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January 23, 2024 Did You Know?

When I Was a New Lawyer

Loren Podwill

What inspired you to become a lawyer? And what did you do prior to becoming a lawyer?

I was raised in a small resort town in the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York (the locale for Dirty Dancing). Although interested in the law at a young age, I didn’t know any lawyers, and we had few professionals in our family. I worked through college as a waiter at a large hotel where I got to meet and interact with a number of professionals, including lawyers from New York, Philadelphia, and Boston. The more I learned about the profession the more interested I became. Over time I became comfortable talking to and interacting with groups of strangers – skills that have served me well as a trial lawyer. From those early experiences, I realized that becoming a lawyer would not only pay the bills but would be a path to an intellectually challenging career in which I believed I could make a difference. Before law school, I worked as a chef and opened up a restaurant in Colorado. I also earned money for law school in sales for an advertising company in Austin, Texas.

How did you become involved with the ABA?

Jim Knoll, a former Bullivant partner who introduced me to fidelity and surety law, encouraged me to join the TIPS Fidelity and Surety Law Committee. Another partner, Dianne Dailey, who later became the first woman chair of TIPS, encouraged me to become further involved with the Section’s leadership.

What is the benefit of a new lawyer becoming active with the ABA?

Engaging with TIPS opens up many opportunities to enrich your career. It provides a gateway to a robust professional and personal network. TIPS also offers an array of educational resources, seminars, and training programs, which are invaluable for staying updated on legal developments and keeping skills sharp. It also offers new attorneys a platform for leadership through its various committees and an opportunity to publish articles and speak at various programs. New lawyers can take on roles that not only elevate their profiles within the legal community but also help in developing leadership, communication skills, and lifelong friendships.

What early career practices led to your success?

I continue to follow the advice I got early in my career: Always timely report to the client the good, the bad, and the ugly of every case. Similarly, no matter how skinny the pancake is, there is always another side—I am always sure to look for it, understand it, and consider it. Finally, always be the most prepared person in the room. You can never be over-prepared.

What early career mistakes did you make, and what did you learn from them?

Saying “yes” to every opportunity presented. Don’t get spread too thin to the point that you don’t shine in everything you agree to do. Personally, at some point, I stopped saying yes to every local board and organization I was asked to join and instead focused my efforts on national organizations including TIPS.

What is your advice for dealing with difficult partners, colleagues, or counsel?

Don’t act in kind by repeating bad behavior. Remain professional and offer alternative solutions to resolve the issue. Compromise on the unimportant while advocating professionally and rationally for what really counts.

What is your advice for a new lawyer seeking to acquire, retain, and nurture client relationships?

Marketing is a marathon and not a sprint. It takes time to develop relationships. Prove your worthiness by your actions and not just words. If you volunteer to write an article or to run a project, do it timely and do it well. People will notice and other opportunities will follow.

What challenges you the most?

Like many attorneys, time is often difficult. I have been blessed in my career to participate in many interesting matters and engaging organizations, and it feels like there are rarely enough hours in the day.

What gives you the most satisfaction?

At this point in my career, helping others succeed. Being asked for advice is an honor, and watching others flourish is a joy.

What are your future ambitions for the next five to ten years?

Let’s focus on the next couple of years. As TIPS Chair, to encourage and engage leadership and members to actively participate in making TIPS the premier legal member organization.

What would you most like to accomplish as TIPS chair?

As TIPS Chair, my primary ambitions are to fortify the bridge between the seasoned practitioners and the emerging leaders within our section and to foster inclusiveness. By establishing mentorship programs and creating platforms for collaboration, we can facilitate knowledge sharing between generations of attorneys. I am excited to harness the collective expertise of our members to contribute meaningfully to the broader legal landscape. By fostering a culture of active engagement and service, we can bolster TIPS’s position as the premier member organization in the legal community.

What themes will you focus on for 2023–2024?

In 2024, the overarching theme will be “TIPS: The Next Generation,” reflecting our collective aspiration to usher in a modern era of legal practice while honoring the foundational principles that got us here. This focus will involve adapting to the evolving market dynamics and ensuring that our members are equipped to navigate the shifting landscape of the legal profession. Embracing inclusion and diversity will be at the heart of our endeavors, as we believe that a multitude of perspectives fosters innovative problem-solving and enriches our professional community. Member wellbeing will also be a focus, and I’m very excited to establish a new task force that will focus on member wellbeing.

What advice/words of wisdom can you offer new lawyers?

  • Be prepared. You can never be too prepared.
  • Follow the rules and treat everyone, including opposing parties and opposing counsel, with respect.
  • Maintain ethical integrity. Your reputation is your greatest asset, so uphold the highest ethical standards in all your work.
  • Seek mentorship by engaging with experienced attorneys who can provide guidance, insight, and constructive feedback.
  • Serve as a mentor to less experienced attorneys and lead by example.
  • Never stop learning. Our field is constantly evolving, so make a habit of continuous learning to stay relevant and effective.
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Loren Podwill

Bullivant Houser

Loren Podwill is President, Bullivant Houser, and TIPS chair for 2023-24.