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Ep. 12: Cait Clarke, Chief of Defender Services, Asks for More

Cait Clarke is the Chief of Defender Services in the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, dedicating her life's work to the 6th Amendment right to counsel. Cait wrote "Dare to Ask! The Woman's Guidebook to Successful Negotiating," and in this episode Cait shares her own experience asking for more. Cait also talks about her bold career move -- leaving a highly sought-after post as a law professor to pursue her mission and challenge herself -- and the the pivotal role volunteerism has played in her work and life.


  • Always ask for more; not just salary but extras.
  • Don't think of it as negotiating; it’s just a collaborative conversation.
  • Incorporate volunteering into your normal life and make it fun.  You will find that it will help guide you in your career as well.
  • Ask people to be your mentor; do it in writing or in person and say the word “mentor” - being specific is important.
  • Engage in self-care; exercise, yoga and smiling.

What you will learn:

  • Cait Clarke is Chief of Defender Services at the administrative offices of the US courts.
  • She upholds the Criminal Justice Act and the right to counsel, overseeing the organizations that represent accused persons in federal court throughout the country.  The job requires Cait to draw lines between supporting people and having to say no.
  • Cait and her husband own a shelter for women and children who are victims of domestic violence and volunteer with their children.
  • She graduated from business school and worked in a soup kitchen after her day-job in marketing.
  • Cait moved into law after a year in marketing and has spent 28 years working in criminal justice and public defense.
  • Cait wrote a book on negotiating for women called Dare To Ask!
  • This was inspired from having to negotiate pay when starting her job at the Kennedy School.
  • Women need to reframe the idea of negotiating into a conversation.
  • Negotiating as a conversation means it's not win or lose, and it’s something you can step away from.
  • Sometimes your greatest accomplishments are also your greatest lows and challenges.


"Women are great negotiators and we don’t know it."

"You have to get the right people in the right seats and trust them"