Attorney at Law Magazine Cleveland Publisher Jim Schultz sat down with Rebecca Yingst Price to discuss her career.
AALM: When did you first know you wanted to become an attorney? What drew you to this career?
Price: From a young age, I had a fascination with becoming an attorney. My grandfather, Leon Yudkin, was a tax attorney. As a child, I used to wander into his study to look at all his books and certificates, and sit in his chair and pretend I was tackling important matters. In the 1960s, while working for the U.S. Justice Department, he was assigned to Santiago, Chile to help their government set up a new taxation system.
My grandfather grew up in Brooklyn in the 1920s where he saw a lot of transactions that were “off the books.” The system he set up for Chile demanded that there would be a receipt issued for everything, and there would be tax officials in place to make sure that receipts were indeed issued. To this day, if you buy a pack of gum on the street or pay $0.10 to use a public bathroom in Chile, you are given a receipt. His career opened my eyes to the fact that you can do many different things with a law degree.
AALM: Did you ever want to be anything else?
Price: At the University of Rochester, I majored in political science and Spanish. Before law school, I wanted to spend a year working on my Spanish language fluency so I spent a year in Santiago, Chile teaching English. After I returned to the States, I contemplated becoming a history or Spanish teacher and coaching lacrosse after school (I played in college). However, I had already put down a deposit at Case so my family convinced me that I should give law school a chance. If I decided it was not the right fit, I could always get my teaching certificate, but if I didn’t go to law school then it was unlikely that I ever would. I am glad I listened to that advice since I am happy with the path my career has taken.
AALM: Describe your early career. What lessons did you learn from these early experiences?
Price: Unlike many attorneys, I did not go to law school because I had dreams of arguing cases in front of the Supreme Court. I was more interested in mediation than debate. My first permanent position was as a staff attorney in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas working for Judge Peggy Foley Jones, then Judge John J. Russo. My job was to help my judges run their civil dockets and to help them settle cases. Working for two different judges exposed me to two different styles of negotiation, and different approaches to mediation. I got to see both sides of every case and the inner workings of the justice system. Now when I do have an adversarial action in Probate Court, the mediation skills that I learned are extremely valuable for accurately assessing cases and likely settlement scenarios.
AALM: What do you find particularly rewarding about being an attorney?
Price: I enjoy being an estate planning attorney because I get to help people plan for their family’s security. Each family has a unique set of circumstances which must be examined before determining which type of estate plan is best for them. For many, planning for the younger generation is the most important goal. For others, it is protecting a family member who is disabled. It is important to set up a long-term plan that will provide the security, and flexibility to make sure that their loved ones are safeguarded.
I also spend a lot of time helping families when a loved one has passed away. When the death was unexpected and there was no estate plan in place, there are many challenges including helping the family sort out business interests, settle debts, and get back on their feet again. Even when the decedent had a good estate plan, in place the details can be too much for a grieving family to handle without assistance. While this can be emotionally difficult, it is often very rewarding because you feel like you have really made a difference in someone’s life.
AALM: What compelled you to start your own practice?
Price: I wanted to start my own practice because I wanted to be able to control the direction of my practice – the types of cases that I took, the clients that I accepted, and the number of hours that I worked. I also wanted to have the flexibility to spend time with my 7-year-old daughter so I didn’t miss out on her childhood. I am building a practice helping others that I find fulfilling, and that will grow with me over time.
AALM: How would you describe the firm, the brand that you are building?
Price: I want to be the attorney that friends and former clients call whenever there is a legal crisis. I want to build lifelong relationships with clients and their families so they feel comfortable making that call for help. I don’t have any interest in churning out cookie-cutter estate plans to the masses just to maximize revenue. I strive to use the relationships that I have built across the legal and financial community so I ensure that my clients get the help that they need.
AALM: What pro bono or nonprofit work are you involved in? What drew you to those projects?
Price: I am on the board of Future Heights, a nonprofit organization in Cleveland Heights/University Heights which focuses on community engagement and economic development. I have lived in Cleveland Heights since I moved here in 2000 to attend law school. I love the walkable historic neighborhoods, the great restaurants, and the independent businesses. The foreclosure crisis hit the inner-ring suburbs particularly hard, and I think it is important to fight to preserve the great things about a community to curb disinvestment and flight. Since its inception, Future Heights has been working hard to preserve all the things that we love about our community.
AALM: What do you enjoy doing outside of work? Hobbies? Sports?
Price: I enjoy running, yoga, skiing and hiking. I coached lacrosse at Beaumont School for four years before my daughter was born, where my team made the Division II Ohio Final Four Tournament. Now, I am coaching my daughter’s K-2 soccer team which requires a much different mentality! I also enjoy cooking and baking with my daughter, eating out with my husband, and traveling.