Is your career based on considered choices you planned or has it unfolded as part of a process you didn’t necessarily foresee?
Before coming to the College of Law, I practiced commercial and white-collar criminal litigation at Winston & Strawn in Chicago. I selected Winston because I was focused on becoming a litigator, and I was convinced that Winston would provide a terrific opportunity to work with and learn from great litigators. Having no background on the business of law, I did not understand that litigation required extensive marketing, management, and mentoring skills, which I developed on the job. These skills ultimately led me to the College of Law — I could not have foreseen such a move when I graduated from law school.
What do you enjoy most (and, if you’re willing, what are the least enjoyable or hardest parts) about your current role?
I enjoy the ability to “move the dial” for students and alumni, whether it’s developing a new employment opportunity or helping them prepare for interviewing with an employer. In our office, we can see tangible results of our work, in a way that you don’t always see in major civil or criminal litigation matters. In terms of drawbacks, the biggest one is lack of control. As a practicing lawyer, you have more control over the situation — whether it be through aligned interests, the Federal Rules, etc. In my current role, I’m generally trying to create matches between employers and lawyers, and they — not I — are the decisionmakers.
What skills and personality traits lend themselves to success in your field?
Patience. Persistence. Flexibility. Willingness to think outside of the box. Organizational skills. All are helpful in this business.
What advice do you have for someone who hopes to find a job similar to yours/in your field?
Really, it’s the same advice I would give to anyone seeking a job in a particular field. Talk to as many people as you can who do this kind of work. Everyone has a different perspective. Once you talk to several people, and get some different points of view, you’ll have a better sense of whether this kind of work is for you, and what you need in order to be competitive for such a position.
What has been the best surprise in your career?
I can’t say I have been surprised yet!
What might you do differently, in hindsight?
During my legal career, I got involved with many different organizations, and built a substantial number of contacts and relationships. But I didn’t do so deliberately. I did so because I liked doing it. Were I to do it over, I would probably have been more aggressive on this front, and had a more defined strategy. That’s why I am so passionate about making sure law students understand the realities of the legal profession — I would have liked that information myself!
What do you do outside of work that helps you be successful?
I enjoy being involved in leadership positions with all kinds of organizations — it continually helps me develop new perspectives that I find helpful in my work. You never stop learning.