How I Practice-Nancy Thevenin

Nancy Thevenin
Nancy M. Thevenin, Esq., F.C.I.Arb
Thevenin Arbitration & ADR
New York

1. What are your areas of practice?
My practice includes international commercial and investment arbitration and international litigation and mediation, creditor’s rights and business torts. I serve as an arbitrator, sometimes mediator and teach the International Commercial Arbitration course at St. John’s Law School.

2. Describe a typical day for you?
I get up at around 6am and check emails to see if anything urgent came in between Midnight and 6 am. I work with parties from all over the world, so my email traffic is constant. If no urgent emails, I exercise for health and mental well being, get coffee and check my emails again at around 7:30 am/8:00 am. I’ve learned to carve out time in the morning to work on research and writing, submissions, papers or reports, and then respond to non-urgent emails. I usually have more than two conference calls a day, and spend the remaining hours following-up on matters discussed during those calls and respond to myriad requests until about 7 pm, then spend time with the family while keeping any eye on the emails until Midnight.

3. Where do you practice? Do you have a stand-alone office or home office?
I used to have a stand-alone office for meetings when needed, but found that I did not use it much. I mostly work from home when I am in the U.S. or wherever I happen to be when I travel – these days it’s been New York and different parts of Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean.

4. What is the most rewarding thing about having your own practice?
I enjoy the challenge of building a practice. I find it rewarding to create a plan for my business based on my goals and values, formulating a strategy to implement that plan and working hard to achieve my goals. 

5. What are some of the challenges about having your own practice?
The main challenge I’ve encountered is trying to do it all myself. I was fortunate to have acquired various skills from my past positions (from marketing and business development, to accounting and bookkeeping, to handling contentious matters from start to finish). While I find a lot of satisfaction in doing much of everything for myself (at least as a first step), I have gotten busier and appreciate the wisdom of hiring skilled professionals to help. Another challenge is the work-life balance. I enjoy my work, so much of it does not seem burdensome, but I did become aware that I am constantly on my laptop. 

6. What are your must-have tech tools/apps?
I rely heavily on Microsoft Outlook, an excellent laptop, portable WiFi (or MiFi), Skype and an excellent cellphone plan where I can be reached almost anywhere I travel.

7. How do you market your practice? How do you find new clients?
I rely on arbitral institutions appointing me as arbitrator and counsel for parties nominating me to serve as arbitrator. My “brand” are my accomplishments and abilities, so I keep abreast of legal developments and ensure I give 100% to any project I am asked to work on whether or not they are billable.

8. When and where do you interact with other attorneys?
I am fortunate in being invited to speak often, and  interact with other attorneys at various conferences and through my activities as a leader in various legal associations, including NYSBA’s International Section.

9. How do you stay informed with legal news/developments?
I have signed up for topical alerts that are provided by several law firms and other legal organizations such as Law360 and Thomson Reuter’s Practical Law. I also rely on the various publications offered by the different NYSBA Sections.

10. If a fellow attorney decided they wanted to start their own practice, what is the one thing they should know?
Save enough in living expenses for the first 2-3 years as it takes time to build a practice.