Riley Quinn was determined to live life on her own terms. Born in the 1950’s, she came of age at a time when higher education and career choices for women were limited. Societal norms still encouraged women to be mothers and homemakers or join the labor pool in “support roles” for men and society. Without independent careers or hobbies, many women in the suburbs defined their successes based on the successes of their spouse or children. In 1971, there were still many functions and clubs where women were excluded.
Quinn had no intentions of following tradition, and went on after college to finish law school. She entered the workforce with guns blazing, demanding to be paid the same as her male counterparts. In this brave and witty memoir, she recounts the struggles of raising a family while practicing law full-time at prestigious firms. As life got more chaotic and challenging, she discovered Paddle, a sport that became a constant joy in her life and the one thing she wouldn’t forego, no matter what obstacles and crises she faced at home or work.
Reflecting on her choices over the years, Quinn shares the wisdom gleaned from managing the demands of marriage, raising five children, and running several successful businesses. “Having it all” is possible, but maybe not all at once. We must look inward, understand our strengths and play to them, and use our gifts and talents in order to evolve. We all suffer tragedies in life, and at times we all fall down. The key is having the grit to pick ourselves up and resolve to forge ahead.
Riley Quinn graduated summa cum laude from a large public high school. She then matriculated to Gannon College where she received a BS in social work and graduated summa cum laude with numerous awards. Quinn worked as a social work researcher for three years and gave birth to two girls before joining the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. There she published a note in the Journal of Law and Commerce, and during her second year was accepted onto the Law Review as a staff editor. Upon graduation, Quinn accepted a position at the largest law firm in Pittsburgh. She practiced in “Big Law” for eight years, but after giving birth to her fourth child (the third child having died shortly after birth), she found the work/life balance impossible to achieve. Quinn then formed her first of three law firms, along with three small real estate development companies, where she successfully balanced her work life with her home life. She was able to give birth to her fifth child while she managed the ongoing demands of being both a mother and a lawyer. At the end of her career, Quinn became a licensed title agent and folded her law practice into a midsize downtown law firm.
Realizing the importance of growing her community for the benefit of her family and others, Quinn always made time to give back to her community while balancing her hectic life. Her children were often in tow with her during these endeavors, so they too understand the value of giving back to our communities.
Quinn is proud to report that each one of her four children is well-adjusted and happy as well as a successful, educated, and compassionate contributor to society.Learn More
Paddle This is a “must read” for women navigating the waters of work-life balance. The author tells a deeply honest and compelling story about an extraordinarily successful attorney born in the 1950s who “works hard and plays hard.” Reading about Riley’s personal and professional challenges and triumphs is highly entertaining, but more importantly, the reader gleans important takeaways. As Riley’s career evolves, she increasingly recognizes the importance of women helping other women to advance gender equity in the workplace and offers strategies for making this happen. She affirms the notion that women have collective power when they work together and advocate both for themselves and others. Riley discovers through her health challenges that taking care of one’s mind and body through diet, exercise, giving an accepting love, and engaging in activities that ignite joy and passion (in Riley’s case Paddle tennis) greatly increases life satisfaction and happiness. While everyone’s life journey is different, every reader will find some aspect of this book that speaks to them in a deeply personal way.
—Patti Rosenthal, MSW, Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Associate Dean, School of Social Work, University of Missouri-St. Louis
Quinn takes us on a thrilling journey through athletics and life - there is something for everyone in this relatable collection of experiences. Whether inspired, humored, or called to action, through this book we see how the positive power of sport can change lives.
—A.A., Personal Trainer & Running Coach
Paddle This is unfiltered, pure, real, and empowering. Quinn’s courage is inspirational as she tells her stories with an unapologetic nature that humanizes her experiences and makes them relatable in one way or another. We all have our own version of paddle tennis in our lives and her personal and professional journeys which are tactfully woven throughout the book, pull at your heartstrings as well as make you smile, cheer, and laugh.
—Joe Nickel, Professor & Entrepreneur