Washington Lawyer

Legends in the Law: Sara–Ann “Sally” Determan

From Washington Lawyer, November 2007

Interview by Kathryn Alfisi

Sara-Ann Determan. Photo by Patrice Gilbert Sara-Ann “Sally” Determan has spent her three-decades-long legal career (she took retired partner status in 2003) at Hogan & Hartson LLP as a tax and estate planning attorney. She joined the firm in 1968 after graduating from the George Washington University Law School and clerking for Judge Henry W. Edgerton of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Seven years later she became the firm’s first female partner. Determan was involved in the creation of Hogan’s Community Services Department, which led the way for other large law firms to create separate practice groups devoted to pro bono legal work. During her 1990–91 term as D.C. Bar president, Determan created the Public Services Activities Review Committee, whose recommendations led to the current D.C. Bar Pro Bono Program. In addition to her work for the D.C. Bar, Determan was active in the American Bar Association, where she served as a member of the House of Delegates and chaired two standing committees and a section.

Tell me a little about your background. Weren’t you born in Pennsylvania?
I was born 69 years ago in a little town called Palmerton, Pennsylvania, which is about 85 miles northwest of Philadelphia. It was a company town, at least when I was a girl. It was a very interesting town, because even though its population was only about 4,500 people, the company had brought in a lot of folks as laborers from central and eastern Europe. So in my little high school class of 110 we had kids from many different backgrounds. The town was multilingual and had a Ukrainian Catholic church, a Russian Catholic church, a Roman Catholic church, a Greek Catholic church, as well as many Protestant churches. The town was actually written up in Life magazine as having one of the most diverse high schools in the country. At that time to have such diversity was very unusual. Although it’s modest compared to what we have now, at the time, the level of diversity was really quite extraordinary.

What was growing up in such a place like for you?
It’s hard to explain today, when high achievers are so respected, but in the pre-Sputnik era being a “brain” was not socially acceptable. Palmerton was a place where the things that I was good at were not particularly valued, and the things that were valued I wasn’t particularly good at. So while I had wonderful parents, a really nice family life, lots of friends to play with, and lots of freedom, I wasn’t very happy.

Was there a sense that you wanted to get out of your town as soon as you could?
I didn’t know what I was missing until I went to college and found that success was seen as more of a social plus. I had never been looked up to by anybody before. I have very mixed feelings about Palmerton, although I had a wonderful early girlhood.

Do you still have family in that area?
My last aunt, my father’s brother’s wife, died a couple of years ago, so that whole generation is now gone. I have some first cousins that I don’t see who live there. The cousins that I’m close to, ironically, live in the Washington, D.C., area.

Were there any lawyers in your family? Did you know at a young age that you wanted to become a lawyer?
Oh, yes. My father was a lawyer, and he became a judge the year that I graduated from college in 1960. He had one brother who was a patent lawyer with the DuPont Company, and then my mother’s sister married a lawyer. So, my family is full of lawyers.

My father carried in his wallet until it crumbled, a stick drawing I had done in first grade when we were asked to draw pictures of what we wanted to be when we grew up. My picture was of a little stick girl going into a doorway that said “Sally, layer,” because I didn’t know how to spell lawyer. I don’t remember ever not wanting to be a lawyer; I always knew I was going to become one.

Did your father support your career goal?
Yes, although I’ve often wondered if it would have been different if I had had a brother. I have often speculated over the years whether if he’d had a son, would my father have been as encouraging as he was.

Where did you attend college?
First I went to Connecticut College (then called Connecticut College for Women), then I met and married my first husband, Dean Determan, right after my freshman year. He was heading to Stanford Law School, but taking a year off before he started, so I did sophomore year at Stanford. Then he was drafted during the peacetime draft and was sent to Turkey, and I came back and finished at the University of Delaware because I had an aunt and uncle who lived nearby.

When I finished college my husband and I went back to California, but instead of going to Stanford, he decided to go to Cal because it was much cheaper. So he went to law school while I taught, and then we had our first child. I went to law school here at George Washington after I had my first child.

How many years were there between college and law school?
Four years, one for the baby and three to get my husband through law school. You know, it wasn’t until maybe 10 years after graduating from law school that I had enough of a feminist awareness to ask my husband, who I woke in the middle of the night, “Why didn’t we even discuss who was going to go to law school first?” His response was “Well, you could support us. You could be a teacher, what could I have done?”

Our plan was that he’d go to school first and I’d put him through, and then I would go and he would put me through, but we really never discussed the order—the man going first was just the way it was. Similarly, I wanted to stay in California, but he wanted to come back east to Washington, and in those days, although it sounds so weird now, you went where the husband wanted to go. Now, if he wanted to go to a place where he knew I’d be desperately unhappy, we wouldn’t have gone, but I had a slight preference for California, he had a slight preference for Washington, neither of us minded either place, so it was Washington because he was the man.

Did he want to come to Washington because of a job?
Yes, he wanted to do civil rights work for the Kennedy administration. We were part of the generation that thought public service was wonderful and felt called upon by the magic of the new, young president.

What was your life in Washington like when you first arrived?
Well, first of all, I arrived in Washington with a two-week-old baby. At the time there were no fair housing laws and it was really important to us that we live in integrated housing, so we lived in an apartment in Anacostia. When we first moved in it was an area that was largely African American, but there were quite a few white families. However, the apartment complex we lived in had been sold, and over the course of the year, it went from being quite a pleasant place with lots of different types of neighbors to a really scary place with lots of shouting and graffiti. We then moved into a small townhouse development in Virginia, which wasn’t nearly as well integrated.

What was the law school experience like for you?
Did going to law school in D.C. make it any more special? I loved law school. I was so ready to go to law school after spending a year with an infant and fixing my husband’s socks.

I was a political junkie like everyone else, so I think it was more fun to go to law school in Washington.

At that time GW was one of the few law schools that aggressively recruited women, so I was the third woman editor-in-chief (of The George Washington Law Review) in 1967. There were 40 women in a class of 600, including the night school. Now not all 40 graduated, but I didn’t have the kind of experience that some of my friends had where they were the only women in their class.

Wasn’t it difficult to go to school while taking care of a baby at home?
My parents’ wedding gift to me was that they’d pay for any education I wanted, so when I got an all-tuition scholarship, they paid for the babysitter. The reason I went to GW as opposed to Georgetown was that GW was set up for people who wanted to work, so all the classes were finished by 1 o’clock. I could be back with my son Dann by 1:30 or so every day, then he’d go to bed by 8 at night and I’d study. The deal was that my husband would help out; the day I came home and told him that I’d been offered the editor-in-chief spot, but I was going to turn it down because I couldn’t possibly do it and take care of Dann, he said, “You’ve got to do it. I’ll take care of Dann,” and he did.

After graduating you went on to clerk for Judge Henry W. Edgerton of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. What did you bring away from that experience?
Well, Judge Edgerton became very ill during my time clerking with him, so I wound up doing a lot of work for other judges, which was fun, but Edgerton was a magnificent man.

It was an interesting year. I worked with people who were unusually well-educated and brilliant, so while I met some very close friends that I still have and I learned a lot of the workings of the law from the inside, I never felt as smart as the people around me and I wasn’t as smart as many of them. I had long since accepted the reality that there were people in this world that are a hell of a lot smarter than I am, but the egotism of very young people is always hard to take and particularly hard for a person who’d had that extra four years of living and having a child—it all seemed a little bit much.

When did you join Hogan & Hartson? What made you decide that this was the firm you wanted to work at?
For one thing, I had the feeling when I interviewed here that I wouldn’t be a special case. When I interviewed at some of the other leading law firms, I had the feeling that they saw me as an exception because I had a child and I was a woman, but I didn’t have that feeling here. I remember the elation I felt after the interview at Hogan.

So I came here and I felt like one of the guys, although it’s true, you’re never really one of the guys. It wasn’t until there was a critical mass of women here that I realized the pressure of being in that position and knowing that if I had failed, I’d be closing doors for other women.

Finally there were enough women here so that if I failed I would only muck up my own career, but in those early days you had the feeling that you were being seen as a trailblazer for people whom you hadn’t even met—and that’s a very special kind of pressure.

Were you keenly aware of that pressure at the time?
No, it’s more like a headache that’s gone away. If was after we had reached a critical mass of women that I realized that I was relaxing, that I understood how difficult it had been. I’ve talked to other women my same age at other law firms who were coming in at the same time and they had the same experience.

There wasn’t overt sexism; I’m sure that behind closed doors there may have been because no institution was exempt from the times, but I never felt it and I think that’s true of my friends in other law firms. I think that what they felt was this sense that they were particularly looked at, and if they stumbled, it would hurt opportunities for other women—and it would have.

What year did you join the firm? Were there other women associates at the firm when you joined?
I joined the firm in 1968. When I came in September there was a woman here who had been the first woman associate since World War II, but she left to get married the following December.

Did you know other women lawyers?
There were a couple of women who I clerked with that I knew; one of them was Sally Katzen who went to Wilmer Cutler (now known as WilmerHale) and a classmate of mine, Margery Waxman, who went to Covington and Burling LLP. So I did have friends at other law firms, but I also quickly made friends at Hogan.

What about outside of the firm? What did people think of you being a lawyer and a mother?
The interesting thing is—and people of my age will understand this—that when I first came into the practice and would meet stay-at-home moms, the typical comment would be “Well, I wouldn’t let anybody else raise my child.” I would come away from conversations like that wondering if I had made a decision that would hurt my child. After maybe 10 years, by the late 70s, early 80s, it was reversed and I felt like the women my age and older who had chosen to be full-time moms were now feeling very defensive about that choice and that I was seen as a threat. At that point in time, with women rushing into professions, I think that the stay-at-home moms had to justify their existence in ways that when I first started they didn’t. Fortunately, my husband was always very supportive and my children were doing fine.

Our first son was born before I went to law school and we adopted our middle child while I was at Hogan, at which time I arranged for a three-month unpaid leave of absence. By the time I was pregnant with Stevie I asked for something in the nature of maternity leave, and I used to imagine what the meeting of the executive committee must have been like when they tried to discuss whether pregnancy was more like cosmetic surgery or illness. The firm was very good to me, and obviously there was ultimately a policy of general applicability, but it was not something they had thought of before.

In 1975 you became the firm’s first female partner. Did you feel a great deal of accomplishment when that happened?
Well, by the time you’re here that long you have a sense as to whether that’s going to happen or not. This is something that you think you’ve been working for and you think will matter and then when you get to be partner, woman or man, you’re really excited for a while. Then you realize that your life hasn’t changed that much. My husband used to refer to that as my “post partnum” depression.

Who was the next woman partner after you?
Gail Marshall, who’s a very good friend of mine, became a partner three years later.

How much harder do you think it is today for women to manage a law career and family life?
When I started working, the average number of billable hours per associate was 1,450; now that is not even enough for part time. It makes a huge difference. I could be fully mainstreamed and still leave at a quarter of five every day to be home and have dinner with the kids and help with their homework. Sure, sometimes I took a briefcase home, but it was a very different time.

I didn’t feel like it was unfair of me not to work harder because the people who did work harder made more money. It was a trade off I was happy to make. One of the reasons I didn’t accept an offer at another firm is that they had “lockstep” compensation and I knew that wasn’t going to meet my needs. For me it gave me the luxury of being mainstream and not a special case and yet I was still able to enjoy—which I most certainly did—my kids.

I think it’s much harder now. Now there are special arrangements, part-time arrangements, or taking leave and coming back, all things that I think good law firms like this one try to do for their women.

When I was in law school I had a friend who was a Marxist who said, “You may be on the cutting edge, but I assure you that before your career is over there will be as many women lawyers as there are men.” I remember thinking that he was a nut. He said, “We’re in a post-brawn economy and this economy is not going to write off 50 percent of its brain power. This is going to happen, it has to happen.”

I think the profession does recognize that a significant portion of its intellectual firepower is coming from women and that just about the time you’ll be thinking about partnership (eight or nine years out of law school), is also the time when you’re most likely to start having children, so the profession has accommodated to this reality. It’s a tension that no law firm, I think, has met perfectly. I don’t think there is a perfect answer to it. I learned a long time ago that you just never have everything and you have to learn how to be, not just satisfied, but happy with “good enough.”

Don’t you think the legal profession attracts people who wouldn’t be happy with good enough?
It attracts a lot of people who define success narrowly in terms of how quick their progression in the firm is, how much money they make, how many shares they have, those kinds of things. I think that our society has pushed this more onto men than women. I’ve always thought that trading off time to do other things for reduced earnings was an excellent tradeoff. I think our society doesn’t let men make that choice as easily.

Do you think you could raise a child while practicing law today?
I could never do it and not be seen as a special case for having to make special arrangements. But Hogan is a special place; when my youngest son had leukemia, which he eventually died from, without the extraordinary commitment to me from the firm, I would have had to quit. I was very much taken care of; every member of the firm’s executive committee at some point came and said, “Look, come in when you want to. We’ll cover for you, don’t worry about it.” And I felt that with a great deal of integrity I could remain a partner in the firm and still meet the special needs of my child. No place is perfect and I don’t mean to suggest that the experiences here have been as good for everyone as they have been for me, but I don’t know how I could have made it without the firm’s support.

When you were dealing with your son’s illness, how did you manage to stay involved in your professional life?
Well, other people did the work, people just stepped in. Stevie had been sick off and on for about 18 months and I came to the office much of the time he was being treated at NIH. The treatment was such that there were several times that he was going to school and I was coming to work and life was more or less normal. But then he relapsed and needed to have a bone marrow transplant, then only available in Seattle, so I was out in Seattle with him for four months. But when we came back, he was no longer receiving treatment, so for the last 10 months of his life we were fine.

It was only my time in Seattle and the first year of Stevie’s illness that I was out of work a significant amount of time. After he died I took some time off, but Hogan was where my friends were, where my support was; I was eager to be in this place.

Let’s talk about your pro bono contributions. When did you become involved in pro bono work?
I quickly saw that I wanted more than just the commercial practice. Because of a lot of pressure from young lawyers and law students, law firms were trying to figure out how to respond to the demand for pro bono opportunities. Hogan & Hartson created a committee, chaired by Bob Kapp, on which I served, that tried to figure out how to structure a pro bono program. We were the very first firm in the country to have a special pro bono department.

We hired John Ferren, who eventually went on to become Judge Ferren, to come from Harvard where he was teaching. He set up the Community Services Department (CSD). Allen Snyder came here from a Supreme Court clerkship, attracted by the opportunity to be John’s number two guy. And we also attracted David Tatel, who had been with the Lawyers Committee and is now on the Circuit Court here, to join the firm’s Community Services Department. The CSD put Hogan on the national map; it was seen as very ambitious and creative.

I chaired the CSD with David for a period right before Stevie got sick. That was the only time I was a full-time pro bono lawyer and even then there were some ongoing client matters, so I was never able to do pro bono absolutely full time as some of the other CSD lawyers were, but I loved it.

Over the years I’ve done a lot of Bar-related and legal services-related board service and leadership service. Pro bono matters I’ve handled included a large death penalty case that I got involved in when I was chairing a program at the ABA that I had started on death penalty representation. We got the case in 1986, the murders for which our client had been found guilty occurred in 1975, and he’s still alive. He was insane then, he’s insane now, but he probably will ultimately be executed.

Many of the other pro bono matters—because my expertise is in tax and estate planning—involved working with exempt organizations and doing wills, etc. and estate planning for people with AIDS/HIV. I continued to be very involved with the ABA.

Getting back to the CSD, in a “Meet the President” interview with former D.C. Bar President John Keeney Jr., he said he wanted to join Hogan after reading an Esquire article about the program. Do you remember this article?
Yes, of course I do! Robert Redford was on the cover. The program certainly put us on the map, there’s no question about that. I think even the most senior people here would say that the CSD was the beginning of Hogan & Hartson being perceived as something beyond a regional law firm, and now, of course it has offices all over the world and more than 1,000 lawyers.

What effect did the CSD’s creation have on other law firms?
Well, other firms were very interested in what we were doing, but until Holland & Knight LLP adopted the program 10 or maybe 15 years ago, nobody had anything like a whole department dedicated to pro bono. I think it’s been a very successful program in the firm, and it’s also always had a lot of support from management. At our firm, like many other firms, management tends to be made up of very successful commercial lawyers, but I think there’s enormous pride in the CSD and the work it does, and to the best of my knowledge, there’s been no resistance to the idea of having so many lawyers dedicated to pro bono. It’s not seen as a drain; it’s seen as something that is very good for the firm, for the community, and for the firm’s lawyers.

How has the program changed since its inception?
It’s changed in that it’s grown. I think that it now has two rotating associates, two associates working for a fixed period of time for three or four years, and a partner in charge. Our European offices are doing a lot of pro bono work, particularly the Berlin office, and in the States our Denver office does a lot of pro bono work, as does the Baltimore office and the Northern Virginia office. Now the responsibility of the head of the CSD is to coordinate our pro bono opportunities and programs in our other offices as well as here.

Some would describe you as something of a crusader on issues of justice and equality. Do you see yourself this way?
I can’t imagine anything more I’d like to be known as, but when I think of the people who really give back, it’s hard for me to think of myself as important as the word “crusader” suggests, but I have certainly tried.

Who are the people you see as true crusaders?
There are many people. I think of Peter Nichols at Covington who probably spent 20 years trying to make the D.C. prison system work better. I think of my partner Bob Kapp who chaired the CSD and even today is working in pro bono. I think of John Ferren who has always been a public interest lawyer and then went on the bench. I think of David Tatel, who worked for the Lawyers Committee before he came to Hogan. Even though he did go into commercial practice here, it was to desegregate school districts. I think of my friend Brooksley Born, who was the real woman on the cutting edge because she was practicing law four years ahead of the rest of us. Barrett Prettyman, who was the lawyer at Hogan for whom I did my first pro bono case, helping him prepare testimony for a juvenile curfew law in the District in 1968. There are so many—the public interest lawyers, who are just stunning examples of people whose entire careers have been devoted to justice, and they’ve made an enormous difference. I’m just not in their league.

Do you view pro bono work as a lawyer’s responsibility?
I always thought it was such fun, I didn’t think of it as a responsibility. I mean, I was certainly able to make speeches about lawyers’ ethical responsibilities and so forth, but in my personal life I loved doing it. I enjoyed the clients. I enjoyed the commercial clients enormously, too, but I enjoyed the pro bono clients. I enjoyed the people I met doing pro bono work, I enjoyed the friends I made doing ABA and D.C. Bar activities.

It’s true that my emphasis never involved tax law and I never did anything in my areas of commercial expertise. I always saw the nonbillable part of my life—devoted to the delivery of legal services and enhancing the system of justice—as separate and apart and not directly related to my commercial practice. It’s much more fun to be chair of the Individual Rights Section of the ABA than to be chair of the Tax Section!

Is it harder for lawyers today to find the time to become as involved in these activities as you did?
Absolutely, I mean when the average number of billable hours is 1,450, it leaves much more time not only for raising children and for playing tennis, but also for having a well-rounded professional career.

Did you find it harder to become involved in these activities at first because you were a woman?
Actually, the firm encouraged me and I think I had opportunities because I was a woman. It’s really interesting because, looking back, I think we all—Brooksley, Marna Tucker, and other now senior women activists—had opportunities available to us because we were women. I think organizations, particularly progressive legal organizations, were interested in achieving more diversity on their boards and their committees. So, at the same time that we had the pressure that came from knowing that if we stumbled we would be closing doors for other women, we also had professional doors opening to us on the pro bono and public service side, in part because we were women. Now with the critical mass of women in the law, gender is an absolute neutral in terms of opportunities in pro bono and public service organizations.

You served as president of the D.C. Bar in 1990. Why did you decide to run?
My participation in the D.C. Bar had been relatively limited up until that time. I had served on one of the Board of Professional Responsibility’s hearing committees and I did a few things in the old Public Services Activities Corporation (PSAC), but I was bothered by the PSAC, and I thought that we were not doing as well as we should and not involving as many people as we should. I was asked by the Nominations Committee whether I would run, probably in part because they wanted another woman president, but also because by that time I had done an awful lot of work in the ABA and was perceived as someone who could be a legitimate Bar president. I realized that in the position of Bar president I might be able to do something with what I saw as the limitations of the PSAC, and so I agreed to run.

I loved being Bar president. During my term we created the Public Services Activities Review Committee, that was chaired by Steve Pollak, and everything changed. That’s when we started to do the law clinics and when Maureen Syracuse’s pro bono director job was created.

Another thing I was very interested in while I was Bar president was the program for lawyers suffering from alcoholism and drug addiction. I had experience with addiction within my own family, so I was particularly sensitive to that issue. We did a lot of work to highlight the availability of the Bar’s Lawyer Counseling Program (now called the Lawyer Assistance Program) and I was very proud of the increases we saw in the numbers of lawyers taking advantage of it and being helped.

Tell me more about the Public Services Activities Review Committee. Why was there need for a change? The PSAC was tired. This was 1990 and the PSAC had been going on for a while and people had become satisfied with a relatively small program. The personnel were tired and resistant to change, the classical organizational thing. My friend Esther Lardent, who is one of my personal heroes because she’s a woman of extraordinary capacity who has devoted her life to developing pro bono programs, and who now chairs the Pro Bono Institute, agreed to provide an enormous amount of uncompensated consulting. With her help and the Public Services Activities Review Committee’s work, we were able to substantially improve the D.C. Bar’s pro bono activities.

As D.C. Bar president I was also very interested in the problems that arose in the District of Columbia with unrepresented litigants in family law cases. The family court at that time was not set up at all to help pro se litigants, even though there were many of them. The courts knew they had a problem but they saw more representation as the answer to the problem. I, and others, knew that this wasn’t going to happen because there weren’t that many pro bono and legal services lawyers available. We saw that it was urgent that we facilitate the appropriate use of the court system by pro se litigants. The Bar created a committee that worked with the family court judges and the Superior Court to make a much more user-friendly program for pro se litigants in family court, and the Bar took on responsibility for providing education to, and forms for, pro se litigants.

How involved have you been in the Bar since your presidency?
I stayed involved in the ABA for a while and I did some special assignments for the D.C. Bar, but the bulk of my bar activities were pretty much over by 1995. I became interested in working with the Ronald McDonald House and have spent time chairing its board; this interest grew out of my experience with my son Stevie, of course.

I remarried in 1988 to Gary Sellers, who was recently killed in an automobile accident. I’m still very much an unhappy new widow. But I have a full household since my son and daughter-in-law and their two young children, nine months and three years, have moved in for a couple of years. I’ve also been doing a lot of traveling since Gary died.

Were you retired at the time of his death?
Well, I became “of counsel” to the firm in 2003 with the idea that I’d cut way back on my work. But my only billionaire client died and so I had all the responsibility for dealing with his estate, and my plans to be on a much-reduced work schedule just didn’t work out for the next two years. I wasn’t totally full time but I was a lot more full time than I intended to be. But I had a responsibility to this family, with whom I had worked with for years. (This family, by the way, through the Jay and Betty Van Andel Foundation, has just honored me by donating a million dollars to the Ronald McDonald House to create the Stevie Determan wing of the new D.C. House, a wonderful, wonderful gift for which I am deeply grateful.)

I still have a small number of clients who insist on dealing with me, but I really can’t continue an active practice because I no longer want to maintain my expertise by staying on top of developments in the law. I don’t want to retain my expertise because I have other things that I want to do. Gary’s death has essentially postponed the inevitable decision that I have to make about how I want to contribute in the future. I had become active in the church and was going to chair the board of trustees until Gary’s accident, when it became clear that I had no business taking that on. I plan now to work with families whose children are potentially fatally ill.

So you would like to leave the legal world behind?
Well, you never leave it behind; the skills and the communication capacity that you develop as a lawyer are always part of you, but unlike my beloved friend, Bob Kapp, who continues to do pro bono legal work, I really think that I don’t want to do it anymore. I think if I were 10 years younger like my dear friends Allen and Susan Snyder, I’d probably do what they’ve done and adopt a needy child.

He and his wife didn’t plan on doing this; they were emergency foster parents when an infant girl came into their lives. What they’ve done is so wonderful for them and their daughter. I look forward to finding a slightly less-overwhelming way to serve. Life throws you some real curveballs, but for all of the terrible things that have happened with Stevie’s death and now Gary’s, I have been very blessed, no question about it—and I want to give back.

What have been some of the highlights of your legal career?
I am very proud of the changes made to the D.C. Bar’s Pro Bono Program while I was Bar president and I am also very proud of what we did with pro se litigants. I started an ABA program for securing pro bono postconviction representation in capital punishment cases, which is still going on and I’m very proud of that. I’m proud of being a part of the work that the Kapp committee did to create Hogan’s Community Services Department. I’ve been very pleased about the accomplishments of the Women’s Legal Defense Fund, now called the National Partnership for Women and Families; I was one of the early members of that organization. And I’m proud of my firm. It’s just such a decent place with decent people and it does good work and tries very hard to meet the needs of its lawyers to have more balanced lives while at the same time meeting client needs.

Periodically Washington Lawyer features a conversation with a senior member of the District of Columbia Bar reflecting on his or her career as a lawyer. The “Legends in the Law” are selected by the District of Columbia Bar’s Publications Committee on the basis of their prominence in their profession and their individual impact on the law and the legal profession in the District of Columbia. For past interviews, visit www.dcbar.org/legends.