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“Dewey Ballantine would pay for a $50-
$60 lunch to be delivered, as long as I didn’t
leave my desk,” she recalls, adding that it was
all part of keeping attorneys billing. It was a
world a young Schröder knew she didn’t want
to be part of long term.
“About six months into my life in New
York City, I thought to myself, ‘I wonder if
[Jaeckle Fleischmann] are still looking.’”
Soon after, the Manhattan skyline was in
the rearview mirror.
IT’S A THURSDA Y AFTERNOON AND
Schröder is seated behind her mammoth desk
on the second floor of a restored mansion that
sits in the shadows of the burgeoning medical
campus in downtown Buffalo.
The firm she founded with partner
Linda Joseph 15 years ago is going strong.
Schröder’s fingerprints are all over the
place, from Orion, the office cat who suns
himself on the conference table, to the
family-friendly flex scheduling her staff
enjoys. Schröder left Jaeckle in the mid-
1990s to join Buchanan Ingersoll, then got
the itch to strike out on her own.
“My partner, Linda, and I had started
[Buchanan’s] Buffalo office in 1995, and
we ran it for five years,” she says. “But the
economics of trying to run a Buffalo office
for an Am Law 100 law firm that wanted to
impose a significant cost structure on us,
that we would have to pass on to our clients,
ultimately led us to start our own firm.”
“We do things differently here,”
Schröder says. “We didn’t want to be
bound to the traditional ways that a law
firm worked.” Schröder points to what she
calls “inefficiencies” in the big law firms.
“Sometimes it’s expected that you show
up on Saturday mornings, even if you have
nothing to do, because they expect ‘face
time.’ That doesn’t make sense,” she says.
“It isn’t good for your work-life balance.”
Likewise, she encourages her staff to ditch
the stuffy suits in favor of jeans, and, if the
mood strikes you, to bring your dog to work.
Clients run the gamut from small
mom-and-pop stores to four of the top
10 Fortune 500 companies—one of which
employs more than a million people.
After 25 years of practice, Schröder
says her work approach has evolved. For
one, she can be more selective.
“I’m not going to do the work anymore that
I don’t like doing, and I’m not going to deal
with high-maintenance clients who aren’t
appreciative of the work I do for them,” she
says, “because at the end of the day, there is
something I’d actually like to be doing.”
“I think the diversity she brings to our firm
makes for incredible client relationships,”
her partner, Joseph, says. “I don’t know if
everyone could handle all of the things she
does, the way she does, but it works. She
engenders tremendous client loyalty.”
Schröder’s first client, Jill Bond, is still a
client. Bond, senior vice president, general
counsel at global food giant Rich Products
Corporation, often uses the firm to handle
management-side labor issues. She says
Schröder has “such a depth of knowledge. …
[She’s] a great person to bounce things off of.”
Bond adds that Schröder’s transition
to the country hasn’t diminished her
accessibility or effectiveness.
“It’s funny, I knew her when she lived in
the city and boasted about a six-minute
commute,” Bond says. “She is more balanced
and happy now than she has ever been.”
Finding that balance is key. In between