For Random Profiles, we randomly pick one of our 95,000-plus attorneys and do a Q&A. We’ve found that every Texas lawyer has an interesting story. Will yours be next?
Best thing about being a lawyer: Cliché, maybe, but it really is nice to know when you are helping people. Also, I like that there is always something new to learn.
Most important career lesson: Although the big picture is often what drives things, always be detail oriented.
If you could be anyone else for a day, who would it be? I’m sometimes jealous of my cats. When you are a cat, the fatter you are, the more people like you. Also, you get to sleep all day.
Pet peeve: Slow walkers clogging grocery store isles.
Family: Husband Nick, dog Burger, and 4 kitties. We also have a rotating cast of characters living with us. Currently, this includes my sister Whitney, her 2 year old son Teddy, and her dog Tyson. It’s never boring at our house!
Areas of practice: Estate planning, trusts, and probate.
Education: BS in Special Education from Texas A&M (Whoop!), JD from the University of Texas.
Culinary talent: Brownies from a box.
Community Involvement: Through the Junior League of Houston I currently coordinate volunteers for the Children’s Museum of Houston Family Learning Nights (Thursdaystake your kids!) and assist with a program at CMH that gives 4th grade girls the opportunity to stay overnight at the museum. It’s like Night at the Museum in real life.
What’s on your iPod right now? I couldn’t even tell you where my iPod is, but currently featured on my Spotify playlists are artists I’ll see at the Austin City Limits music festival in October.
Who would you want playing you in a movie? There is not much physical resemblance, but I love Mindy Kaling. Maybe Tina Fey? Someone who would make me seem smart and funny, in any event.
Last book you read: Just finished The Goldfinch by Donna Tart and Birds of a Lesser Paradise: Stories by Megan Mayhew Bergman. Both excellent.
Favorite saying/quote: "Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better" –Maya Angelou.
Favorite TV program: Oh, I have so many. Netflix is hitting it out of the park with House of Cards and Orange is the New Black. I’m anxious to see how the last season of Mad Men ties everything up, and I’m already in withdrawal even though as of this writing there is one episode to go for this season of Game of Thrones. In lighter fare, I love Parks & Rec and the Mindy Project.
The last movie I saw: Pitch Perfect. It’s the movie I throw on when I want to half watch TV and half do something else around the house. This means I watch around a fourth of the movie at least once a week.
Favorite food: Category? Dessert. Item? Probably French fries. (Spell check is making me capitalize the "F" in French. I’ve always idly wondered if that was the rule).
Favorite restaurant: Places that serve comfort food that are close to home: Glass Wall, Zelko Bistro, Downhouse, and Max’s Wine Dive, to name a few.
Favorite sport: A&M Football.
Hobbies: Reading, dancing, staying up-to-date on celebrity gossip, and other generally frivolous things.
If I had more time, I would: Travel more, to far flung places, for extended periods of time.
Bet you didn’t know: The State Bar has a blog.
Another little known fact: The State Bar blog routinely features randomly selected attorneys.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing attorneys today? I think one tough issue for attorneys today is: "how much time to spend sharpening the axe versus cutting the wood." (Quote attribution to a partner at my firm and one of my mentors-Mickey Davis). As an attorney you do need to spend time honing your knowledge in your subject area, perfecting your forms, attending CLE events, contributing to CLE events, client development, and managing your practice, but you have to balance that with actually getting the work done.
If you weren’t an attorney, what profession do you think you would be in? I’d love to do something creative (in a different kind of way), like interior design, teaching music lessons, or acting as a docent for a museum. It should be noted that I would probably be terrible at any of those things.
What has changed the most technologically or practice wise since you have been licensed? Because I practice in the area of estate planning, one of the most notable things has been the way that federal estate tax laws have changed in the time I’ve been practicing. There have been several years when we’ve been on the edge of our seats at year-end waiting for Congress to act. The "permanent" high estate tax exemption, combined with higher income tax rates, has resulted in new considerations and has changed the way that I (and I think we, as a community) think about estate planning.
How do you think the practice will change in the next 15 years? I think rapidly evolving technology is going to be the thing that continues to change the practice of law. I can’t even imagine how we’ll be communicating with our clients in 15 years, or doing legal research, or attending hearings. I guess we’ll find out, though!
Arielle works at Davis & Willms, PLLC in Houston
You can also view Arielle’s TexasBar.com profile.
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