Anne Richard on Lobstering and Lawyering

Noodle Expert Anne Richard talks to us about the beauty and gravity of visiting Normandy, what she'd like to learn from lobstermen in Maine, and why she's okay with quitting an accounting class.

Who would you pick, alive or dead, to be your teacher for a year? What would you want to learn?

I have been blessed in that I have been taught by some of the best professors in the world, having earned my bachelor's and master's degrees at Boston College and my law degree at Yale Law School.

At this stage in my life, I would like to spend a year with a Maine lobsterman, learning everything there is to know about fishing for lobster: how to do the actual fishing, to how to maintain a lobster boat and all of the equipment on board, to working successfully within the regulatory structure in which lobstermen must operate, to getting a catch to market, to the conservation efforts in which they participate to ensure future supply. A year with a Maine lobsterman would allow me to do something entirely different from anything I have ever done and to experience a new way of life. I have always loved the Maine coast and the ocean. I would relish the opportunity to step outside the professional, white-collar world in which I have had my career and to open my eyes to the unique life a Maine lobsterman leads, depending upon natural resources to earn his living.

What is one small piece of advice that has had a big impact on your life?

"Treat others as you wish to be treated." I believe this has made me a more considerate, generous, and compassionate person.

Where would you send a student who hasn't traveled before?

I would send a student who seeks a unique experience to Normandy (in France). My father served in the army during World War II and landed at Normandy. When he was 70 years old, he and I took a trip to Europe and retraced his steps through France, Belgium, and Germany. Normandy is not only a magnificently beautiful place geographically, but also is home to an amazing lesson in U.S. and European history, as well as in human sacrifice, suffering, service, and courage.

When was a time that you failed academically, and what did you learn from the experience?

I was simply unable to grasp concepts of accounting when I took an "Accounting for Lawyers" class in law school. This came as quite a surprise to me since, prior to entering law school, I had done a great deal of high-level mathematics in my graduate program in economics. I had never dropped a class, but I decided to drop this one. It was taking too much time from my other courses, as well as from a clinical program in which I was involved. Much as I did not want to be a "quitter," I did my cost/benefit analysis. I realized that, given I was not planning to go into a corporate/business transactional practice, my time would be better spent on my other courses. The benefit of spending an inordinate amount of time struggling through accounting would be minimal or, perhaps, even negative. From this experience I learned that it is important to know yourself and to have the confidence in your judgment to step away from something when it is not the right thing for you.

Why did you go into your field, and how is it different from what you expected?

From the time I was a young child, I had wanted to become a lawyer. My vision always was to be in the courtroom. Upon earning my law degree, I joined a litigation practice. It was pretty much what I had hoped it would be. I thoroughly enjoyed the intellectual challenges of working on cases involving a wide array of legal issues, from employment discrimination to commercial loan defaults and bankruptcy matters. I loved being in court representing clients, including representing the United States during the time I worked as a trial attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice. I left the practice in 1997 to enter higher education administration. I made that move because I wanted new challenges and different types of rewards. As dean of admissions at three law schools, I loved working with applicants and students as they were embarking upon their legal careers. Since May 2014, I have been working as an independent educational consultant and continue to enjoy working with individuals as they explore different career options; investigate colleges, graduate schools, and professional schools; and work to put together the strongest applications possible. Each of my jobs has been great. I have no complaints. I have looked forward to getting up and going to work each and every day.

Article Topics: