LEADERSHIP IN LAW 2018: Meagan R. Brien

Meagan R. Brien is a go-to lawyer for civil and fiduciary litigation, corporate services and estate planning, but she’s also a leader in the firm’s diversity and inclusion efforts. She also handles pro bono service for the firm and serves the Evansville community by volunteering with a wide range of nonprofit boards.

lil-brien-meagan-2018.jpg (Photo courtesy of Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP)

When did you first decide you would become a lawyer, and what motivated you?

While in college, I was an intern for the Kentucky Senate in Frankfort and the United States Senate in Washington, D.C. I became fascinated with the law by my experiences in each internship and I discovered that practicing law would be the best fit for me to entertain that fascination. I was motivated to pursue a career in the law because I strongly believed, and still do, that a JD could take me anywhere.

Who is someone who inspired or mentored you, and what did you learn from them?

I have been mentored from day one by partner, Reed Schmitt. Reed has taught me every aspect of the practice of law; beyond substance, but also how to be professional, gracious, caring, and a counselor. Very early on he explained to me the “why” and “how” of what we were doing for our clients rather than simply giving orders.

What’s been the most rewarding aspect of your practice?

It is most rewarding that I am able to solve problems for my clients. I enjoy looking at an issue from several different angles and working with my clients toward a resolution. I also enjoy educating my clients about the issues that they are facing. Most rewarding is that I am constantly learning from my clients, my peers, and my colleagues.

What do you find rewarding in promoting diversity and inclusion efforts in your firm?

Most rewarding is being a part of real change that’s come about as a result of the diversity and inclusion efforts in our firm. Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP is committed to creating an inclusive, respectful, and open culture made up of talented individuals of diverse backgrounds, and when you are tasked with working with members of the firm from all walks of life to implement this commitment, you learn about yourself and others and create meaningful connections. Being a part of the team that has created diversity and inclusion scholarships, has implemented policies and procedures to recruit, retain, and develop diverse individuals, and has associated with organization committed to the same, is in and of itself rewarding.

What do you most enjoy doing when you’re not in the office?

I now have a 4-month-old son, so if I’m not in the office, I love being with him, my husband, and our dog, Molly. Our favorite thing to do together is to go for walks, but we are also in for a good nap! Overall, I’m a people person, so spending time with my friends and my family is very important to me. I also enjoy cheering on my favorite sports teams, watching cooking shows, and reading a book; if there’s ever a free moment!

Where do you see yourself in 20 years?

In 20 years, I see myself with a college-aged son, and I hope that I’ve led a career and a life that he can be proud of and learn from. I’m sure that I will have continued to serve the law and my community to the best of my abilities as a partner with my firm.

What’s something about you not many people know?

I’m an open book so this is a tough one for me! I am obsessed with British culture and take in as much of their TV, movies, and books as I can. A guilty pleasure of mine is royal gossip, and my trip to London three years ago was a real highlight for me.

What has been your most memorable case?

After practicing for a couple of years I was involved in a contentious probate administration that really set the stage for my estate planning practice — relaying the months of litigation that could have been avoided with a strong estate plan is generally reason enough to push clients to develop an estate plan that advances their wishes.

What are the volunteer or community service activities that you most enjoy?

Each year the Women Attorneys Section of the Evansville Bar Association gathers supplies to create kits for domestic violence survivors and donates the kits to local women’s shelters. As chair of that event for two years, I was able to meet with the leaders of the shelters and learn firsthand the hope the kits gave to women in need. Also, serving dinner to the families of the Ronald McDonald House or to the patrons of a local food bank, all through the Evansville Bar Association, have been the most enjoyable for me. The common threads among the community service activities I most enjoy are the ability to personally interact those in need and the Evansville Bar Association, which strives to showcase the good that lawyers do in our community.

How do you see the legal profession changing in the next decade?

It’s changed so much in the almost 10 years that I’ve been practicing. I think reliance on technology will continue to increase and make our lives easier but also more connected, if that’s possible. I think that diversity will continue to increase in the legal profession. Some scholars think the billable hour is on its way out, and that would be a real change!

What was your most memorable job before becoming an attorney?

Before starting college I was part of the grounds crew for a golf course in Southern Indiana. Starting at 6 a.m. every morning, I mowed greens and fairways, raked bunkers, landscaped, and did general tasks for the maintenance of the course. I learned how to be part of a team, how to tackle difficult tasks, and the value of hard work.

If you hadn’t pursued a legal career, what would you be doing instead?

I would have been a writer. I love to read, which lends itself well to writing. In my legal career I am afforded the opportunity to write, but of course, not as creatively as I would if I were a writer by trade.•

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