’s so important that kids are not left on their own. If they are not nurtured, they will not grow up to contribute to society.”McCausland also believes it is important to include younger attorneys in her training sessions and offer assistance as they progress in their career. Her advice to young up-and-comers: “If you are interested in pro bono work, begin right away, and don’t wait for your practice to slow down. If you wait, something will always fill the gap, but if you build it into your career, you will always have time for it. It’s the most satisfying part of my career.”McCausland would love to change the world’s perceptions of lawyers. “I know many wonderful, good people who are lawyers and do pro bono work on a regular basis,” she said. “I believe it is our responsibility as lawyers to make sure we behave in a civil way to each other all the time and enhance our image.”McCausland earned her law degree from Villanova Law School, from which she graduated cum laude in 1987.