Adams and Reese LLP
Mergers and Acquisitions,
Corporate Securities and Banking
Virginia Boulet wanted to be a lawyer for as long as she can remember. “I always knew I’d be a lawyer,” she says. “I always saw great lawyers and wanted to be a great lawyer. I wanted to be [To Kill a Mockingbird’s] Atticus Finch.”
While her career hasn’t involved many Radleys or Ewells, it’s still quite distinctive in its own right. Boulet grew up in Larose on Bayou LaFourche, where she experienced an early brush with the law when she was detained for refusing to leave a restaurant that wouldn’t serve her black companion. She attended Yale University as an undergraduate, one of the first classes of women admitted to the school, and graduated in 1975. Thereafter she joined the Peace Corps for a three-year term of service, and also did work for Catholic Charities, working in particular with Vietnamese expatriates.
Eventually, Boulet found her way to New Orleans, where she attended Tulane University Law School. “I always wanted to live in the big city,” she recalls. And now she does. After finishing law school with honors in 1983, Boulet began her legal career at Jones Walker, where she worked for nine years. At Jones Walker she learned from Andy Correro, whom she credits as being “absolutely the greatest corporate lawyer the state has ever seen. You can’t replace a situation like that, where you’re learning from a master.”
Boulet now works for Adams and Reese LLP, specializing in corporate securities and banking – and loves every minute of it. “Every day I do different things,” she beams. “I’m always trying to figure out how to get deals done.” As counsel for nascent corporations, Boulet witnesses the births of new businesses. “People with new and growing companies, the future is their oyster. People are excited to buy and sell their companies. I’m present for the biggest day in business-people’s lives, the day they go public or sell their company or buy a company.”
Recent tough economic times have put pressure on Boulet’s practice. “Times like these, when credit is tight, it’s hard to get things done,” Boulet muses. “Most business-people can run a business well, but not run a transaction. Most of them don’t have the patience to go through with deals that take a long time.” It is up to Boulet and her firm to take the long view and perform the “hard work that people may not see when the cameras are flashing.”
When those cameras aren’t flashing, Boulet is working hard on getting her clients what they seek, and also making her clients feel comfortable. “Clients are choosing a lawyer to do a significant transaction for their company or family,” she says.
“Companies look to people who are comfortable and competent enough to be trusted.” That trust serves as the foundation for all of Boulet’s business relationships, and she takes it to heart. “When my clients have a mission to accomplish, that’s really important to me, and I take it home with me.”
And Boulet doesn’t just talk the talk—she walks the corporate walk. She serves on the board of two New York Stock Exchange-traded companies. The first, Centurytel Inc, is a communications and Internet provider operating in 25 states. The second, W&T Offshore Inc, is an oil and gas company that operates primarily on the Gulf Coast.
Boulet is also active in the political arena. She ran for mayor against Ray Nagin in 2006, and was later appointed by Nagin to lead the financial subcommittee of the Bring New Orleans Back Commission. (She also may be eyeing running for a city council at large seat.) Boulet was a founder of Louisiana for Obama. “I believe in jobs,” she says of her personal and professional politics. “I’m happiest when I’m helping companies grow and expand the job base in Louisiana and Mississippi, and I hope to expand the quantity and quality of jobs.”
When Boulet isn’t building companies, sitting on boards, teaching securities law at Loyola University Law School or campaigning, she likes to wind down by spending time with her four children, one of whom is a professional, two of whom are students (one at the University of Colorado at Boulder and the other at Tulane University), and one of whom is 9 years old. She especially likes traveling back to Larose with her children and letting them spend some of their childhood in the country, where she spent hers.
The Best Defense
Glass & Reed
Robert Glass never had a doubt, reasonable or otherwise, that he would become a lawyer. He debated proudly as a child and a student, and always aspired to use the power of his words to present compelling arguments as an attorney.
Glass didn’t necessarily need any encouragement in his pursuit of a career in the law, but while at law school at the University of Pennsylvania, where he served as research editor for the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, he was reinforced in his conviction by Professor Anthony Amsterdam. “He inspired my dedication,” says Glass, “and he inspired my going into criminal defense law and my belief in the importance of the fight.”
Glass came to New Orleans in 1968, after earning his bachelor’s degree and juris doctorate – both with honors – from the University of Pennsylvania. He had originally planned to stay only for a year, working with Community Legal Services. During his term of service in the Crescent City, he helped to represent several members of the New Orleans branch of the Black Panthers Party who had been involved in a shoot-out with officers of the New Orleans Police Department. Glass stayed on to continue his representation of the defendants and never returned to Philadelphia.
Now, as a partner at Glass & Reed, Glass is a trial lawyer specializing in white-collar criminal defense at the state, federal and appellate levels. Ideals of justice and the absolute necessity of the law are the driving forces behind Glass’ career. Since coming to New Orleans 40 years ago, Glass has found plenty of opportunities to earn acquittals for his clients and to “moderate the full power of the law against a client so that an equitable result is reached.” Glass has even been given the opportunity to flex his legal muscles in such high-profile cases as the investigation into former Governor Edwin Edwards – during which he defended a Terrebonne Parish district attorney against whom U.S. Prosecutor Eddie Jordan Jr. sought a perjury conviction based on the district attorney’s choice of words.
Just as Professor Amsterdam taught, Glass believes that criminal defense is an uphill battle. “The defendant always comes in at a disadvantage,” says Glass. “The challenging thing is that you’re always starting from behind, and the real work is to catch up.” The cases that come across Glass’ desk have already been investigated, either by the police, the prosecution or both. Besides having the first crack at the evidence, the prosecution also gets to take the first round with pertinent witnesses.
By the time Glass’ firm is brought onto a case, the case might be two or three years old. Witnesses move or die or simply let their memories fall prey to time. On top of being at a disadvantage in terms of time, defense attorneys also don’t share the ample resources that prosecutors have at their disposal – so, despite the burden of proof lying with the prosecution, defense attorneys also have their work cut out for them.
The weight of placing one’s future in an attorney’s hands carries some emotional undercurrents as well. “The relationship is larger than the case,” Glass says of his clients, “and usually outlasts the case.” Tough times notwithstanding, Glass declares that “each client deserves the dedication and the amount of work that the case requires, regardless of whether or not they end up being able to pay.”
In the wake of recent natural disasters, Glass has enjoyed the Pyrrhic luxury of not being overwhelmed with more cases. Always busy with his specialty of criminal defense, Glass hasn’t had the opportunity to branch out into insurance or poverty cases.
Glass remains active in the political arena, lobbying the legislature for or against various criminal laws, as he deems appropriate. He also serves on the faculty of the National Criminal Defense College in Macon, Ga., a teaching institute designed to hone the skills of trial lawyers. During his career he has received the American Jurisprudence Book Award in Criminal Law.
Glass is passionate about his career; he enjoys spending a great deal of time at work. Although his wife passed away in February, Glass has two grandchildren in New Orleans, ages 6 and 9, who demand most of his time away from the office. He also enjoys reading and traveling when he gets the opportunity.
William H. Hines
Jones, Walker, Waechter, Poitevent, Carrère & Denègre
General Corporate Law, Mergers & Acquisitions
Bill Hines is a native son of New Orleans, close to the heart of Tiger Country – but he was a Princeton Tiger as an undergraduate at Princeton University.
At Princeton, Hines attended the Woodrow Wilson School of International Affairs. It was there that he was exposed to the legal aspects of international politics and economics. That exposure fueled a desire within him to focus his future as an attorney towards establishing a practice that would focus on international transactions. After graduating from Princeton in 1968, Hines went on to law school at the University of Virginia, where he received his juris doctorate in 1972.
Although his concept for an international transaction practice was still rather nebulous, he wanted to practice in his native New Orleans but was worried about moving away from the hubs of law firms that dealt with international transactions, specifically New York City and Washington D.C.
Luckily, Hines was able to find a firm in New Orleans that matched his aspirations, and he began his career at Jones, Walker Waechter, Poitevent, Carrère & Denègre, where he worked very closely under the late George Denègre. “He was the partner I worked the most with; he really helped bring my career along.” Now the managing partner of the firm, Hines has to divide his time between orchestrating the complex transactions about which he is so passionate and managing the practice where he has spent his career. His firm is the largest in the state, and has 11 regional offices nationwide.
“I’ve always liked the business aspect of law…to create things. Some people find it boring and would rather try a case, but I’d much rather help someone create a business or buy a business,” says Hines of his career. “I love seeing positive things getting done, seeing things be built or created, bought and sold, new businesses being started; that to me is very rewarding.”
While the workday aspect of Hines’ practice is the direct fulfillment of his life’s ambition, it is the managerial aspect of his practice that provides the most diversity in the allocation of his time. “As managing partner of the firm, one of my jobs is to have a lot of client interaction, to make sure they’re being properly served. It’s something I enjoy doing, but I’m responsible for making sure the leaders of our clients are kept happy,” says Hines. Keeping his clients happy means traveling between all 11 offices of Jones, Walker et al and putting in hours upon billable hours of face time with the firm’s many corporate clients.
Hines’ real enjoyment – and challenge – is performing the international transactions of which he first dreamed at Princeton. “I’ve done a lot of work outside the States,” he says. “I’d say managing your practice while juggling large and small transactions, that’s pretty challenging.”
Outside the mainstream work of his firm, Hines is involved in several legal proceedings in the civic sector of New Orleans. First and foremost he provides pro bono legal assistance in the biomedical industry, as well as the port and maritime industry. He also works with several economic development-related projects such as Idea Village, a nonprofit dedicated to spreading entrepreneurship in New Orleans and Broadway South, a stimulus initiative to spur job growth and tourism by bringing more theatrical productions to New Orleans. Hines has also served on the Greater New Orleans Regional Chamber of Commerce, both as a member of the Executive Committee and as chairman of MetroVision.
“Lawyers are professionals,” Hines says of his life and work. “You need to be smart and work hard, but then the intangibles are that you have to provide real good client service. You have to be very responsive and have good interpersonal skills.”
Hines has also been able to wed his legal prowess to his personal life. He is an outspoken Saints and Hornets fan, and as such was thrilled to help bring the Hornets to New Orleans for the first time and also to help move them back to New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. When he’s not cheering the Saints or representing the Hornets, he enjoys hunting and fishing across the Sportsman’s Paradise, as well as spending time with his wife and three children.
The Families’ Man
Steven J. Lane
Herman, Herman, Katz & Cotlar
Steven Lane might be the man to put an end to lawyer jokes. “Growing up, I always had a tendency to want to help other people if I saw that they were being wronged – it’s just the way that I was brought up,” he says of the nascent stages of his legal aspirations. “When I graduated from law school, I wanted to practice in an area where I had direct contact with people.” Lane is now the managing partner of Herman, Herman, Katz & Cotlar, and acts as the firm’s specialist in family law.
Lane is a native of New York, and attended the State University of New York at Buffalo. After he received his bachelor’s degree in 1977, he moved on to Loyola University Law School in New Orleans. In his third year, he obtained a clerkship under partner Russ Herman, who still practices with Lane to this day. Upon receiving his juris doctorate, Lane went to work as a professional with Herman’s firm, and remained under Herman’s tutelage. “He groomed me as an attorney during the first five years I was practicing,” Lane says of Herman. “After five years of working with him he sent me off on my own.” But that is not to say that Herman left him high and dry. “It’s invaluable to have somebody like that,” Lane continues.
“I still, to this day, occasionally walk into his office when I have a question.”
And it’s people with tough questions and tough situations that comprise the majority of Lane’s clients. Lane handles divorce, custody and child support cases, and all sorts of family-related issues besides. “In a lot of cases it’s women who can’t work or haven’t worked in a long time,” says Lane. “Essentially what I’ve been doing is trying to solve people’s problems.”
Difficult though the work may be, the necessity of Lane’s profession is undeniable. “You have a positive effect on individuals, on mothers and fathers, and for generations to come. If you get the right custody result and a child is able to come out of a divorce emotionally intact, you will find that 10 or 20 years later that individual himself has a family that is intact.” Decades after working cases, Lane’s clients will continue to send him thankful notes and e-mails.
The biggest obstacle to practicing the kind of law that Lane does is the difficulty of maintaining a professional distance. “You’re dealing with people who, when they come to you, you are seeing them at their worst. They are damaged,” Lane ruminates. “They’re looking to you to be not only their lawyer, but their therapist sometimes as well.”
Lane embraces the challenge of being both legal and personal counselor, but not at the risk of hurting the chances of obtaining the best possible settlement for his clients. “You have to maintain a distance with a client; you can’t allow yourself to get emotionally involved because you lose perspective and can’t do your job. …I have to be able to tell a client that they are making a mistake or an incorrect decision.”
Sadly, irreconcilable family disputes have been on the rise in recent years. “There’s definitely been an upsurge since [Hurricane] Katrina,” says Lane. “Marriages that might have ordinarily survived, Katrina was essentially a factor that pushed some people over the edge.”
Lane models his legal efforts after the founding principles of his firm – honesty, both with his clients and his opposing legal counsel; integrity, by keeping his word with his clients and with the courts; and excellence, which has been recognized in Lane’s case by Lawdragon Magazine and an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell.
Besides practicing family law, Lane also acts as legal counsel to the New Orleans City Council. He has helped the Council deal with issues of crime cameras and open meetings.
Lane’s mother still lives in New York, and he has a daughter, 19, at Boston University. In his free time he collects vintage and retro furniture and records from the 1960s and ’70s. He designed the interior of his ranch house in Lakeview to be a period piece unto itself. “If you were to walk inside,” he says, “you would think that you were on The Dick Van Dyke Show.”