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March 20, 2024 Did You Know?

When I Was a New Lawyer

Anna M. Romanskay

Anna Romanskya, a partner at Stark & D’Ambrosio, LLP, in San Diego, California, shares words of advice and wisdom and reminisces about when she was a new lawyer.

Anna Romanskya, a partner at Stark & D’Ambrosio, LLP, in San Diego, California, shares words of advice and wisdom.

Anna Romanskya, a partner at Stark & D’Ambrosio, LLP, in San Diego, California, shares words of advice and wisdom.

Courtesy of Anna Romanskya

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

My inspiration for becoming a lawyer was the ability to advocate and be a resource in my community. Before becoming a lawyer, I was very involved in crisis intervention and victim advocacy, primarily with teens. I worked in a number of crisis hotlines and nonprofit organizations where I helped teens address and work through issues ranging from building healthy relationships to suicide prevention. My motivation for going to law school and into the legal field was having the ability to help by advocating for people to get out of unhealthy relationships and improve their circumstances. That is what drove me to family law, which is the area I focus my practice.

How did you become involved with the ABA?

I became engaged with the ABA in law school as an ABA representative and then subsequently as a Lieutenant Governor in the Law Student Division. I had the opportunity to attend programs targeted for law students during law school sponsored by the ABA, which introduced me to the organization (as more than an accreditation body), and I was hooked. I subsequently remained engaged following graduation in both TIPS and the YLD holding various leadership positions in both entities, including ultimately Chairing the YLD in 2016-2017, joining the House of Delegates, and in 2023, being elected to the TIPS Council.

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

There are so many benefits for new lawyers being active in the ABA, not least of which is the opportunity to connect with fellow young lawyers from across the country and the world! From opportunities to publish in national publications, and to engage in improving the legal profession through advocacy and impacting legislation, to building a network of professional and personal contacts that last a lifetime, there is something for everyone.

What early career practices led to your success?

Early in my career, the practices that led to my success included early engagement in both my local New Lawyers Division of the San Diego County Bar Association and the ABA’s YLD. Through these organizations, I was able to build a network of like-minded colleagues (who ultimately became my friends and trusted advisors), whom I was able (and still continue!) to turn to with questions and support for everything from building my practice to balancing life priorities. My activities in these organizations became my professional and personal outlets and—in a great way—my social life. This has been invaluable to my growth and success in both my professional and personal life.

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

My advice for dealing with difficult partners, colleagues, or counsel is first and foremost—be yourself. Second, be honest with feedback. I have found that professionally confronting the issue tends to resolve, or at least alleviate, the tension, rather than ignoring the issues and hoping they go away. Depending on the source and root of the difficulties, having a conversation about it with the person tends to be the best route. Sometimes the behavior is unintentional; sometimes it is very intentional (with opposing counsel). In either instance, addressing the issues directly generally relieves those issues and allows the relationship to move forward. Often (particularly if the issue is with a partner or colleague), the outcome of such conversations will shape decisions on staying or leaving the environment. Either way, there will be closure and you can move forward.

What challenges you the most?

What challenges me the most is being a good manager. Professionally, I aspire to create an environment where I delegate tasks, communicate expectations effectively, gauge performance based on understood metrics, and foster an environment of support, mentorship, and growth among my team. Personally, I am constantly challenged by not bringing the stress of work home and ensuring that I remain present for my family without distractions. Both challenges are very much a work in progress, with some days being better than others. My greatest challenge overall is giving myself grace when I’m not meeting the expectations I set for myself. I’m grateful for my support system, who helps keep me grounded and reminds me it’s ok not to have all balls in the air at all times.

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Anna M. Romanskay

Stark & D’Ambrosio, LLP

Anna M. Romanskaya is a partner at Stark & D’Ambrosio, LLP, in San Diego, California.