By Alan Davis, IU McKinney 3L
The IndyBar Law Student Division welcomed four attorneys to Breakfast with the Bar on September 12. Joining the McKinney students were Russell Brown, Clark Quinn Moses Scott & Grahn LLP; Courtney Lynch, Quarles and Brady LLP; Marc Pfleging, Scannell Properties; James Carter, Wooden McLaughlin. Each attorney brought a variety of perspectives to the discussion.
Russell Brown, for example, brought the experience of working in various public sector roles including a stint on the governor’s office staff. He also had previously served as the elected township trustee of Lawrence Township. Brown stressed community involvement and gave examples of how he has maintained involvement by serving on the Board of Directors for the Fort Harrison Reuse Authority since 2012. “Being the only lawyer on a board can reap benefits you weren’t anticipating in the form of referral clients.”
Courtney Lynch concentrates her practice in business law and tax-exempt organizations. Lynch serves as the current chair of the IndyBar’s Real Estate & Land Use Section and also provides a range of real estate legal services, including representation of clients in tax credit and commercial finance matters. When asked about how to drum up business, Lynch advised the law students to remain connected with law school classmates and ask what area they are practicing in. This small act of demonstrating an interest in another’s work could potentially pay dividends in the future. Additionally, it can begin to form relationships within your firm and expose you to different fields of law.
Marc Pfleging brought the experience of working as in-house counsel. Pfleging is primarily responsible for all aspects of real estate development. Prior to working as in-house counsel, he worked for Faegre Baker Daniels LLP in its real estate practice group. Pfleging fielded questions on some of the differences he has experienced between working as in-house and for a law firm. The obvious benefit is not having billable hours but that the work hours are still rigorous especially when divisions of the company and/or clients are located in other times zones. Another major difference being is when you are advising your company in a preferred direction to pursue. "You are actively involved in the delivery and ultimately a decisions success or failure. Sometimes, one has to own that their counsel did not pan out favorably for the business."
James Carter discussed the perspective of working as an associate in a law firm. Carter is a litigator focused on resolving business and real estate disputes, as well as other civil litigation matters. Carter explained that at the beginning of your practice, an attorney may not necessarily have a book of business. To show value, he recommends treating the firm’s partners as if they are your client. “Forming relationships with your partners and doing good work can begin to form the trust relationship in order for your practice to grow.”
Finally, in terms of general practice pointers, all of the attorneys agreed on saying “yes” and accepting opportunities outside of the real estate practice. The attorneys emphasized that many of the tasks that were done outside of real estate has proven beneficial in their practice especially when the real estate market takes a negative turn. You will be well equipped to work in various areas. A final piece of advice from the attorneys was to continue networking and attending events such as the Breakfast with the Bar events. Attending this event allowed law students to speak freely with attorneys in real estate. This atmosphere was conducive in furthering a casual discussion on what a future attorney can expect upon entering the profession. If you’re interested in attending a Breakfast with the Bar event, watch for IndyBar updates for the October and November dates.
If you would like to submit content or write an article for the Real Estate & Land Use Section, please email Kara Sikorski at firstname.lastname@example.org.