“We be falling up, never falling down / We keep it at a higher level, elevated ground.” — Black Eyed Peas
The New Year often forces us to take an accounting of our lives. Are we measuring up to the age we live in? Are we living our best lives? For Clark Hill attorney Kara Rozin, this New Year marked an exceptionally reflective time.
Rozin joined Clark Hill in September 2016 and her tenure with the firm has been quite busy thus far. Last year, Rozin’s sister had a baby and then shortly after she was diagnosed with brain cancer. Nine months later, in December, Rozin’s husband was diagnosed with bile duct cancer. Through the health scares and hospital stays, Rozin still managed to bill 1950 hours. Work became both her release from and her resource for dealing with the stresses of her family life.
Earlier this month, Clark Hill announced that Rozin was elected to membership (promoted to partner). I have known Kara ever since she became an attorney and have had the chance to witness her journey. If I had to describe her in one word, I would call her a fighter. She never backs down from and she is always willing to square up to a good challenge.
This week, I had the opportunity to catch up with Kara Rozin. It has become evident that her life and career experiences have made her wise beyond her years. Without further ado, here is a (lightly edited and condensed) write-up of our conversation:
Renwei Chung (RC): Congratulations on being recently elected to membership in your firm. Can you tell us a little bit about your career so far?
Kara Rozin (KR): Thank you! It’s a great start to 2018. I can’t believe this year will be 10 years of practicing law for me. My practice is focused on Education and I represent public school districts across Michigan in an array of matters ranging from labor and employment to student discipline to labor negotiations. I also regularly train school district employees on recent legislation and timely hot topics such as Restorative Justice and Title IX/Title VII Sexual Harassment.
RC: Your recent promotion may have been the least noteworthy news, among all the other surprises you endured, in 2017. Can you share with us a little bit about last year’s journey and how you have dealt with or what you have learned from it?
KR: 2017 was a year of challenges, that’s for sure. In March 2017, only a few months into my new position at Clark Hill, my younger sister was diagnosed with brain cancer. Then, 9 months later in December, my new husband was diagnosed with bile duct cancer. I’m really not sure how I dealt with that, all while hitting my billing target.
I am still dealing with it actually, but I learned “not to sweat the small stuff” and to take advantage of my resources when I need to. Work has become both my release and resource, because on one hand it was nice to focus on helping clients with their problems, but I have also learned to leverage my practice group partners when I need time away for me and my family.
I am grateful to work with such amazing people in my practice group and firm who do not hesitate to step-in when called on. I LOVE what I do and the clients I serve, but it’s important to remember that family comes first, because without them, I wouldn’t be who I am or where I’m at.
RC: What professional, career, or life advice do you have for young attorneys and those currently attending law school?
KR: For those currently attending law school, my advice is don’t think you will learn anything about the “PRACTICE” of law while in law school. Law school gives you the foundation, the science of law. However, the practice of law is an art, which is only learned and mastered once out of law school. The more practical, hands-on, experience you can get while in law school, the better. Volunteer at legal aid, go and watch motion hearings in court, intern at a law office. You’ll be one step ahead of your competition.
For young attorneys, the best advice I can give is that if you think being a lawyer is a 9-5 job, you are in the wrong profession. The practice of law does not start and stop once you cross the threshold of the office. Your clients may call afterhours when they get out of work, you may have to spend a Saturday afternoon researching an issue that cannot be billed to the client, or you may wake up at 3am the day of a motion hearing and spend another few hours reviewing your oral argument because you cannot fall back asleep.
Competition is brutal and clients want the best, so you should always be available to your clients and working to increase your knowledge and expertise in your chosen field of practice. Always anticipate the next “issue” or “hot topic” so you beat your competition to the punch.
RC: What advice do you have for law firms to be more fair and inclusive in their hiring and promotion practices?
KR: Women in the law have come a long way; however, there is still work to be done. I still remember my first year of practice when I would show up to a hearing or deposition and an “old boys club” opposing counsel would ask if I was the court reporter or a law clerk.
It took time, experience and a new layer of thick skin to establish myself and my reputation. Once there, it’s been a continuous effort to maintain that reputation—often going above and beyond what some of my very dear friends and male colleagues have had to do to obtain the same recognition or results.
I am honored to work for a firm that embraces, and celebrates, women in its hiring and promotion practices. We have a Diversity and Inclusion Committee, who sponsored training at our annual firm retreat last July in our nation’s capital, “Breaking through Bias: Understanding Gender Stereotypes and How Legal Organizations Can Achieve Real Gender Diversity.”
Knowledge is power, but it doesn’t stop there. Training and education regarding gender inclusion and equality in the workplace should be incorporated into practice. This goes both ways. Women need to break the silence, along with the glass ceiling.
RC: What do you do when you are not practicing law?
KR: I spend as much time as I can with family and friends. One of the biggest blessings during my year of challenges last year was the birth of my nephew, Luke!
He actually just turned one this week. I call him “Chunker Monker” because he is so chunky. He’s brought our family so much joy and happiness. I absolutely love being an Aunt, watching him grow and spoiling him rotten!
The other love of my life (besides my husband) is our fur-child, Arnie. He’s a 6 year old chocolate lab and a BIG BABY! We spoil him so much and enjoy taking him to parks and to the lake to swim in the summer.
RC: It was great chatting with you. Is there anything else you would like to share with our audience?
KR: Thanks for having me! I’ll leave the audience with my favorite quote from Erin Hanson about believing in yourself and taking chances: “There is freedom waiting for you,
On the breezes of the sky, and you ask what if I fall? Oh but my darling, what if you fly?”