Aura Adams, with Hirschfeld & Kraemer, LLP, said she particularly enjoys the problem-solving aspect of her work as an employment attorney.
“I like taking what seems like a rigid set of laws and marrying it with what’s practical and what people really desire,” she said.
“I feel a sense of accomplishment,” finding workable solutions that help both the employer and the employee, she said.
1. What was your first job?
In middle school I worked as a sales clerk for Stockton’s two, locally-owned bookstores. My favorite sections were, and still are, the reference and children’s book sections. Neither (bookstore) is still open. It’s a bummer.
2. How did you get into the legal industry?
I was raised by a single mother with an intense work ethic and have always been drawn to the important role jobs play in our American lives.
Before law school, I worked with employers to help facilitate injured workers’ return to work. Employment law was a natural fit after becoming a lawyer.
3. What’s a common question or misconception you get about your work?
I think there’s sometimes this misconception that it’s employer versus employee.
(However) employers, in general, really do want to do right by their employees. The mistakes are often unintentional and the clients I have aren’t in an adversarial position with their employees. They are in it together. Their intentions are good and they share a lot of the same objectives.
4. Do attorneys get a bad rap?
I think they can. It’s a profession that’s relatively slow to change and modernize.
In the last 10 years, I’ve seen a lot of progress in the profession. They are starting to embrace alternative professional tracks; they are starting to talk more with clients about more transparency about billing and billing arrangements.
People are starting to rethink the profession and the way the commodity of legal service is being delivered.
But progress is slow because it’s a very traditional profession.
5. What’s your advice to someone who wants to become an attorney?
There are lots of different lawyers out there. Don’t feel like the only option is the one you see on “Law & Order.”
Make sure it really makes economic sense. There are plenty of other professions out there where you can do as well or better as a lawyer.
6. What is the biggest challenge your business/industry has faced?
Rising payroll and healthcare costs, ever-expanding laws and regulations and an aggressive plaintiffs’ bar make California the toughest state to be an employer in the U.S.
7. Who do you most admire in the business world?
Sir Richard Branson of the Virgin Group for his creative vision, risk-taking, humor and tenacity.
8. If you could change one thing about your industry, what would it be?
Lawyers are often only called into action as a defense strategy.
During my 15+ years as in-house counsel I worked side-by-side with business leaders to provide collaborative and business-savvy workplace solutions.
My best client is one who views employment law as a business opportunity and controllable expense.
9. What’s something people might be surprised to know about you?
I don’t revel being in the spotlight and would much rather help someone else shine.
10. If you could be anywhere right now, where would you be?
Watching whales from the bluffs of Mendocino.