Court is her last resort

At Work

Carolyn W. Evans, attorney/partner, Sengstacke & Evans, Bel Air

December 14, 2008|By Nancy Jones-Bonbrest | Nancy Jones-Bonbrest,Special to The Baltimore Sun

Salary: $65,000

Age: 50

Years on the job: 16

How she got started: Evans began her career working as a legal secretary at Mercantile Bank and Trust. She decided to attend the College of Notre Dame of Maryland part time, earning a bachelor's degree in corporate finance. She later quit her job to attend law school at the University of Baltimore full time.

Evans' first job as an attorney was with Venable, Baetjer & Howard. She started her own law firm in 2001.

Typical day: Evans runs a broad-based civil practice, so she takes on many types of cases, including personal injury, general litigation, corporate work, estates and trusts, landlord-tenant issues and employment matters.

"I don't have a typical day. I don't have a typical week. I have a general practice, and my day is dependent upon the type of work I'm doing at that time," Evans says.

A daily workload could include drawing up an estate plan, conducting research for litigation, drafting discoveries or putting together a legal contract of sale. She also spends time meeting with clients. Evans often serves on local boards and with organizations, which involve regular meetings. She's currently the attorney for the Harford County Board of Elections and is on the board of Harford Bank.

Recently she has seen an increase in employment cases and landlord-tenant issues.

If a client comes to her for legal advice, she must first research the issue and analyze the situation to identify her client's strengths and weaknesses. She'll then advise whether to move forward. It's often about who has the stronger bargaining power, Evans said.

She doesn't advertise but rather gains clients through referrals. Evans estimates she has about 50 active files going at any given time.

Her fee: $165 an hour

Her favorite kind of work: Transactional corporate work and estate services

How often in court: "A lot of my litigation is paper-driven. Going to court, I consider that to not be a success. You try to resolve things before you go to court."

Biggest change in 16 years: Mobility. With cell phones, laptops and e-mail, Evans doesn't have to be at her desk at all times.

Legal advice: Try to work things out in a reasonable way. Most disputes do not have to be litigated.

The good: "The variety and flexibility. I don't do one thing all day long."

The bad: Juggling multiple assignments and commitments. Also, trying to convince clients their case isn't as strong as they might believe it to be.

Philosophy: Be thorough, responsive to clients and respectful.

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