When I started law school at the University of St. Thomas in 2001, I was drawn to the law school because I had a background in sociology and wanted to work in either the non-profit field, or in government as a lawyer. Ten years ago, when I graduated from law school, I believed that living the mission meant that I would be a public defender or some other sort of public servant. Today, 10 years after graduating from law school, I remain just as committed to truth, morality and social justice, but my understanding of the pursuit of truth, morality and social justice for me in my life has changed.
I am a principal at Gray Plant Mooty, a large Minneapolis law firm, and I work in our corporate and business practice group. I focus in the areas of general business law, securities, and mergers and acquisitions, and work with mostly private companies of varying sizes with their day-to-day business operations and legal needs. I am married and have two boys, ages 2 and 4. Practicing corporate and business law is about as far away from what I thought I’d do in law school, and I sort of fell into it via a move to New York right after law school and then back to Minneapolis again. What I’ve learned, though, is that despite the fact that my job is not at a non-profit or as a public defender, I am still living the mission and committed to social justice, truth and morality.
In my day-to-day work, I am committed to producing high quality work product for my clients — I am committed to being engaged with my clients as a fair advocate, and to providing good and moral legal advice. At Gray Plant, I am also able to pursue my social justice side — I serve on our firm’s Foundation Board, I volunteer and do pro bono work with Volunteer Lawyers’ Network and the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota, and I am a board member of WATCH, an organization that works to make the justice system more responsive to crimes of violence, focusing on greater safety for victims of violence and greater accountability for violent offenders. Above work is my family, and I am committed to my kids, husband and family, and to making sure that I’m being truthful to myself by allowing myself the time I want and need to spend with them.
Living the mission is not always as obvious as pursuing a career in public interest law or working for a non-profit — which is what I thought it meant 10 years ago. I think that the challenge with living the mission is trying to remain committed to the mission when your career and your life don’t always lead you where you thought you might go. For me, it is looking for and finding ways of seeing the mission in my day-to-day life — being there for my family and making sure I am a present and active parent, all the while providing excellent work product, being truthful and honest with myself and my clients, and then looking for opportunities within the workplace or the community to fulfill that social justice piece. I am sure that this understanding of living the mission will continue to evolve for me, and I will continue to think about it as my life and career continue to change.
Julia Sinaiko Offenhauser ’04 is a principal at Gray Plant Mooty, where she focuses her practice in the areas of general business law, securities, and mergers and acquisitions. She also has experience in public bond financing and working with starts-ups and emerging companies.