Women's Leadership InitiativeQ&A with Emily Taylor

Emily is a litigation associate in the firm’s Columbus office where she concentrates her practice on environmental litigation.

Describe a pivotal moment that influenced your career path.

In undergraduate school at Indiana University, I majored in English and Communications and Culture. My plan, so I thought at the time, was to head on to graduate school to get a Master’s Degree in Education, hopefully to one day work in curriculum writing and policy reformation surrounding educational programming, specifically on environmental and agricultural subject matters. Upon finishing my final paper for the very last class of the very last semester of my undergraduate career, I had one last conversation with a professor in the education department who had become a mentor to me throughout my final year at Indiana. He very candidly asked me (and I’m sure I’m paraphrasing here), “Emily, this is for you to decide: would you rather teach the world about its problems and leave it for someone else to fix them, or would you rather try to fix them yourself?” He for the first time clearly presented me with the opportunity to seriously assess in which of these two very important groups my personality and skills really aligned. I went home that night and gathered all my closest friends around the kitchen table and mapped out every possible career path I could take after graduation, coupled with an intensely lengthy pros and cons list. Thanks to their patience and the support from my parents (and some divine guidance), I saw that becoming an attorney would allow me to effect the kind of change I hoped to achieve in my career in a much more tangible way than my previous plan. I am so glad I chose the path I did; even as a very new attorney, I have been amazed by the rewarding opportunities and experiences that I have been a part of throughout law school and in practice so far.

What is the best advice you’ve received about how to be a successful attorney?

The absolute best advice I’ve received about how to be a successful attorney is to listen, not just to hear, but to understand. This surely applies to working with clients, as it helps me determine what the client actually desires to accomplish beyond the work product they have requested, which allows me to more efficiently help them reach their ultimate goals. This advice also applies, however, to working with my peers. I find the more I listen to understand the entire scope of the issues beyond my own small piece of the puzzle, the more I can anticipate what may be coming next and can better invest my time and energies where I know it matters most.

Tell us about your favorite thing to do outside of work.

My favorite thing to do outside of work (when the weather allows) is go camping. My fiancé and I spent two weeks last summer touring National Parks out west, including the Grand Canyon, King’s Canyon and Death Valley to name a few. I love exploring new parks, hiking, and making coffee and s’mores over the campfire (pro-tip: replace the traditional Hershey bar with a Reese peanut butter cup). When the weather is chillier, I like to bake and play guitar, and I love to enjoy a good Stout!

Complete the sentence: “If I wasn’t an attorney, I would be a…”

I would probably have a number of jobs. I grew up dancing all my life all the way through college and even choreographed quite a bit during my high school and college careers, so I can definitely imagine myself as a dance teacher. I also worked on a dude ranch for a number of summers in college and interned with a small historical society. Therefore I could also easily see myself as a park ranger or a museum curator, likely developing community educational programming.

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

Mentorship in my professional life has been a great blessing as I’ve started working here at Porter Wright, and I am lucky enough to have two official mentors and numerous unofficial ones. These relationships allow me to ask practical questions about relational dynamics, allowing me to avoid missteps and navigate my work life much more smoothly than if I were forced to go it alone. Mentorship in my personal life has been crucial as well. At both Indiana and Vanderbilt University I was lucky enough to have professors who took a real interest in my development not only as a student, but as a person. Those relationships allowed me to remain well-balanced as I made my journey through the past eight years of my life, helping me navigate the ever-so-delicate balancing act of faith, family, friends, health and career.