Meet Kathy Van Voorhees! The Newest Member of Stock Legal

Meet Kathy Van Voorhees! The Newest Member of Stock Legal

I grew up in the Washington, DC metro area going back and forth between divorced parents living in Virginia and Maryland. There was a time in middle school when my father worked as an environmental attorney, my stepmother worked as a glass packaging industry lobbyist on Capitol Hill, my mother was a court reporter for House and Senate committee hearings and my stepfather was an administrative law judge for the National Labor Relations Board. I grew up hearing issues discussed from many perspectives. Maybe this is why I crave context to gain understanding. I studied Political Science and Economics at James Madison University before heading west to attend law school at Washington University.

After law school, I started at a small firm working in civil litigation. Defending individuals and businesses in lawsuits was the perfect opportunity to get into the courtroom. Soon I was trying cases to juries as first chair where I learned important lessons about communication. Juries can’t raise their hands mid-trial when they don’t understand something or ask a witness to clarify. I learned that people absorb and retain information differently. Some jurors were numbers people and needed data, some responded to storytelling and others needed visuals. I learned to advocate for my clients employing all of the above.

Next I took a position in the staff counsel office of an insurance company where I continued trial work representing businesses insured by my employer. I was excited to become the dedicated attorney in our office to work with the special investigations unit to uncover fraud. I also enjoyed working with the franchised businesses we insured and was named to that dedicated role. Eventually, my role expanded into counseling our clients about risk management. For example, how to be sure the liability they took on in various contractual arrangements and joint ventures was covered under their policies and how to add coverage when necessary or rewrite the contracts to avoid unintended liability.

Ultimately, I realized I enjoyed working directly with and building relationships with business owners and managers, so I left the insurance company for a mid-sized firm to focus on these direct relationships. Eventually, I hung out my shingle and started my own practice. At this point, I was handling a mix of business and franchise litigation and transactional work. However, the ligation work grew increasingly dissatisfying for me. Despite good results, the process was expensive, uncertain and grueling for my clients. As a result, I switched gears to focus on helping my clients mitigate risk and avoid litigation. By anticipating challenges and crafting bespoke agreements between founders, contractors, vendors, etc. I could greatly improve the viability of my clients. I found the more I understood the big picture – their concerns, issues in the past, and future plans – the more I could help.

Eventually, one of my clients, a small business (100 - 125 employees) asked me to take a full-time in-house General Counsel position, which I served for about three years. In this role, I handled mergers, acquisitions, commercial real estate matters, employment matters, consumer complaints and compliance in a carefully regulated industry. In addition, I advised company owners and served with other senior management to bring my perspective to business decisions.

Recently I was describing my seemingly meandering career path over lunch when I had this aha moment and suddenly it all made sense. While others have a more traditional straight line career path and I often felt I was traveling in circles, I was actually moving around to see things from different angles and getting the panoramic view. By litigating agreements and deals gone wrong first, I learned how things blew-up. That hindsight taught me to better anticipate and protect against other mishaps. Working in firms, I observed some lawyers who felt they were hired to instruct clients on what to do and clients should simply pay the bills and follow their advice. I don’t work that way. I take a collaborative approach and enjoy strategizing with my clients to build solutions tailored specifically to their needs. After working as General Counsel, I better appreciate juggling many risks at once and tending to the business while leaving room for opportunities and employing a cost benefit analysis for each protection. I’m passionate about empowering clients to realize their vision and I am excited to partner with them as they grow.

This is why I am so enthusiastic to become a part of Stock Legal. The lawyers here take the same client-centered approach and are driven to foster and nurture their clients’ growth.

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