Women's Leadership InitiativeQ&A with Arlene Boruchowitz

Arlene Boruchowitz is an associate in the firm's Litigation Department. Her practice focuses primarily on complex commercial litigation, including matters involving requests for injunctive relief.

Describe a pivotal moment that influenced your career path.

The most pivotal moment in my career path was undoubtedly the moment that I decided not to become a music teacher, and to go to law school instead. When I started college as a music major (with an emphasis on voice), there was never a doubt in my mind that I would become a music teacher. However, after numerous minor colds in college that stole my voice and my ability to participate in most of my musical activities, and after observing numerous teachers in their classrooms with disinterest, I quickly realized that being a public school music teacher was not my calling. At that point, I started thinking about becoming a lawyer for the first time. I fondly recalled my high school experience playing a criminal defense attorney for a final project, and proudly remembered my defense verdict in that case: I was able to ensure the Frankenstein monster was exiled for his crimes, rather than executed. More importantly, I thought about how much I loved analytical reading, writing, and researching. I thought that since those skills were very important for lawyers to have, then I would probably enjoy being one. Turns out, I was right. 

What advice do you wish you could give your younger self, just starting out in the legal field?

My two biggest pieces of advice would be (1) take care of yourself, and (2) have confidence in yourself. As young attorneys, more than anything we want to do great work, impress those around us, and never say no to a project or an opportunity. I definitely felt that pressure, and I am not proud to say that I let my work completely consume me for much of my first year of practice. I developed unhealthy habits, took on far too many projects and opportunities, and quickly learned that I was doing myself no favors in the process. While I am by no means perfect at remembering to say no and take time for myself these days, I have made significant progress. Likewise, as young attorneys we feel as though we have no idea how to complete assignments and that we have nothing to add to “partner-level” activities like strategy discussions. My advice would be to have confidence in your abilities (everyone starts off feeling the way you do!), remember to use your resources, and always feel free to speak up when you feel you have an idea that could help the client. 

How has your previous experience helped you in your current role at Porter Wright?

My experience in college as a music major taught me a lot about time management and juggling numerous obligations at once. As any music major can tell you, few music majors have any spare time at all between classes, ensembles, productions, and performances. Unlike many people, I also feel that law school really prepared me for practice, both by teaching me substantive law (especially Civil Procedure and Evidence) and by teaching me how to write and think. My experience at my previous firm taught me about the business of the law, understanding and managing the expectations of a client and/or partner, the importance of keeping organized (especially your emails), and the importance of utilizing all of your resources to solve a problem. These are all important skills that I use every day as an associate at Porter Wright.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?

I think mentorship is essential for a lawyer’s personal and professional life. I am fortunate in that I have had numerous mentors in my career so far, and each of them have made a significant impact on me professionally and personally. Each of my mentors have taught me different lessons about the law and about life, all of which I have used at one time or another. But I think the most beneficial part of having a mentor is the comfort that comes with having someone with whom you can confidentially discuss the tough questions. I am fortunate to have numerous people who are there for me in that manner.

What is one must-read book for female business leaders?

“What Works for Women at Work: Four Patterns Working Women Need to Know” by Joan C. Williams and Rachel Dempsey. It really gives practical advice regarding how to handle the biases and hurdles that women face in the workplace.