|Partner, Jones Walker law firm|
Hometown: New Orleans
Before you became a lawyer, you were an investment banker. What made you want to shift to the legal side of finance?
I wanted to be able to execute the transaction, as well as understand the business rationale for it.
How do you keep calm and focused when handling large-scale acquisitions and mergers? Any tips for those of us who get stressed out by smaller-scale projects?
Remember the saying, "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time." It helps to have the background and experience, and great teams of clients and colleagues to work with. I also try to remember to have a sense of humor.
Lawyers are not known for being well-liked or appreciated, but you've been recognized as one of the best lawyers in America in your field. How does that feel?
It's very gratifying to have your clients appreciate your contributions and consider you part of their team. Being trusted by your clients to help them work through difficult issues and transactions is the best part of practicing law.
You worked in New York City, what draws you to Baton Rouge?
My husband, son and I evacuated to Baton Rouge after Hurricane Katrina destroyed our home and neighborhood in New Orleans, and we liked living here. When my husband was offered a position as professor of chemistry at LSU, we decided to make Baton Rouge our home. I'd practiced from my firm's New Orleans office for 18 years, but we have about 50 lawyers in Baton Rouge, so we have a strong presence here. I've also lived in Washington, D.C., Chicago, Austin and Boston. Baton Rouge has a lot to offer – great neighborhoods and people, great park system (BREC), Shaw Center, LASM, Capital Park Museum, to name a few. When I want to visit NYC, I get on an airplane and go there -- Baton Rouge is a much more livable city.
Because I enjoy working with my clients and helping them have successful business ventures. I also like the fact that I can practice law and have a family. My job allows me to make a positive contribution to the community, and it is constantly changing and therefore challenging.
What is your greatest professional accomplishment?
The time I defeated a hostile takeover attempt of a public company by one of its competitors, by representing management and putting together a "white knight" counteroffer. It was technically complex, and very intense. We won – and saved a lot of jobs.
What was your first job?
Besides babysitting, it was as a cashier at a clothing store at a mall, during high school. It definitely helped me see the value of getting an education.
What is the best advice you've ever received?
Get a good education that allows you to enjoy and appreciate life, and prepares you to do something you like doing, because you're going to be doing it a lot! (Mom & Dad)
If you could have any job other than your own, what would it be?
What is the greatest personal or professional obstacle you've overcome?
When I first applied for investment banking jobs in New York City during my senior year in college, I was told that I was "too polite." I guess they thought a woman from the South wouldn't be tough enough.
If you started over, what would you do differently?
Remember more of my grandfather's stories.
What is your prescription for life?
One of my best friends died of breast cancer a few years ago, and it taught me to remember to embrace the moment, and not always be looking ahead.
What book are you currently reading?
The Big Rich – The Rise and Fall of the Greatest Texas Oil Fortunes, by Bryan Burrough.
If you could have dinner with any three living people, who would they be?
Indra Nooyi (CEO PepsiCo), Michael Lewis (author), Jeff Bezos (founder, CEO Amazon.com)
Who would play you in a movie?
Angelina Jolie. Just kidding. Emma Thompson.
What do you do to unwind?
Pizza/movie night Friday nights with my husband and son; Zumba
What is the most expensive purchase you've made for yourself?
Besides our house and cars, a painting by Saliha Staib, a French painter who lives in Baton Rouge.
What is your favorite weekend activity?
Doing anything with my 10-year old son, like archery, tennis, Ping-Pong, hiking, traveling, watching a movie.
What's your favorite spot in Baton Rouge?
How do you take your coffee/tea?
Shot of skim milk.
What is your favorite movie? TV show? Band?
My two favorite movies are The Terminator and Enchanted April. I rarely watch TV, but my sister got me hooked on Downton Abbey for a while. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, and the Charmaine Neville Band.
What is your favorite gadget?
What is something that you can't live without?
If you could change one thing about Baton Rouge, what would it be?
I would solve the crime problem.
What is your greatest hope for Baton Rouge?
That it continues to grow and diversify economically.
What is your greatest fear for Baton Rouge?
That crime and lack of sufficient excellent public education for children drive people away.
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