Our Lawyer Spotlight series highlights Illinois lawyers who are demonstrating the ideals of professionalism in their daily lives. These attorneys are teaching us how to adapt and thrive in the changing legal environment.
Ivy Lee is an attorney at Hlustik, Huizenga, Williams & Vander Woude Ltd. (HHWV) in Chicago, where she serves as outside general counsel to a variety of small and mid-size businesses. As a generalist, Ivy is experienced in various fields of law, including negotiating commercial transactions, drafting contracts, participating in merger & acquisition transactions and due diligence, advising on intellectual property strategies, reviewing insurance policies, responding to regulatory inquiries, and closing on real estate transactions.
She is also vice president internal and president-elect of the Chinese American Bar Association of Greater Chicago.
How is HHWV adapting to the changing work environment?
Given that we are a small firm and most employees have their own offices, all employees returned to work in the office in early June. It is our office policy that everyone must wear a mask and maintain social distance, and we’ve developed sanitization protocols for high touchpoints. Currently, we are not permitting guests or visitors in our office, and will likely not change that policy until it is safer to do so.
What challenges are general counsels facing in navigating COVID-19?
All of our clients’ businesses experienced changes because of COVID-19, so as their outside general counsel, we’ve become brainstorming partners for safe operational measures. Outside of operations, most transactions that involve financing are taking longer due to the uncertainties of the greater economy as lenders conduct more in-depth risk assessments. I’m also seeing many pandemic-specific procurement contracts, as manufacturers of in-demand items take the opportunity to demand more favorable terms and pricing. Therefore, part of the new challenge is to manage panic and emotions to ensure full assessments of the risks and rewards of these decisions.
How do you maintain civility in your practice during stressful situations?
I am a strong believer in the golden rule of treating others how I’d want to be treated. In most situations, I find that understanding the reasoning behind an opposing counsel’s requests and explaining the reasoning behind my client’s requests are conducive to finding a solution that works for all parties.
What long-term impacts will COVID-19 have on the legal profession?
COVID-19 is having a big impact on bar associations. Since I’m the current vice president internal and president-elect of the Chinese American Bar Association of Greater Chicago, I have found it challenging to continuously engage our members in a virtual world. It is a continued concern of mine as we try to be a resource for lawyers to connect with on a personal basis so our members know that they are not alone in many of the professional issues they face. While I can see webinars continuing post-COVID because of convenience, I hope that we will be able to return to in-person happy hours, networking events, and community service projects in the near future.
How are you maintaining your work-life balance during the pandemic?
Since I am going to the office daily, my daily routine has not changed significantly due to the pandemic. What has changed is a bigger awareness that my actions affect the people I come into contact with, so I try to be vigilant about social distancing, hand washing, and mask-wearing to protect my family and co-workers.
Our Lawyer Spotlight recognizes attorneys throughout Illinois who are admired for their professionalism and civility. Check out more interviews with attorneys like Ivy Lee here.