Attorney at Law Magazine sat down with Beth-Ann E. Krimsky of Greenspoon Marder LLP in the 2020 Women in Law special issue to discuss her career and her aspirations.
AALM: What do you find most rewarding about being an attorney?
Krimsky: I find helping people to be the most rewarding part of being an attorney. No matter whether the clients I am representing are major corporations, small businesses or individuals; and no matter what the topic might be, most matters come down to personal relationships. I deal with individuals who generally always want to do the right thing and are just trying to avoid making mistakes. People who have built successful businesses have spent lifetimes doing so and thus helping those people achieve their goals, and then being a part of the story of their dreams and careers, is very rewarding.
AALM: How is your career different today than you envisioned in law school?
Krimsky: I began my career at a large New York law firm working with some incredible attorneys to represent the National Basketball Association in the areas of antitrust relating to television rights, as well as labor matters. In my first year, I was assigned to a major injunction matter that was set for an extensive evidentiary hearing in Chicago. Our team moved to a hotel in Chicago for a month for the purposes of that hearing. That experience helped shape the team approach I have used throughout my career. Every person on that team was important to the success we were seeking to achieve.
My sports law experience served me well once I relocated to Florida when I began representing the owners of major sports franchises in Florida; mostly dealing with business and real estate related matters. My career further developed and evolved into land use and real estate litigation matters as the Florida development market was booming but I always also handled general commercial litigation and fraud cases.
AALM: Did you have any mentors or professors who helped you develop your career?
Krimsky: I have been fortunate to have had many mentors throughout my career. Some of the best lessons they taught me have included making sure you care about your clients and your work just as much, if not more than, your client cares. That is the only way to ensure the creativity needed to solve the problem. Also, it is the only way to fully advocate on behalf of your client. If you don’t believe it yourself, it is difficult to convince someone else to believe it.
AALM: Tell us the funniest story you have from your practice.
Krimsky: After a few years of working with one of the true leaders of Broward County development, I attended a client meeting with him regarding a significant land use dispute. As I walked in the room of all men, he introduced me and proceeded to say, “She is a smart litigator, but we don’t let her wear her skirts too short because her balls would show.” As a younger woman attorney my immediate reaction was fury; but I realized that for him, that was one of the highest compliments he could give me to ease that path into what was at the time (1993) a male dominated land use litigation field. I did not experience an ounce of sexism from my mentor and certainly he did not treat me any differently because of my gender but he saw the room and thought the introduction would help. While it is sad the rest of the room may have needed that affirmation at the time, the part I came to appreciate later was that he truly did not see me as any different from any man in that room other than the fact – I did wear long skirts.
AALM: How do you personally try to help women following in your career path?
Krimsky: I feel that my training and my personal career path has not necessarily been focused on my gender but rather, on taking the time to learn whatever area of law or business I am being asked to address so I can try to become the best expert I can be. That gives me the opportunity to become the teacher and tends to open up many doors. I speak at many diversity conferences regarding the issue of seeking mentors who are both men and women and making sure to keep your eyes open to watch and learn how they handle clients, business development, personal relationships in the office and other matters that are important to help any attorney succeed.
AALM: What traits do you think make an attorney exceptional?
Krimsky: Curiosity, creativity, tenacity and passion are the traits I believe make the difference between a good attorney and an outstanding one. I practice in areas of law that simply did not exist when I was in law school – such as data privacy or addressing many statutory claims related to technologies and businesses that are just being developed. First, rather than shying away from technology I may not know about, or a business area I had never heard of – I jump in because I am curious about new things and once I try to learn it, – because the area is so new, I end up becoming the expert. Second, we litigate and work to apply or change the law in each case by applying creative arguments to convince the Court how the law applies or should be interpreted. I will never tire of that challenge.
AALM: How do you balance your home life and work life?
Krimsky: I prefer to use the word “integrate” your home and work life rather than balancing.
I find that when anyone approaches this topic in terms of balance, it is likely to lead to disappointment or a feeling of failure. I have three sons and an incredible husband of 28 years. They have all always been informed of the public statements about my cases and are so supportive of the limits on my time as they know how passionate I am about my profession and clients. I also integrate my community service with my family and my career. One way we fit it all in is to do something we all believe is important as a family so we can do it together. I served as president of a childhood cancer foundation for over 10 years and everyone in my family was part of it. My husband is the medical research director and our sons have been volunteering at 5K race set ups in the middle of the night, creating websites, hanging up posters and selling raffle tickets since as long as they can remember. This integration is how we can all do what we feel strongly about but still spend time together.
AALM: What accomplishment are you most proud of achieving?
Krimsky: My greatest accomplishment is raising three fine young men as our sons. Whether a parent works outside the home is a personal choice but given societal pressures – it does add a layer of worry. I had less guilt because my mother worked and all four of her children could not have loved her more. One of our sons has decided to become a lawyer and is about to graduate law school. Our other sons each excel in public speaking and communications and that makes me so proud as I know they are all prepared to chart their own courses and speak up for themselves.
My other great accomplishment is learning how to make what has been called a great chicken soup. I always keep extra soup in the freezer for when colleagues, friend and clients are in need or are feeling under the weather. It even got me on a published calendar of unusual business development successes.