This week’s Monday Muse is Wynne Reece and I couldn’t be more excited. I could literally say that every week, but it’s really true! There are so many exceptional, inspirational women who are doing amazing things, that it just give me goosebumps to be able to share them every Monday with you all. I’ll let you read on to learn all the amazing things Wynne does (I wouldn’t do it justice in just a few words here). But know this, she is just as wonderful in person as she is on her Instagram and I still don’t know how she does it all.
You wear MANY hats that cross both the legal and creative fields (a rare skill!), can you share with us all you do and how you got started?
Founder of The Creative's Counsel and (coming soon, The Creative’s Connector); Partner, Reece Law, L.L.C; co-founder of the pro bono legal clinic, The Northside Legal Clinic; Partner, The ADR Collective, LLC; Adjunct Professor at Mitchell Hamline School of Law. And if that wasn't enough, I have a few pretty wonderful things in the works, collaborating with some other powerhouse business babes!
While many perceive 'growing up quickly' to be a crutch, I cherish the experience so very much. As a true Minneapolitan, I grew up immersed in two worlds: the land of law and the land of magic and music. Unfortunately, I am no musician. I followed in the footsteps of my attorney-father, but not without a fight. My mother was keen to the exquisite music scene as a Grammy-winning classical composer. When their professions collided, I traveled the world with them, running my imagination into wild depths. Today I credit my creative, entrepreneurial spirit to this childhood, filled like boiling water with opportunity and inspiration.
Currently, I’m thirty-three and living in the quaint town of Excelsior, Minnesota, (just on the outskirts of Minneapolis), albeit with a heart brimming full of wanderlust. I own a boutique litigation and business law firm that focuses on helping other entrepreneurs grow and prosper.
I earned my Juris Doctor from William Mitchell College of Law, where I worked as a research assistant, a certified-student attorney in a public defender’s office and in a district attorney’s office, and a law clerk for a large national firm, before I landed with my private civil practice in Minneapolis.
Despite this succinct depiction of my legal path, I won’t pretend law was always the plan. Oh, gosh, no! My heart was set on becoming a plastic surgeon by day and painter by night. I interned with a plastic surgeon. I was on my way. So why deviate from a chance at pursuing my childhood dream? My college counselor suggested the shift. Before finishing my sophomore year, she carried with her an honest confession during one of our heart-to-hearts. I was really bad at science, at least, by standard grading methods. And while she admired my tenacity to stick with it, getting into a good medical school would not be impossible, but unlikely.
Knowing my aversion to pursuing the same path as either parent, she still encouraged me to consider the law. So, I switched majors, worked hard to get my GPA to a competitive level (for law school), and started interning in the legal arena. Admittedly the work came much easier to me and I enjoyed the subject matter whole heartedly. However, I was stubborn as an ox. I pushed back hard and didn't truly settle on becoming an attorney until the first time I stepped into a court room . I’ll never forget the first time I stepped up to the podium and let the words, ‘Good morning, Your Honor’ escape my lips, it was as though I became someone else; it wasn’t the adrenaline, rather it was the sense of being, the sense of knowing in my gut that where I stood was exactly where I belonged. After that, there was no looking back.
After graduation, I started Reece Law, L.L.C. and my father joined shortly after. Although, historically, firms of all sizes were built on familial relationships, today it is surprisingly uncommon to see family members practicing together. In fact, many mid-large size firms have policies against it because of the way money is distributed and the concern for favoritism, as well as the emotional aspect families can have that may not be conducive to working in a law firm. My dad departed big firm life, a very successful place that he had worked his entire career to build, to mentor me, just as he had been, thirty-some years ago. An opportunity of a lifetime, for my future.
Although I had the unbelievable blessing to start a firm with my role model, starting my own firm, or "hanging a shingle" as its commonly called, is not an easy endeavor. Most young associates go to work in one specialty for firms with existing structures, like vast document banks and existing clients. During the first week working at the firm, I was tasked with "finding an untapped area of law." (Writer’s Note: I know what you’re thinking What?! I was just learning how to be a lawyer - how in the heck was I supposed to find an area of law that was un-tapped!?) So, with a mountain of unknowns on my shoulders, I started from the ground up. I designed a business plan, picking known areas of law we could practice in while brainstorming fresh focuses, built the firm structure, managed the administrative needs and then set out to find clients.
After two years of balancing a litigation practice, a plethora of pro bono cases, coaching high school Mock Trial, running the event company, becoming a newly-wed and reading a number of The Every Girl articles on time management and life balance, I realized consolidation was a must. No matter how I cut it, there were simply not enough hours in the day to balance so many professional lives and maintain a healthy personal life. Still, as a true Gemini, I was determined to find a point of connection, which is what led to the birth of The Creative's Counsel.
The Creative's Counsel is an arm of Reece Law, L.L.C., built with the client in mind and heart. The company is based on our genuine interest and passion for people and our love of connecting new people and learning about their dreams. A bounty of business attorneys reside in the Midwest, but while immersed in the throws of the event planning industry, I found out how many of these business owners didn’t have the legal side of their businesses managed. In most cases, this was due to a few core reasons: lack of understanding their legal needs, DIY legal websites, or the concern that legal assistance was not only cost-prohibitive but intimidating. So, with all of these pillars in mind, we structured The Creative’s Counsel to provide affordable, approachable legal representation, with large firm experience and work product quality, to Creatives, Makers and small business owners. It highlights the importance of the attorney-client relationship and the need for ease and accessibility to one’s attorney. While I love planning, my truest joy is helping others feel secure in their business endeavors, so they can stay humble and hustle hard, pursuing their passions.
Who inspired you to do what you do now?
Fundamentally, my parents, my God Mother (Cindy), and a few very close friends who believed I could and pushed me to be more. I would be remiss not to mention that all of those who came down on me, shamed me for being a terrible test taker or laughed at my aspirations also inspired me, because they fueled my fire and I am better for crossing paths with them.
How do you structure your days to get it all done?
On my best days, I am very structured! In fact if you look at my calendar, I am scheduled out into October at the moment. I schedule a work out every day and then schedule all in-person meetings and calls on 2 days a week, to leave the other 3 days open to get my work down. Now, when it comes down to it, being a business owner / new mom / wife / friend / daughter, things don't always go accordingly, so I take each day as it comes. When there are weeks during which client emergencies arise, all breaks loose and every second of the day is utilized!
What's the best advice you ever received? And on that same note, what is the one thing you would tell anyone starting their own business?
While you should always dream bigger, you are not invincible. Take care of yourself. Surround yourself with the most genuine of friends and don’t walk away when they tell you the hard things. Remember quality, over quantity. Sleep at least six hours a night, do not over commit yourself simply because you can, drink even more water, set boundaries, go easy on the candy intake and above all, learn to say no!
Rapid Fire Questions:
Early riser or Night Owl? Early riser (recovering insomniac)
Beach or Mountains? Mountains
Favorite book? The Great Gatsby
Go with the flow or Control Freak? Go with the flow
Dream Destination? India
Three qualities that got you where you are today? Humor (Approachability), Independence and Ambition
Thank you Wynne for sharing your journey with us! We can’t wait to learn more about The Creative’s Connector and all the other great things you have in the works!