Since becoming an attorney, my exclusive area of practice is plaintiff’s personal injury litigation. Our firm handles a variety of matters within the personal injury arena, including medical malpractice, transportation negligence, products liability, premises liability and other types of professional negligence. I have been fortunate to work on cases in each of these areas.
How has your practice evolved in the last few years?
My practice has evolved significantly in the last few years. Four years ago when I first became licensed, my practice was limited to a more supportive role, as it typically is for junior lawyers. The bulk of my work consisted of performing legal research, drafting simplistic pleadings and motions and assisting with discovery and trial preparations. Now, instead of handing off assignments, so to speak, to more senior attorneys, I take an active role in the majority of my cases. For instance, I am now in a position to argue motions, take depositions and other discovery, draft complex motions, and manage a case from inception to trial. It’s been a steep learning curve, but I appreciate the challenge and the diversity of the work.
If you could offer one piece of advice for young lawyers, what would it be?
Find a mentor. Even the brightest and most motivated young attorney cannot prosecute a case or anticipate issues the way more seasoned attorneys can. Finding a mentor – someone to go to for questions, ideas and guidance – will help you immensely in your practice. Preferably, your mentor will be someone in your firm with at least 5 years of experience, but a family member, friend or colleague in the same practice area can be enormously valuable, too.
A second piece of advice is to get involved with at least one bar association. Early in my career, I became involved with the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois and it has been a huge asset in terms of my success and fulfillment as a lawyer. Networking within the profession and developing connections with lawyers in- and outside of your area of practice is always a beneficial and enriching experience.
What is the one technological device you could not function without daily?
Without question, my smart phone. I am an email, google doc and calendaring fanatic. Without my phone, I feel completely out of my element!
How has civility made a difference in your practice of law?
Civility is an incredibly important aspect of my practice. I make a point of acting in a civil and respectful manner to colleagues and opponents alike, whether or not it’s reciprocal. As a young attorney, in particular, it is essential to keep civility and professionalism at the forefront. The legal community is a small one and you will develop a reputation based on first impressions and how you treat others.
That being said, it is equally important to project confidence and to stand up for yourself when confronted by more senior attorneys who may not be affording you the respect you deserve. Unfortunately, some practitioners will take advantage of an inexperienced young attorney appearing on the other side and will try to intimidate and discredit you. Others will treat you as equals, and many will be kind enough to mentor and counsel you, even if your interests are not aligned. Although litigation is inherently contentious, the best cases for you and your client are those where you get along with opposing counsel. I strive to strike a balance in my cases – to get along with my opponent and learn from and appreciate the other side’s approach, while always advocating for the best interests of my client.
What do you do for fun?
I absolutely love to cook and bake. I enjoy the process of creating things from scratch, and I really enjoy sharing the end product with friends. I also enjoy blogging. A year and a half ago, I started a blog with a dear friend of mine and fellow attorney, Desiree Moore. The blog is called House of Marbury, and it’s a fashion and style blog for female professionals. Since then, the site has taken off and so has our connection to the project. It’s a fun activity to have in addition to legal practice.
Kathryn L. Conway has been practicing with Power Rogers & Smith since November of 2011. Ms. Conway concentrates her practice in automobile negligence, products liability, bicycle and motorcycle collisions, premises liability and wrongful death. Ms. Conway was selected as a 2014 Illinois Super Lawyers Rising Star. To read her full bio, click here.