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It was a brick wall and a dose of midnight oil that brought Lyn Walker to Hartford, Conn.’s Day, Berry & Howard, where she blazed a part-time path to partnership. As a law student at the University of Virginia, Walker — a native of the tiny New York City suburb of Darien, Conn. — had a brief flirtation with Manhattan and big-firm practice. “I went to New York to interview [for a summer associateship], and I remember sitting in a partner’s office and looking out the window and seeing another brick wall, and that said a lot about what life would be like in New York,” she recalls. “Then I went to another firm and interviewed and got out at 8 p.m., and it might as well have been 9 in the morning [for all the activity in the office at that hour]. That too registered with me, and I realized that long-term, if I wanted to go somewhere and stay, that wouldn’t likely be it.” Armed with that harsh glimpse of big-city lawyering, Walker and her husband — another University of Virginia law student — “started looking in earnest at smaller cities where we would have a sophisticated practice,” Walker says. Eventually, they whittled their choices down to Portland, Ore., and Hartford, Conn. Preferring the law firms in Hartford, Walker and her husband headed north for the summer. When Walker returned to Day Berry after completing law school, she asked the firm’s hiring committee whether she could start out on a part-time basis. She explained that she wanted to care for her eldest child, who was born during her final year of law school. “They came back and said, ‘You can go part-time as long as you go full-time as soon as you’re able,’” Walker recalls. “I went full-time as soon as I was able — 21 years later.” That was when her youngest child went to college. The step away from the New York rat race did little to impede Walker’s career progress, even though she worked part-time for 21 years, moving to full-time status just last year. The first woman to sit on Day Berry’s five-person executive committee and the co-chair of a high-profile statewide charitable campaign, Walker, 49, has built a flourishing trusts and estates practice during her more than two decades of part-time work. “Lyn has superb technical skills, and not every lawyer who has great technical skills is able to combine them with great people skills. Lyn does, and does so admirably,” says Martin Wolman, Day Berry’s senior trusts and estates partner. “When you walk into Lyn’s office, you have a great sense of confidence that you’re in the hands of a superb technician and an understanding and caring human being who will be able to understand your needs and translate your wishes into the appropriate legal documents. She has converted those skills into a thriving practice, which has grown exponentially on superb lawyering, superb personal skills, and attention to client needs.” Walker’s reputation as a top-flight trusts and estates attorney extends well beyond Day Berry. In 1998, when the Connecticut Council of Philanthropy was looking for someone to head its Leave a Legacy Connecticut campaign, Walker was at the top of the list. “Her credibility as a professional was a huge attraction,” says council board member Maggie Willard. “On a scale of one to ten, she’s a ten.” When the council proposed the job to Walker, she jumped at it. Walker says that the organization’s goals — encouraging people to draft wills and leave bequests to charities — “instantly resonated with me as something I thought would be a very important public service.” A veteran of ugly legal battles following the deaths of people who died without wills, Walker notes that “people don’t like to talk about death and taxes. I’ve heard it said that Americans consider death optional, and I think we do live that way to a great extent.” Walker says that her role as co-chair is “primarily to be a spokesperson to promote the message and to engage nonprofit organizations in particular to recognize the importance [of legacies].” In the two years that Walker has headed the organization, more than 700 Connecticut nonprofits have signed up for the initiative, and new bequests have been established for charities around the state. Says Walker: “The idea behind Leave a Legacy Connecticut is to present a positive spin at a grassroots level on planning, taking control, and making a will to dispose of your property, provide for your children, and leave a legacy not only for your family but for something that mattered to you in your community.” So what about Walker’s legacy? Does she ever regret eschewing the brick walls and all-nighters of Manhattan for the life of a part-time lawyer in Connecticut? “As far as the decisions I made about working part-time and coming to Hartford and being at Day Berry, there’s nothing I would have done differently,” she says, leaning back and looking off into the distance with a half-smile. “It’s a very satisfying realization.” Am Law 200 Index

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