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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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