Lawyer Spotlight: S.L. Owens
How many states or countries have you lived in?
I have lived in two states (Wisconsin and Illinois) and three countries (Egypt, Ethiopia, and South Africa).
What is your favorite drink?
To power myself up for work, my go to drink is a green smoothie.
What is your favorite month?
September is my favorite month when my husband and I celebrate our anniversary. The weather is perfect in the Midwest.
What inspires you?
I am inspired by the many entrepreneurs brave enough to disrupt industry and powerful enough to change the decorum of corporate America.
If you chose a quote to live by, what would it be?
Alan Kay once said, “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” In becoming a first generation college and law graduate, I mastered the art and grit of inventing the future.
What is your greatest accomplishment?
My greatest accomplishment is receiving a Fulbright award to represent America as a researcher abroad in South Africa.
What has been your most embarrassing experience at Q&B?
During my first week as a 1L summer associate, I drafted a letter mistaking our client as the adverse party. Needless to say, I was pretty embarrassed even though it was only a draft to the partner. Luckily for me, I was working on a project for our partner Val Bailey-Rihn, who is an incredible mentor setting an example of women succeeding at the firm. Val used this as a teachable moment for me to confirm that I have a full understanding of the facts. At the start of a complex case or a multiparty deal, I take a moment to understand the parties and issues. More importantly, Val showed the type of care, patience and grace that I want to pay forward in my career.
What experience at Q&B has been the most fun?
Recently, I attended the ABA Forum on Franchising in New Orleans with our powerhouse Franchise & Distribution industry team. I found my tribe in the sense that I really love this area of law, I enjoy the entrepreneurship of our clients, and I am a part of an amazing team.
What advice would you give to a law student?
My advice to law students is to focus on the skills and character that propelled your success thus far; and keep your eyes in your own lane. Don’t follow the crowd. Trust your own judgment.
What is your greatest professional success?
My greatest professional success is being myself at work. I had not realized what a blessing this is until I spoke with other young professionals about having a “work personality” and a “home personality.” I am encouraged to develop my natural personality and strengths, which relieves a ton of my stress as a new lawyer.
What class should you have taken in law school?
I should have taken secured transactions, accounting and other courses on financial instruments. Our clients are sophisticated and every corporate lawyer needs a baseline understanding of financial documents.
Who has given you the best advice about practicing law and what was that advice?
The best advice I received about practicing law was from Judge Patricia Brown Holmes (ret.) of Chicago, who said to me, “take one step at time because leaps cause injury.” I appreciate reminders to enjoy every step of the process, including the injuries.
What makes you laugh?
If you ask my husband, I am the comedian of our family. Being a lawyer is serious business, so I try not to take myself too seriously. For entertainment, I enjoy comedies and satires the most.
What is the best thing about Q&B?
“Great minds do not all think alike.” This was the first quote I saw in our diversity statement when I interviewed with Q&B. I can be successful at this firm in bringing my whole self to work.
What do you do for fun?
While relaxing, I travel, read non-law books, and unplug. As of late, I am obsessed with noir fictions.
What is great about working in Milwaukee?
Milwaukee has all of the perks of an urban space with gorgeous architecture, landscapes and diverse young professionals; yet the city maintains the close-knit culture and community vibe of a small town.