Before Anna Rutigliano decided to go to law school, she already had an impressive health care career, which flows seamlessly into her practice. Rutigliano’s experience uniquely qualifies her for the complex medical and mass tort litigation that constitutes her practice. But she also leads by example when it comes to pro bono work, assisting vulnerable individuals in immigration and special needs cases, among others.
How does your experience as a nurse inform your legal practice?
As a product liability litigator, I draw on my nursing background almost every day in my practice. I spend a lot of time reading medical records, researching scientific literature and talking to fact and expert witnesses who are involved in health care. My nursing background also taught me how to think about issues critically. This is important when I evaluate cases and identify important themes for trial.
What motivated you to pursue a legal career?
During nursing school, I became more interested in the health care system on a large-scale level rather than at the bedside in a clinical setting. I wanted to learn more about the social and economic effects of health care. One of my nursing professors was a nurse and a lawyer, and he encouraged me to consider law school. He became a very important mentor as he helped me navigate the process of pursuing a legal career.
Your pro bono record is remarkable. How do you find the time?
I really enjoy pro bono work. It is often difficult to find the time to give back to the community as a practicing attorney. Pro bono work is a good way to do that by using my legal skill set to help others. I also find pro bono projects to be very rewarding. They often involve unique and difficult issues, and they present great practical opportunities for young attorneys like myself.
Who is someone who inspired or mentored you, and what did you learn from them?
My nursing professor inspired me to go to law school and to practice at Faegre Baker Daniels. He has been a huge influence in encouraging me to pursue a legal career and getting me to where I am today. I also work with several amazing female trial lawyers who inspire me every day. They have taught me how to break down barriers, practice with confidence and treat others with respect.
What are the most beneficial aspects of your active involvement with bar groups?
I am a member of the Leadership Development Academy with the Indiana State Bar Association along with several other attorneys from across the state. That experience has allowed me to learn more about the legal community in Indiana. In the academy, our class has met with various individuals in our Legislature, judiciary and other attorneys throughout Indiana. We have also spent time in other communities outside Indianapolis and have learned about the challenges facing those communities. The experience in the academy has been very fun and informative.
If you could change one law, what would that be?
I would restore voting rights to felons across the country. Voting is an important right that should not be denied to any citizen.
What do you most enjoy doing outside the office?
When I am not in the office, I enjoy practicing yoga and spending time with my family and friends. I also enjoy playing with my two miniature dachshunds.
Where do you see your legal career 10 years from now?
Ten years from now I hope to be in the same practice but at a more advanced level. I would like to continue taking on more responsibility as a trial lawyer and eventually take the lead on some of our trials.
What would you be doing if you had not become an attorney?
If I had not become an attorney, I would probably be working as an emergency or critical care nurse at a hospital.
What’s something about you not many people know?
I was named after a village in Italy called Anacapri (my name is Anna Capri). I visited Anacapri a few years ago and it was an amazing trip; I would highly recommend it to anyone.
What’s your advice to a younger person who’s thinking about a legal career?
My advice is always to go for it. Being a lawyer has been an extremely rewarding, challenging and exciting experience. The practice of law is so broad and diverse and there is something for everyone, regardless of their interests. I would also advise that person to get the most out of their pre-law school experience; work interesting jobs, take interesting classes and spend time traveling. All of those experiences will inform their legal career in the future.
What’s been the most rewarding aspect of your practice?
The most rewarding aspect of my practice has been to work with a lot of really interesting people. I am fortunate to work with a lot of great colleagues every day who I trust and enjoy being around. I also work with a lot of great clients. Whether it is a pro bono client who is trying to navigate the immigration system, or a large client who is trying to defend their product, I find it rewarding to help clients navigate difficult legal issues.•