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Leadership in Law 2014: Shokrina Beering

Managing partner, Plunkett Cooney P.C., Indianapolis • Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, 1986

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15col-Beering.jpg Shokrina Beering (IL Photo/Eric Learned)

Shokrina Beering’s level of commitment to her clients, community and her work within organizations is unsurpassed. She concentrates her practice in commercial real estate, business and finance, and is a founding member of the Indianapolis Chapter of CREW Network, which promotes the advancement of women in the commercial real estate industry. Shokrina has served on the board of The Villages of Indiana, the largest private provider of services to abused and neglected children in the state, for 15 years.

Why are organizations like Indy CREW important for women in their professional development?

Men are members of IndyCREW as well as women. All areas of commercial real estate are included, such as attorneys, brokers, bankers, appraisers, title agents, surveyors, environmental companies, really every discipline needed to do a deal. Organizations like IndyCREW are important for women in the commercial real estate field because women are significantly outnumbered. Men and women network differently, and women need female role models and mentors to help them advance in their careers. Industry groups are sometimes competitive regarding members in the same field; however, IndyCREW is collaborative and supportive.

If you couldn’t be a lawyer, what would you do for a living?

I would be on the executive management team of a dynamic company. I like strategizing, managing growth and mitigating risks to help companies succeed.

What was the worst or most memorable job you had prior to becoming an attorney?

The most memorable job I had prior to becoming an attorney was as an intern with the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office under the leadership of Steve Goldsmith.

What are some tips for achieving a work/life balance?

I tell other working women that they can have it all, just not all at the same time. Whatever you are doing, be it working or spending time with family, concentrate on what you are doing at that time, and when it is time to move to something different, focus on that. Also, don’t be too involved with your children’s homework. When our daughter was in school, we would sit at the kitchen table nightly. She would do her homework, and I would do work. We were together, which was important to me, but each doing what we needed to do.

How has the law in commercial real estate changed since you started practicing?

Commercial real estate is cyclical, and we saw a downturn in the commercial real estate and finance market a few years ago. My practice went from handling a high percentage of origination loan matters to more workouts and receiverships. I am currently seeing an increase in the loan origination work. I’m also forming new companies for clients wanting to start businesses, and assisting clients with expansion plans regarding existing businesses.

What’s something about you not many people know?

My family supports a Christian medical mission in Boquette, Panama started by two retired Zionsville physicians whom we know well. My husband and daughter and I have all been to the mission, my husband and daughter several times. We formed a company to import and sell the coffee grown on the mission, Mission Coffee LLC. The mission is in one of the most highly rated areas for coffee. The proceeds from the sale of the coffee go to support the mission.

What’s been the biggest change in the practice of law you’ve seen?

The biggest change I’ve seen in the practice of law since I began practicing 26 years ago is the competition among firms focused on the reduction of fees. Fees have become a driving force rather than the work to be performed. My large institutional clients are requiring significant volume discounts and often choose counsel based on cost versus expertise. Clients are also for the most part becoming more practical, which favors my style of practice. They are no longer wanting attorneys to write 100-page documents when 50-page documents meet their needs well.

Why do you think people often have negative stereotypes about lawyers?

I think people often have negative stereotypes about lawyers because they see lawyers negatively portrayed on television and in print. They are more often portrayed as underhanded, conniving, arrogant, and greedy, than as helping serve justice and maintain order in society.

Is there a moment in your career you wish you could do over?

There is no moment in my career I wish I could do over. All of the moments helped me become the person I am today. However, I wish I had learned to play golf when I was young. I took lessons for several years when I was in my early 40’s, without success. I found the game extremely frustrating. I believe a lot of business can get done on the golf course.

We hear a lot about civility. Have you noticed a change in how attorneys treat each other since you began practicing?

I have noticed a change in how attorneys treat each other since I began practicing. Overall, attorneys have become more competitive and less collegial. My initial contact with attorneys on some matters often has those attorneys starting in a combative mode which I think is unnecessary. The same result can be reached, often more effectively and efficiently, when counsel are civil.

What civic cause is the most important to you?

Helping Indiana’s abused and neglected children and building healthier families is the civic cause most important to me. I have served on the board of The Villages of Indiana, the largest private provider of services to abused and neglected children in the state, for 15 years. The work this organization does in foster care, special needs adoption, kinship care, healthy families, and to prevent child abuse and neglect is phenomenal.

Why practice in the area of law that you do?

I practice in the areas of commercial real estate, banking and finance, and general business. I practice in these three areas because I like variety, and I like helping businesses grow and succeed. In these areas I am able to focus on achieving client’s goals with win-win outcomes, rather than win-lose, which is often the case in litigation. I am a problem solver and think strategically. Practicing in these three areas allows me to both think “big picture” and also handle the necessary detail-oriented work.

Who is your favorite fictional lawyer?

Claire Huxtable of “The Cosby Show.”

What class do you wish you could have skipped in law school?

There aren’t any that I wish I could have skipped, but there are some I wish I would have taken.

What’s something you’ve learned over the years that you wish you could go back in time and tell your younger self?

Relax and enjoy every day.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

I love chocolate.
 

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  1. Too many attorneys take their position as a license to intimidate and threaten non attorneys in person and by mail. Did find it ironic that a reader moved to comment twice on this article could not complete a paragraph without resorting to insulting name calling (rethuglican) as a substitute for reasoned discussion. Some people will never get the point this action should have made.

  2. People have heard of Magna Carta, and not the Provisions of Oxford & Westminster. Not that anybody really cares. Today, it might be considered ethnic or racial bias to talk about the "Anglo Saxon common law." I don't even see the word English in the blurb above. Anyhow speaking of Edward I-- he was famously intolerant of diversity himself viz the Edict of Expulsion 1290. So all he did too like making parliament a permanent institution-- that all must be discredited. 100 years from now such commemorations will be in the dustbin of history.

  3. Oops, I meant discipline, not disciple. Interesting that those words share such a close relationship. We attorneys are to be disciples of the law, being disciplined to serve the law and its source, the constitutions. Do that, and the goals of Magna Carta are advanced. Do that not and Magna Carta is usurped. Do that not and you should be disciplined. Do that and you should be counted a good disciple. My experiences, once again, do not reveal a process that is adhering to the due process ideals of Magna Carta. Just the opposite, in fact. Braveheart's dying rebel (for a great cause) yell comes to mind.

  4. It is not a sign of the times that many Ind licensed attorneys (I am not) would fear writing what I wrote below, even if they had experiences to back it up. Let's take a minute to thank God for the brave Baron's who risked death by torture to tell the government that it was in the wrong. Today is a career ruination that whistleblowers risk. That is often brought on by denial of licenses or disciple for those who dare speak truth to power. Magna Carta says truth rules power, power too often claims that truth matters not, only Power. Fight such power for the good of our constitutional republics. If we lose them we have only bureaucratic tyranny to pass onto our children. Government attorneys, of all lawyers, should best realize this and work to see our patrimony preserved. I am now a government attorney (once again) in Kansas, and respecting the rule of law is my passion, first and foremost.

  5. I have dealt with more than a few I-465 moat-protected government attorneys and even judges who just cannot seem to wrap their heads around the core of this 800 year old document. I guess monarchial privileges and powers corrupt still ..... from an academic website on this fantastic "treaty" between the King and the people ... "Enduring Principles of Liberty Magna Carta was written by a group of 13th-century barons to protect their rights and property against a tyrannical king. There are two principles expressed in Magna Carta that resonate to this day: "No freeman shall be taken, imprisoned, disseised, outlawed, banished, or in any way destroyed, nor will We proceed against or prosecute him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land." "To no one will We sell, to no one will We deny or delay, right or justice." Inspiration for Americans During the American Revolution, Magna Carta served to inspire and justify action in liberty’s defense. The colonists believed they were entitled to the same rights as Englishmen, rights guaranteed in Magna Carta. They embedded those rights into the laws of their states and later into the Constitution and Bill of Rights. The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution ("no person shall . . . be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.") is a direct descendent of Magna Carta's guarantee of proceedings according to the "law of the land." http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/featured_documents/magna_carta/

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