Kimberly Leach Johnson featured in article "Women in Business Q&A: Kimberly Leach Johnson, Firm Chair, Quarles & Brady"
Following is an excerpt:
Kimberly Leach Johnson presides over the firm's executive committee and is Firm Chair of Quarles & Brady. As an attorney, she has been practicing trusts & estates law for more than 30 years. She built her practice from the ground up by building personal and professional relationships across Southern Florida until she accumulated not only an impressive client base but a network of referral sources. Kimberly's clients include individuals and institutions alike. Her command of the tax code, coupled with her comprehensive knowledge of both the laws and the personal considerations that affect the transfer of wealth, make her a reliable source of advice and legal representation for high-net-worth persons and families, including those owning private companies.
How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
We are all a product of our circumstances; this, however, does not mean we are victims of--or can't change--our circumstances. My mother raised me to be very involved, very present in the present--to give everything I could every day, to not let others limit my life, and to always strive for excellence. She must have told me at least 100 times to go out and make a difference in the world. Besides her cookies, my mother pushing me to make an impact on the world around me is my biggest takeaway from my childhood.
How has your previous employment experience aided your position at Quarles & Brady?
I worked for a number of years at a much smaller firm, where I learned the business side of the law--the importance of timely billing, making sure the time descriptions accurately reflected the value to the client, and tackling the more unpleasant tasks, like collecting your receivables. For a number of years, I served as the managing partner of that firm and learned pretty early in my tenure to confront issues head-on with various attorneys. Many of the finance skills I used when I served Quarles & Brady as the Finance Chair were learned at the smaller firm. At a larger firm, you don't count on the daily revenue from one attorney to pay the bills. "Out of sight and out of mind," as the saying goes, and it becomes convenient to believe the responsibility to bill and collect to keep things running belongs to others, so long as you get your own in before the proverbial stroke of midnight at year's end, just before the carriage becomes a pumpkin. Given my past experience, I was able to change the culture, so that many more partners at Quarles & Brady bill and collect on a regular basis. In fact, that is very much my role as Firm Chair; I serve as captain of the ship, guiding a 500-attorney firm so that it is in the best position to help our clients succeed.