Attorney at Law Magazine Phoenix is proud to introduce its Inaugural Attorneys to Watch special issue, featuring the movers and shakers you will want to keep an eye on this year. The featured business litigation attorney is Amy Wilkins who tells us about her practice and her plans for the future.
AALM: What drew you to the practice of litigation?
Wilkins: There was never any question that if I went to law school I would be a litigator. I have always been the sort of person who has to win at board games; I’m competitive by nature. I also like writing, so I enjoy arguing my client’s position through writing the best reasoned brief possible. Plus, with litigation, I get to learn about all sorts of different businesses, from TV stations and car sales to securities and medical marijuana. I need to understand my clients’ businesses to represent them effectively, and there is always a new challenge.
AALM: Which case most defined your career?
Wilkins: When I was a first-year associate at Kirkland & Ellis, I was assigned to help defend a class action involving credit card charges. I learned far more than I ever thought I’d know about credit card payment processing. By having that class action experience, subsequent firms assigned me to any class cases they were handling, and I eventually moved to a class action firm. I continue to partner with class action firms as a solo because it is a rewarding and effective way to challenge corporate practices that affect more than just one client.
AALM: What do you find particularly challenging about your practice and how do you overcome it?
Wilkins: I became a solo practitioner in 2012, and the immediate challenge was not being part of a team anymore. I was used to having more than one attorney assigned to a case, to having a more senior attorney advise me when needed, and to having a secretary and paralegal. Suddenly, I filled all of these roles. I have overcome this challenge through experience; I know after more than two years that I can run my practice and my cases effectively. I also know that my former colleagues are available to assist if I want to run a question by someone.
AALM: What do you find most rewarding in your day-to-day work as an attorney?
Wilkins: Now that I run a small firm, I have smaller cases and more individual clients than when I worked at large firms. Rather than the client being another lawyer, I often represent individuals who have never been through the litigation process. I do my best to be available, to explain the process, and most importantly, I try to listen. It has been rewarding to obtain positive solutions for these clients and to truly feel like I have been of assistance during a difficult time in their lives.
AALM: How would you say your practice has evolved over the years? How is it different from the way you envisioned it?
Wilkins: I never thought I’d run my own law firm. I worked at large firms, and I liked working big cases. But I’m happier now than I’ve ever been having my own business and my own clients. Some of my cases are very small now, but those cases are rewarding because they can sometimes be resolved effectively very quickly. And I still work on large cases, sometimes by partnering with other firms, so that part of my practice continues to evolve. To my surprise, I’ve really enjoyed the marketing and business aspect of running my firm, and I can’t wait to see what the next few years bring.