When people show you who they are, believe them: Every single client I’ve regretted taking on, at some point showed me red flags that I should have acted on proactively.
As a part of my series about “5 things I wish someone told me when I first became an attorney” I had the pleasure of interviewing Rachel Brenke.
Rachel Brenke is a female founder earning 7-figures while building a real business and real life. As a business consultant, intellectual property attorney, disabled Army veteran’s wife, mother to five, rescuer of puppy dogs, and founder of multiple brands, she is not your average entrepreneur. Rachel’s digital brands have gained more than 3.5 million dollars in revenue — serving 18,891 entrepreneurs in over 50 countries. When she’s not building her own success (and helping female entrepreneurs do the same), she can be found competing with Team USA, traveling with her family and breaking out of escape rooms.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit more. What is the “backstory” that brought you to this particular career path in Law?
Growing up as a military kid, I initially wanted to be an Air Force pilot. My father served for 24 years. The initial plan was, I would go to college, then pursue a commissioning with the Air Force. After majoring in criminology and criminal justice, and really developing an interest in business, I decided to get my MBA then go to law school.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your law career?
The Intellectual Property law life kind of chose me. I married an active-duty soldier and right before graduating law school, I gave birth to our third child. At this point we had been stationed in Texas and my husband made the decision to get out of the Army after 10 years. Financially and logistically, it didn’t make sense for me to work outside the home with three kids — as many working women can relate to. It was at that time that I learned business owners didn’t understand trademark and copyright, and at the end of the day that’s all you have is your brand. You can always change out products, you can always change out services, but your brand reputation and value are what’s most important. That’s how I started focusing specifically on working with entrepreneurs.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? *
In May of 2018, our family dog, Archer, who we had for more than five years, was stabbed to death in the front of our home. I am lobbying for legislation to protect household pets as animals and not as property. They are currently treated as property, equivalent to something like your MacBook.
What are some of the most interesting cases you have been involved in? Without sharing anything confidential can you share any stories? *
The theme of all of my cases is David versus Goliath. I represent small business owners who are being taken advantage of by corporate giants that should know better, but who can afford to act in whatever way they want to. I work to even the playing field for those who have lesser resources.
Which people in history inspire you the most? Why? *
Robin Williams. His comedic talent was admirable and despite his tragic death, I felt his journey was inspiring and impactful to many.
What advice would you give to a young person considering a career in law? *
The advice I would give to a young person considering a career in law is to go into it because you want to do good — not for fame, fortune or forced to fit into the “society norms” of having a professional career.
If you had the ability to make three reforms in our judicial/legal system, which three would you start with? Why? *
I believe federal sentencing should not be able to take into account facts from other cases, especially ones in which someone has already been acquitted.
As mentioned earlier, after my own personal experience with losing a part of my family to violence, I would like to see reform in how household pets are treated. Specifically, they should be valued in our court system as more than an inanimate computer or iPhone.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? *
I work pro bono hours through worldwide conference presentations and 1:1 work. I am also passionate about supporting the local domestic violence shelter for women.
I know this is not an easy job. What drives you? *
I am really focused on building a real business so I can live a real life. The concept is at the core of everything I do. After being diagnosed with throat cancer at the age of 20, I learned quickly that I didn’t want to work my life away for someone else. Previously, I worked corporate jobs, including an esteemed position at the United States Attorney General’s office, and I was burning the candle at both ends. By crafting a career strategically and working smarter, I can have a fulfilling personal life and successful professional career.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or an example for each. *
1. When people show you who they are, believe them: Every single client I’ve regretted taking on, at some point showed me red flags that I should have acted on proactively.
2. Always put your family before business: I have five school-aged children and when the pandemic hit, we had to switch to virtual learning. I recognized that my family was becoming restless; the kids were having meltdowns about doing school through Zoom and we really needed a reset. So, we hit the road for a month to explore the beaches of North Carolina and Disney in Florida. We still kept up with school and work requirements, but we did it on our terms.
3. Make sure your self-care is not just physical but also mental and emotional.
4. Create a brand that is authentically you; one that no one else can replace or duplicate because it exudes you.
5. Be you in all things. Don’t give up yourself for anyone or anything: I fired a large publishing house the night before my book was to be delivered to target for sale because I was railroaded into edits that weren’t me.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? *
My top three choices are unfortunately all deceased: RBG, Steve Jobs, and Robin Williams. But I would love to have a private brunch with George W. Bush, complete with mimosas.