Happy Friday! We’re back with another Coffee Break post to get you to the weekend feeling inspired and motivated, and this time we’re talking to Indiana University Maurer School of Law grad and (our first!) in-house counsel, Andrea Person. For those of you who have been told it’s too “early” to go in-house, we know you’ll love this one.
Tell us a little about yourself: I am 34 and live in Lakeview. I am not originally from Chicago. I grew up in a combination of Indiana, Minnesota, and Ohio. I went to college in DC at American University and worked for three years as a lobbyist in Washington. I have been in Chicago since 2010 and have loved every moment of living in the city. I hope never to move again. I am completely over programmed but would not have it any other way. I volunteer with the Jr. League of Chicago and sit on the management board as Personal VP. I also tutor a girl during the school year with Chicago Lights and am involved with the Chicago Yacht Club both on the water as a racer and in the clubhouse as a member of a few committees.
What is your morning routine? I am an early riser. Most mornings I wake up around 5 am and hit the gym. Depending on the day, I am at Pilates, yoga, Flywheel, or Shred415. I normally shower at the gym, grab a coffee and try to make it to the office by 8 am.
What does your day look like? Favorite part of your day? My day is busy and rarely the same. Morning I am at the gym. At work, it is normally a sprint between meetings, calls, and redlining contracts. I work with my organization’s procurement team so many of the meetings involve understanding the business needs, determining risk, and trying to help the business achieve the outcome it wants. It is interesting, constantly changing, and a good challenge. After work, you can find me volunteering, sailing, or enjoying dinner with friends. It is a rare night that I make it home [for dinner] but when I do, I love to grill on my patio. My favorite part of the day is usually when I spend time with friends.
How do you combat the afternoon slump? I normally take a few minutes in the afternoon to glance at the headlines in the newspaper. I find taking my mind off work for a few minutes usually results in me being more productive for the rest of the day.
Caffeine of choice? Iced Redeye with 2% milk
How do you create “balance” between your work life and your personal life? Balance is something that I think is so important and something I work hard at every day. I am a big planner and I think it helps me organize my life too. I keep a written planner and spend time each Sunday organizing my week and figuring out everything from meals for the week to work, volunteer and social commitments. I also work to set priorities for the year, month, and week. I think constantly thinking about what is the priority helps to balance what is important because it changes.
Accomplishment you are most proud of? How did you get there? I think going in-house generally. I was only in private practice for two years before making the move to my first in-house role. I knew I wanted to go in-house because I thought the mix of law and business was really interesting and wanted a work/life structure with a bit more balance. Many people told me it would be almost impossible to go in-house at such a junior level, but I am so happy I found an opportunity and have run with it. I am at my second in-house role now and find the work to be exactly the fit I had hoped it to be.
Was there an aspect of your career that did not come easy? I graduated from law school in 2010 and the economy was crumbling. The firm I had planned to go to in DC after graduation decided not to take on associates. Instead of cruising toward graduation, I found myself without a job and outside of the recruiting window. I ended up returning to a small firm in Chicago where I had interned at the start of law school. It was not the big law job I thought I would have, but I think I ended up learning a lot much faster than I would have in a big law firm. It was a tough period, but I learned that sometimes the right plan is not the one you make.
Best piece of advice for young lawyers/aspiring lawyers? Be your own advocate. I think it is important to remember to speak up for yourself and figure out what you want out of your career. If you want an opportunity to learn a new practice area – volunteer for a matter and make sure people know you are interested. If you do not know something – try to find ways you can get the training you need. If you need a vacation – take the vacation. Only you know what you want out of your career and professional life so make it happen.
Best stress reliever? Sailing on Lake Michigan.
Favorite organizational tool/office essential? My Emily Ley Simplified Planner. I prefer the weekly version – 18 months. Cannot live without it.
Piece of clothing most worn to the office/professional wardrobe staple? I have a Roberto Coin gold bangle that I adore. It is simple – just three crisscrossed gold bands but I love it and find it works with everything.
If you could have coffee with anyone, who would it be? My paternal great grandparents. I visited the farms where they grew up this summer in Sweden. I would love to hear about what it was like to leave those places and find their way to the United States. I cannot imagine the courage it took.
What are you most excited about right now? Community service and leadership. I volunteer a lot and have recently been trying to decide how I can be more involved in some organizations that I have spent a lot of time volunteering with in the past. I want to become more impactful with the organizations that I care about and hope that some leadership opportunities will pan out in the next few months.
Thanks, Andrea! Head over to LinkedIn to learn more about Andrea, and we’ll see you back here next week.