With more than 25 years of experience representing architects; structural, civil, mechanical and electrical engineers; lawyers; and land surveyors, it’s no surprise that Anne L. Blume (’91) is a recognized Illinois “Leading Lawyer” and was one of the 2013 “Women Making an Impact.” Recently named Office Managing Partner of Cozen O’Connor’s Chicago office, Ms. Blume, a self-described “serial collaborator” and reformed advertising professional, got candid on the importance of women in law, leadership advice to live by, and stories her family tells about her… well, almost.
JMLS: When and how did you know you wanted to be a lawyer? What was your path to law school?
Blume: I graduated from Michigan State University, with a bachelor of arts in advertising, in what is now known as the “L.A. Law” era, in 1985. From there, I moved to Chicago and worked at a prestigious advertising agency, which was all sorts of fun, but I always had my eye on being a lawyer. I knew that law school was an expensive and time-consuming proposition, so I thought it prudent to first explore my interest in advertising—and I am glad that I did. After working in advertising for a couple of years, I started law school, and it’s been full steam ahead since then.
JMLS: You were recently appointed to serve as Office Managing Partner at Cozen O’Connor’s Chicago office, as well as on the firm’s Management Committee. What is your management philosophy, and how will that guide changes you might make at the firm?
Blume: I am inclusive by nature and a serial collaborator, so my management style is fairly open. One of my first goals has been to get our people more involved in the legal community. To that end, 100% of our attorneys (and some staff) participated in the Chicago Bar Foundation’s Investing in Justice Campaign, led by my JMLS classmate, Bob Glaves (’91). We had various activities created by co-captain Amy Doig (’13)—like “Pie a Partner Day” and a casino night—designed to inspire financial contributions to the CBF, and we have boosted our office’s participation in the firm’s pro-bono effort. Another goal is to continue to grow our practices in Cozen O’ Connor’s Chicago office to be more reflective of our full-service firm. With the help of Tia Ghattas (’99), the Chicago office recently hosted an event at which Price Waterhouse Coopers presented on “Navigating at an Altitude: Emerging Trends in Real Estate and Construction 2018,” which was attended by our real estate and construction clients and partners.
JMLS: Also, what is the best piece of leadership advice you’ve ever received?
Blume: I’m not sure I can limit it to one, because there are so many. I suppose my first favorite is that ‘worrying is like a rocking chair, it will keep you busy but not get you anywhere.’ Another one is: ‘Don’t look in the rear view mirror, as the road ahead is so much more interesting and productive.’ My third favorite is that ‘if no one is complaining about you, you’re not doing anything.’
JMLS: Do you have a favorite memory of law school?
Blume: I have a lot of law school memories—some great and some that tested my mettle. Some of my favorites involve the Moot Court office and various Moot Court activities. I fondly recall a road trip to Springfield, Illinois, for the Illinois State Bar Association Moot Court Competition, which was during spring break that year. After my team [Todd Porter (’90) and Paul Campbell (’91)] won the competition, we had a few adult beverages and found a golf course. The rest is history and lives on in the pre-cellphone camera era.
JMLS: Can you tell us one thing that your John Marshall classmates might be surprised to learn about you?
Blume: Before I argued a case in front of the Illinois Supreme Court, I sat down and thought about everything I had learned in JMLS Moot Court practices to help prepare me for my oral argument (and I won, but hopefully that does not surprise too many).
JMLS: You have been recognized by the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin on its “Women Making an Impact” list. Why is it important for women to be acknowledged in this profession?
Blume: This profession is still very much a ‘man’s world,’ and while there are more and more women rising to the top in their firms and companies, there is still significant room for progress. Law firms are slowly moving toward more inclusive ranks that mirror not only their client bases, but the world’s population. I’m fortunate to have practiced at firms that encourage women’s successes and champion women in the practice of law—Meckler Bulger Tilson Marick & Pearson and now Cozen O’Connor. And, I am very proud to be a woman who is doing her best to see that other women succeed in this male-dominated profession.
JMLS: What advice would you give to a newer attorney hoping to make an impact in this profession?
Blume: Find an organization—whether it is charitable, philanthropic, or legal—where you can make a difference in the organization and/or your community, as it will establish you in the profession and provide you with a foundation for personal and professional growth, fulfillment, and a strong network.
JMLS: What is one story your family likes to tell about you?
Blume: Well, it is nothing that I would want published anywhere, and I am grateful for having grown up before the advent of cellphones!
JMLS: If you had a time machine and could travel to any period of time in the past, when would it be and why?
Blume: I’d go back to summer camp in the 1970s, when life was simpler.