By Janet Wallace • March 18, 2015•Features, Guest Bloggers and Profiles of Women in the Law
From a tiny office in rural Alaska to a skyscraper in Manhattan, from The Sunshine State to The Prairie State, Ms. JD's Attorneys Across America series seeks to capture snapshots of successful women attorneys practicing law from sea to shining sea. Ms. JD had a few questions for Kate Rayne who founded a boutique law firm in Portland, Maine:
Where do you practice law?
I practice in Portland, Maine.
Describe your legal market. What is the size of the market? How would you describe the culture?
The legal market here is small, but full of attorneys. I've heard that we have more attorneys per capita in Portland, Maine than any other place in the US, other than Washington, DC. I don't know how accurate that is, but it feels true. But the bar here is very friendly. Attorneys are generally happy to help each other out. Maine is the only bar I've experienced, but attorneys who move here from other places always remark at how collegial the legal community is here. It's very common for more senior attorneys to informally mentor younger attorneys, even if they aren't in the same firm. I have mentor-mentee relationships with several more senior attorneys in town, and it's been a huge help in building my practice. I also do the same for some newer attorneys. We have to be friendly. We all rely on each other.
Describe your practice area.
My practice areas are business, estate planning, and tax. Before I started my own practice I worked at a CPA firm, getting tax experience. That really colored how I work with business clients. I take a somewhat integrated approach to corporate law and tax. I advise on the tax issues related to business transactions, formations, etc., and I even prepare business tax returns in situations where it would be helpful for the client to have that done in conjunction with the legal advising. I also do a lot of succession planning and estate planning work for my small business clients.
What makes Portland, Maine a unique place to practice law?
Portland is unique because it's so small, yet so much legal work goes on here. The bench here is very involved, or so I'm told. I don't do anything litigation based so I really don't deal much with the bench. But I'm told that they regularly make appearances at events and continuing education seminars that are relevant to them, and are generally very involved in the legal community.
What are good resources for women attorneys in your area?
There are a lot of resources for female attorneys here. The law school (the only one in Maine, University of Maine School of Law) has a student organization called the Women's Law Association. They run a mentorship program that a lot of female attorneys participate in. There is also a Women's Law Section of the Maine State Bar Association. They put on a few great CLEs every year.
What has been your hardest day on the job?
Worst day working for someone else: a Partner at the firm was working for pulled me into a conference room and yelled at me (I mean a good yelling) for making a mistake on something that I had never done before. He never taught me how to do this particular task or gave me any guidance. I later learned that his client had yelled at him for the mistake because he didn't catch my mistake before it went out the door. That experience taught me what kind of boss I wanted to be. In my office I'm responsible for all of the work that goes out the door for my clients, and I review all of it. If I don't catch a mistake, that's my fault. My staff didn't sign up for the responsibility of being a partner.
Worst day working for myself: I came into the office one January morning at 7:30am to prep for an 8am meeting with a brand new client. The heat had stopped working overnight and it was 40 degrees in the office. This was early on in my solo practice, and I really needed to land the client. They had to wear a coat and gloves for the whole meeting. We could see our breath. I was mortified.
What has been your best day on the job?
My best day on the job was the day my husband, Jason, (who is also an attorney with a tax background) was able to leave his job and join my practice. We're partners now, so the name of the practice changed from Lanman Law to Lanman Rayne. It was a very exciting time, both for the business and for our family.
What advice do you have for women attorneys following in your footsteps?
Go for whatever it is that will make you happy. Just do it. You'll surprise yourself.
Before founding Lanman Rayne in 2011, Kate worked as a tax accountant, assisting clients with tax planning and tax return preparation. At Lanman Rayne, Kate takes a tax centered approach to helping her clients on issues including estate planning, business start-up, mergers and acquisitions, business operations, and succession planning. In all aspects of her work, Kate is dedicated to working with her clients to find the creative solutions that best fit their needs. Kate holds a Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics from McGill University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Maine School of Law. She lives in Scarborough, Maine with her husband, Jason and her kitten, Tilly.