We continue our series on Junior League of New Orleans (JLNO) members who are making strides in prominent leadership roles within our community.
In this issue, we are spotlighting several influential women in the legal field. We asked for their insight on how they got where they are today, what their advice would be to others and how the League has empowered them to achieve their goals. Here’s what they had to say.
Michelle D. Craig
Managing Attorney, Transcendent Law Group
Hard-work, prayer, great mentors and failing forward have defined my journey. I believe in God, and I believe in hindsight we can see how things in our past worked together for our good. I previously worked at two well-respected regional firms with offices in Baton Rouge and Houston, gaining an incredible work ethic along the way. They also taught me habits, processes and routines I now use every day. Every single lesson I learned there is helping me make Transcendent Law Group a success. I didn’t realize it at the time, but their hardnose way of handling young associates helped me build a tough skin and backbone that my clients appreciate and that I need to survive the ups and downs of being an entrepreneur.
I started my firm in October 2014. By February 2016, I was splitting from my Partner. It was frightening because owning a firm by myself was never part of the plan, but five years later, it’s still here. Looking back, the firm I have now could only have existed if other things didn’t work out. The obstacles made me hustle harder; they made me think more creatively; they made me a better business advisor; they made me look at not only the legal circumstances, but the totality of other circumstances that affect the decisions of business owners. Ultimately, all of it made me a better lawyer. I am a different person today, but all the obstacles shaped me and formed the foundation of who I am now.
The obstacles made me hustle harder; they made me think more creatively; they made me a better business advisor; they made me look at not only the legal circumstances, but the totality of other circumstances that affect the decisions of business owners.
In order to succeed, mentors matter. Find women who have done what you want to do and reach out to them. A good mentor is a blessing. As a mentee, find a way to return the favor. Don’t be a taker. Find a way to be a giver in their lives. Friendship, love, business relationships, professional relationships, climbing the ladder of success, obtaining some private goal — it all involves reciprocity. This should not change when it comes to mentor/mentee relationships. Every moment of every day of everyone’s life is immensely valuable. If we did not know that before, we know that now. Few people will spend time with you if you don’t seem genuinely engaged, interested and appreciative. If you don’t feel that in your interactions with them, then don’t waste your time or theirs.
So many women in JLNO are doing amazing things. It’s heart-warming and inspiring to see so many women dedicating themselves to making this community better. The League has women from all walks of life sharing knowledge, networking, starting businesses, raising families and reminding each other that we have more than one purpose on this Earth. JLNO projects are changing lives and making lasting impact. As a writer for Lagniappe, I had the pleasure of researching some of those projects. They have all made a lasting impact on this community. I am inspired by members of the League that I meet. That inspiration makes me work harder to be a contributor to the community. It also makes me more cognizant of the responsibility we all have to ensure our leaders are making the best decisions for women and children in this community.
Jennifer Zeringue Rosenbach
Assistant District Attorney, Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office
I went into law school wanting to practice environmental law since my undergraduate degree is in Environmental Management Systems. While in law school, I never focused on criminal law and only took the required classes. But when you get out of school, you take the job that fits best at the time. Based on that, I clerked for a judge in a small rural community in Southwest Louisiana. I then did medical malpractice defense for a brief period and ended up clerking for a judge again. In both my clerkships, I realized I enjoyed the criminal cases more than civil law. With that in mind, I applied for a job as an Assistant District Attorney. Suddenly, this field I never thought I was interested in became my entire life.
The lesson here is to not be afraid of trying something that you had not considered before. You might just find the place that you are meant to be.
I cannot imagine not being a prosecutor. The ability to help victims of crime is paramount to what I do and brings such joy to my life. The lesson here is to not be afraid of trying something that you had not considered before. You might just find the place that you are meant to be.
Junior League has taught me so very much, from our relationships with community partners to in-League interactions, I have had the opportunity to work with people from such different backgrounds, which is exactly what I am doing now as a screening prosecutor. In addition, the way the League manages meetings and events has shaped how I handle things throughout other aspects of my life. Whether it is a meeting at my child’s school or meeting with a victim of a crime, JLNO has influenced how I speak with people and, more importantly, how I listen and hear what I need to hear.
Attorney at Law, Teamer Legal Corp. LLC
Openness and a variety of experience brought me where I am today. When I graduated from law school, l deferred taking the bar exam for the opportunity to work as the Spokesperson for Senator Mary Landrieu’s re-election campaign. Working for Senator Landrieu was an awesome opportunity, and it allowed me to make long lasting relationships, travel the state and feel confident as a communications professional. All my experiences have worked that way, giving me a chance to learn from them and gain knowledge to continue to succeed in the future.
Women should really focus on two things: opportunity and preparation. In my career, I have focused on being prepared for opportunities when they present themselves. I knew that I wanted to be an attorney but also wanted to work in politics, but I was not quite sure how to do them both at the same time. Before I went to law school, I worked in Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s office. When I graduated from Tulane Law School, I contacted an attorney I worked for at the City Attorney’s office in New Orleans and started to work for him.
Women should really focus on two things: opportunity and preparation. In my career, I have focused on being prepared for opportunities when they present themselves.
After a few months, I ran into a consultant I knew from my time in the Mayor’s Office who runs a political consulting firm. They agreed to take me under their wing and let me work on some campaign consulting projects. At that time, I also started to work in my own law practice, as I had gained valuable experience from my work with my legal mentor in his firm. After a while, I was able to meld my two passions together in Teamer Legal Corporation LLC and Radius Strategy Group LLC. I had the right credentials and experience (preparation) at the right time (opportunity), and that is how I have been able to be successful.
The Junior League has benefited my success by giving me an opportunity to work and serve the community with like-minded women. Throughout my career, I have worked with numerous political and community campaigns. All the organizations and candidates I’ve worked with had one of the same goals that JLNO has — to educate and empower women with information and provide them a better, healthier future.