Laura D. Willis

Estate Planning Attorney
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What do you do for work? Give us a few reasons why you love it.
I am an attorney, focusing primarily on estate planning. I am working to develop a specialty in elder law, as well. I enjoy the practice of law in general because I love research, analytical writing, and interfacing with clients to identify their problems and offer them solutions in a manner that is both professional and compassionate.
Your current company aside, name another company that you admire and explain why.
I admire Chick-Fil-A for never wavering from their support of family values and Christianity, even in the face of controversy and risk of losing market share. They have high retention and satisfaction rates, and their employees are extremely courteous. Their owners and managers are very hands-on, circulating around the restaurant or even taking orders outside on any given day.
In your opinion, what is wrong with the corporate world and how would you fix it?
Without getting too political, I believe that the over-regulation of corporations drives jobs outside the country and forces companies to focus more on the bottom line and staying competitive rather than attracting, and keeping, qualified and loyal employees. I would fix the problem by reducing the regulatory burdens on corporations.
What are the most important lessons you’ve learned in your life?
Always be kind to people even when it seems impossible. You never know what they could be going through. My brother had a severe head injury as a child and almost passed away, and my own son had a serious cardiac condition as a baby. I know too many parents who have lost a child, or siblings who have lost a brother or sister. I try, even on the most trying of days, to reflect each day on how lucky I am to have healthy children.
How do you measure success at work? In life?
I measure success at work not by my paycheck, or praise from the partners about achieving a certain number of billable hours per month. What matters is how I treat clients, and whether they walk away feeling that I did everything I could for them, in a competent, professional, responsive, and kind manner. In life, I measure success by whether I can go to sleep at night with the following thoughts: 1) I did right by my family today; 2) I worked hard today; 3) I treated people with respect and did not hurt anyone today; and 4) I did all that I could today (re: stressful situations that I may feel powerless about). Another statement that I really took to heart a few years ago when I heard it at a work- life balance seminar was, “You can mess up at work, but you can’t mess up at home.” That has always stuck with me, and I strive to always put my family first.