It’s not all about a big firm and on-campus interviews. — When I was in law school, large firms interviewed top-candidates with high grade point averages only. Because I didn’t fit the bill, no interviews for me. After 6 months of practice, a large firm recruited me based on performance. Years later, I am a party of one. There is no correlation between success and firm size.
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 Anne Weintraub
Anne owns ALW Consults LLC and is based in Sarasota, Florida. She assists clients in assembling their legal teams, strategizing and resolving their legal and non-legal issues. She is a graduate of Stetson University College of Law where she sat on its Board of Overseers.
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?
During the course of representing clients in real estate, there was a ton of ‘cross-over’ into other practice areas. I enjoyed working with clients and my peers to resolve issues in probate, family, corporate, tax, litigation, bankruptcy and pretty much any area that popped up in my orbit. Eventually, people starting calling me with their facts and wanted to know my thoughts. I provided contacts-usually other attorneys-and strategies. Finally, I thought it was time to make it a career focus.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your law career?
A certain bank would not cooperate when I represented an elderly couple in their short sale. They just didn’t get it. I advised I was flying in to meet in person. They knew I wasn’t kidding. The short sale was approved. My client baked me cupcakes and sang to me. It was a beautiful and meaningful memory.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I’m working with the defenseless. I do pro-bono with my peers for veterans, children, elderly, homeless, sick, and anyone unable to fight for themselves. We’ve done some nice work during the Pandemic.
What are some of the most interesting cases you have been involved in? Without sharing anything confidential can you share any stories?
I’ve worked a lot with people who have transformed from darkness to sunshine. They came to see me at the absolute worst times in their lives. They were financially destroyed. I’ve been able to see them overcome adversity and comeback stronger, healthier and more prosperous than ever.
Which people in history inspire you the most? Why?
The little guy who stood up when it wasn’t popular and the people who stood by them. I think it takes a lot of guts to step up to ‘Goliath’ and do what’s right and not popular. To be the person who stands by those people. It shows character. Strength. Courage. Ethics. Morals.
What advice would you give to a young person considering a career in law?
Do it for the right reasons. Do it because you want to. Not because mom and dad want you to. Not because you are good at arguing. Do it because you are a zealous advocate who wants to learn. A legal education is an investment of your time and financial resources. It is not easy. You must be mentally ready.
If you had the ability to make three reforms in our judicial/legal system, which three would you start with? Why?
1) Increase funding to legal aid organizations for staff. These organizations need more attorneys on staff in addition to attorney volunteers. Alternatively, funding to retain attorneys on behalf of legal aid clients. There are too many clients and not enough available attorneys who are willing to work for free.
2) Increase mental health resources for bar members. The need is great. Every human needs more mental health support. Members of the bar can’t have enough. Too many stressors and access to therapy shouldn’t be an issue.
3) Graduating students who choose to pursue careers as attorneys in public service should get a break in student loans. They aren’t paid enough and need incentives.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Every day. Either legally or in a non-legal capacity. My commitment to pro-bono service and philanthropy is never-ending.
I know this is not an easy job. What drives you?
Impact. When you see what you’ve changed or more importantly, who-it’s all worth it.
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. It’s not all about a big firm and on-campus interviews.
When I was in law school, large firms interviewed top-candidates with high grade point averages only. Because I didn’t fit the bill, no interviews for me. After 6 months of practice, a large firm recruited me based on performance. Years later, I am a party of one. There is no correlation between success and firm size.
2. When you join a firm, know what you’re getting paid. Stay away from subjective bonuses.
Be sure to have an employment contract or partnership agreement that states your salary and bonus. Don’t leave it up to others. Otherwise, you may be unpleasantly surprised at the year-end meeting with no recourse.
3. Don’t worry about what you don’t know.
You’ll learn. There’s a bunch of seasoned attorneys who still don’t know. That’s why they call it practice. Don’t be afraid to say ‘I don’t know’ instead of yes or no. It’s okay.
4. Not everyone likes attorneys.
People have been burned by attorneys before. They will meet you and have a preconceived idea of who you are before you open your mouth. You didn’t cause it and you can’t cure it. Keep going.
5. You will see things differently than others.
It’s unavoidable. You will. Restaurants. Gas stations. Schools. Conversations. Your friends. A legal mind works differently. You are trained to think analytically. You think of things in advance. See the accident before it happens. It’s a gift and a curse.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. 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? He or she might see this. 🙂
Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Every reason why. She’s RBG!