Attorney at Law Magazine recently spoke with Catherine Higgins Crawley, a partner at Wicker Smith, about her practice and her outlook on the industry.
AALM: When did you first know you wanted to become an attorney? What drew you to this career?
CHC: My family will say that I was always destined to be an attorney, but it didn’t really click for me until I began participating in debate clubs and mock trial.
AALM: Who is your current mentor? What is the best lesson they’ve taught you so far?
CHC: I’ve had the benefit of being surrounded by supportive and insightful individuals, both in and out of the legal field. Holly Howanitz in particular has been a fantastic guide for me. All my mentors have taught me that complacency is a dirty word, and to say yes to opportunities and figure out the rest later.
AALM: Who are some of your legal heroes? Why?
CHC: Oliver Babish, of the West Wing. Although fictional, his ability to kick into gear to do what he does best is admirable—not to mention he steals the show.
AALM: How is the practice of law different than your expectations in law school?
CHC: Being an effective attorney is much more multifaceted and collaborative than any casebook or law school class reflects. The ability to manage your time, expectations, peers, staff, and clients is a skill that is not necessarily taught in law school, but certainly relevant to everyday life.
AALM: What drew you to your current firm? How would you describe the culture there?
CHC: I knew that I wanted to be a trial attorney, and I have had the privilege to learn from the fabulous and skilled litigators at Wicker Smith. We have a young, vibrant office where I am constantly learning new things from my colleagues—whether it be new appellate decisions or new restaurants to try. I am so grateful and honored to have been part of the 2022 partnership class.
AALM: With technology and an ever-global world, how do you see the legal profession evolving over your career? Do you believe this will be positive or negative?
CHC: The ability to digitally connect with clients, counsel, and friends is only a positive to me. The last few years have pushed the field forward, and allowed for more flexibility overall. I hope that the field continues to embrace the balance between in-person and remote work. I think we’ve all seen the benefits from being a bit more flexible with remote meetings, and I hope that continues on.
AALM: Working with senior partners what is a trait they have that you would like to carry through to the next generation of lawyers?
CHC: I hope to carry forward the “institutional knowledge” that I see very experienced attorneys exhibit. That’s how I term the ability to recognize the true issues and make the tactical and strategic choices for a case that can only come with time and expertise in the field.
AALM: What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
CHC: My husband and I enjoy traveling, working out, and watching bad horror movies with our two corgis.