Laura Bunten Jenkins has worked hard to balance a thoughtful career with a meaningful home life. As a lawyer and a mom, she serves as senior legal counsel at global biopharmaceutical company UCB while simultaneously prioritizing her family.
After graduating from Vanderbilt University, Bunten worked on the Hill in Washington, DC, and supported a Texas senator and a Texas congressman on policy issues. “I was a legislative assistant in a policy advisor role in a congressional office,” she says. “That’s part of the reason I went to law school: everyone successful around me had a law degree, and I decided I wanted to create more opportunities for myself.” She attended the University of Texas School of Law, and then started at Jones Day, working in the Atlanta office for four years doing healthcare investigations and litigations.
Deciding she wanted more balance in her life, she made the jump to UCB in 2018, and her son was born soon after that. In the past five years, she’s moved up the ranks from legal counsel to senior legal counsel supporting the immunology patient value unit. She’s also worked in the in-house litigation and investigation team.
Day to day at work, she takes part in meetings to provide legal guidance on global strategy, campaign concepts, and other various projects. “It’s a combination of meetings and more classic legal review,” Bunten says. “But it’s always different.” She is part of a group of five attorneys—three in the US and two globally—that handle the immunology product work for UCB legal. Their team advises on advertising and promotional material, legal engagements, patient services, and more, with her scope encompassing two of UCB’s marketed products, as well as pipeline products.
Over her time at UCB, Bunten has learned about the cross-cultural differences across regions and countries. “Being able to appreciate those differences is key to delivering counsel in a meaningful way,” she says. “I think that’s one area in which I’ve had to learn and grow. You’re a much more effective partner and legal counselor when you take into account the culture and the norms of the place you’re advising, not just the laws.”
While the laws themselves clearly differ by country, UCB legal works transversally, intentionally aligning on how it addresses and mitigates risk across the board, she explains. That sense of global strategy allows for more agility across borders, she notes.
Additionally, UCB is the kind of company that gives a purpose and a meaning to what people do, she says. “Patients on our treatments will sometimes share stories of recovery and healing,” she says. “It’s really powerful to see you’re a part of a company that’s created these products.”
Bunten adds that she counts many of her colleagues as friends and mentors. “They’ve taught me a lot about being an attorney and a good mom,” she says. “I love the people I work with and what’s most exciting for me is working so seamlessly with the legal team. It’s been a really enriching experience to have some of my closest friends at UCB invested in each other both professionally and personally.”
Her boss has set an example of how to make room for both family and work, she says, and shown her how to protect family time while also recognizing when the schedule should to be switched, if possible, for an important event or meeting.
That’s been helpful as Bunten has spent the past several years mapping her own path. It’s been about learning to juggle responsibilities and focus on the things that go right, she says.
“It doesn’t look the same for everyone; it’s a very personal equation,” she explains. “I’ve had to look at where I am, and what I’ve found most helpful is to honor the different seasons of life instead of trying to achieve a perfect balance every day or week. There are seasons where my kids need me more, and then another season comes along where there’s an opportunity at work that I want to lean into, and I ask my spouse for more help with the kids.”
She hopes that being a working mom sets an example for her daughter, allowing her to see how rewarding the integration of different elements of one’s life can be. “After my daughter was born, I realized that I had to find contentment and happiness within myself and the way I split my time so I could show her a better model,” she says. “I’m hoping that model sets my kids up to achieve more balance, and be more confident in how they tackle work and personal time without guilt.”
Patterson Belknap is proud to represent UCB, a global biopharmaceutical leader. We value our partnership with UCB, and congratulate our friend and colleague Laura Bunten Jenkins on this well-deserved recognition. Partner Rachel Sherman notes that “Laura is incredibly smart and is a true leader. She is a pleasure to partner with on any matter.” Patterson Belknap is a firm of two hundred lawyers, delivering a full range of services centered around three areas: litigation and disputes, corporate and transactions, and the legal needs of tax-exempt organizations and private clients.