NYSBA Member Spotlight: Jacqueline J. Drohan
Who are your heroes in the legal world?
There are many! Judge Roselyn Richter was legal writing professor my law School and watching her career has influenced me greatly. She has overcome many obstacles and societal barriers to become Associate Justice of the New York State Appellate Division. Likewise, the late Judge Deborah Batts. She was the first openly gay African American female federal district court judge. As a practitioner, Jillian Weiss has been both model and mentor to me at many levels. She is a superbly competent advocate and has been a fearless voice at the national level for the civil rights of transgender and other LGBTQ employees, and our community generally.
If you didn’t become an attorney, what career path would you have pursued and why?
Well having started out as a capital markets dealer, the reality is I likely would have stayed in finance had I not entered private legal practice in 1995. Many of my former colleagues are my clients and I both respect and enjoy serving the industry. That said, what has kept me in the law for so long has been an appreciation of the practical problem-solving resources attorneys bring to bear for clients. Whatever I would have done, I think I would have gravitated toward the counseling, advisory or advocacy professions in some form.
If you could dine with any lawyers – real or fictional – from any time in history, who would it be and what would you discuss?
That’s a hard one! I’m not always certain that lawyers are very fairly portrayed in modern fiction. Martha Costello from Silk would be a good choice. Patty Hewes, from the movie Damages, for relatability. For historical interest, I’d love to get in the ear of Roger Baldwin, defense counsel in the Amistad case.
What is your favorite book, movie and television show?
To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf comes to mind for a great novel. Amelie for a movie, if again, forced to choose. My TV taste is embarrassingly mundane. Mostly 70’s sitcoms and cooking shows. I have been known to binge Golden Girls in my downtime.
How did you decide on your practice area?
Having completed an MBA in finance and working as a bank dealer, I really grew my practice around my natural client base. It’s a nice problem to have, and one of the advantages of starting legal practice after having a base career in an industry you enjoy.
What is the best life lesson that you have learned?
To focus first and always on balance. Personal and professional, physical and emotional, and so many other aspects. I am always learning in this regard. For example, the ability to respect the perspectives of others while not being attached to their opinion of you. It’s hard enough to live in our own heads, let alone in the heads of others. Be authentic always, especially in this profession, because trust is the only competitive commodity that really matters. With respect to clients, most important is to listen very well before you speak, and always to manage expectations.
Lawyers should join the New York State Bar Association because . . . the ability for New York practitioners, as well as others, to network with one of the largest and oldest bar associations in the country in an invaluable blessing. NYSBA is surprisingly welcoming, and devotes matchless resources to continuing education, career development and networking for its members. Committees are active and encouraging of new members. Serving on the Amicus / Litigation Committee of the NYSBA LGBTQ law section, I can attest that not only is NYSBA a tireless advocate for career development, legal ethics, and even health and wellness for its members, but strongly lends its voice to broader issues of civil rights and social justice.