If Carolyn Meade could go back to college, she’d return to the University of Virginia, her alma mater, and take an international seminar in Bangladesh, Panama or Argentina.
“I’d love the chance to travel and to integrate the liberal arts approach that marked my undergraduate days with the more outward-looking, business focus I have now,” she says.
Meade is an attorney on the Moore & Van Allen law firm’s investment team.
“Have you heard the one about the lawyer everybody loves?” she asks. “Yeah, me neither.”
She knows the lawyer jokes, but she doesn’t like them.
“Lawyers have a terrible reputation in society,” she says. “As a group we get a bad rap – and sometimes it’s deserved. My most significant personal accomplishment, however, is finding true win-wins, where all sides can, in fact, love their lawyers.”
Back in 1994, when Meade was in college, she made up her mind to pursue a career in public policy.
“I picked a Friday in the spring of my senior year when Congress was in session, put on my one suit and drove myself to Washington, D.C., with a sheaf of resumes,” she said. “I presented myself at the office doors of various legislators I admired, seeking a position as an assistant or legislative correspondent.”
She had hoped to get her foot in the door immediately after graduation and move up the ranks to a substantive job as fast as possible.
“While I was not successful on the first, or second, or third or 20th try, I remained positive,” she said.
A few weeks after her bold trip to Capitol Hill she landed a position there, lobbying with Jefferson Government Relations a few years before enrolling in law school.
As an attorney, she counts her work shepherding a corporate client through a Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and helping that corporation’s equity owners restructure the company’s governance, as her most significant professional accomplishment.
“Not only did we strike the balance and clear the judicial hurdles, the board retained us to provide advice in the months and years that followed,” Meade says. “This company remains profitable today. And those equity owners? They’re still speaking to one another and the CEO.”
For Meade, life is about balance.
“Balance is taking care of my body, and using and expanding my mind,” she says. “I don’t always get this right, because it is hard, but I am happiest and most effective when my body, my mind and my relationships are in balance.”
Meade finds this balance and her salvation in the gym.
“You’ll find me at the YMCA at 6 a.m., teaching or taking athletic conditioning or kickboxing classes, even after a conference call that didn’t wrap up until midnight the night before.”
“At the end of the day, I’d rather be tired but happy than rested and discontent,” she says.
And what makes her feel happy?
“A hot shower after a tough workout. Or on the less healthy side, Breyer’s mint chocolate chip ice cream.”