Women's Leadership InitiativeQ&A with Megan West

Megan is in the firm’s Corporate Department and counsels clients on a wide range of corporate and business matters, including mergers and acquisitions, business development and operation, corporate securities, real estate, commercial and retail leasing, and wireless telecommunications.

Describe a pivotal moment that influenced your career path.

I was always extremely close to my grandmother (although she would have cringed to hear me use the “G” word), who began an employee benefits brokerage company in Dayton, Ohio in the 1980s. She was such a hardworking woman and dedicated her life to the success of her business. In late 2008, however, she was diagnosed with cancer and was suddenly faced with the need to prepare a succession plan for her business. Because of the limited time available, her attorneys actually came to the hospital several times to work out the final details of the buy-out and succession plan. That is where I really began to understand the human side of the legal profession and the importance of building and maintaining relationships with clients. Regardless of whether your client is a corporation or an individual, you are working with other human beings and helping solve their problems. In my grandmother’s case, she needed estate and succession planning advice, but what she really wanted was to make sure her business continued to succeed even after she was gone. I think her attorneys recognized that and they worked together with her to get her affairs in order as quickly as they could. It was not an easy time for anyone, but their efforts made a difficult time just a little easier for her and our family. I try to remember the significance of that experience and do my best to help all of my clients—big and small—solve their problems.

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

The best advice I have received about how to be a successful attorney is simple: listen, be responsive, and know your client. Attorneys often get a bad reputation for being unresponsive or unavailable, so I always try to respond the same day to a client’s call or email—even if it is only to confirm that I have received and am working on their request. Obviously it is important to know your client and their business, but I also think it is equally important to know who you are communicating with in order to tailor your communications to that individual. For example, if you are speaking with a non-lawyer who does not have much experience dealing with attorneys, don’t use legal jargon, be concise, and understand that they may be apprehensive about working with a lawyer.

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

Prior to joining Porter Wright, I served as in-house counsel to DSW, Inc. and I believe it was the perfect stepping stone from law school to private practice. Not many attorneys have the opportunity to start off in house, so I will forever be grateful to Ohio State for creating the corporate fellowship program and to DSW for jumping at the opportunity to support the fellowship program from the very beginning. My experience at DSW was a great introduction to private practice because I was given the opportunity to understand the significance of a client’s business needs from an insider’s perspective. By gaining this exposure so early in my career, it has given me a solid foundation on which to grow as an attorney.

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

I honestly love being outside more than anything in the world. Whether I am going for a run, sitting on my patio reading a book, or taking my dog for walks around German Village, I am just happy to have the sun shining down.

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

Stay-at-home dog mom. But if, as I am told, that is not a realistic, income-producing alternative career path, I would want to open my own flower shop and design flower bouquets and centerpieces. When I originally applied to college, I had my heart set on pursuing a double major in floral design and horticulture. Of course, I ended up with a double major in history and political science, but I can’t help but feel a little pang of jealousy at local entrepreneurs who have successfully created hip, modern flower shop concepts. Since I can’t have it all, I satisfy myself each spring by planting more flowers than my tiny yard can support.