Jayne Sykora had no idea she was being so brave. After graduating from law school in 2009, Sykora and her law partner, Jen Santini, started their own firm, Sykora & Santini. Fellow attorneys commended them for taking a risk at the height of the financial crisis. “At the time we didn’t understand what that meant because we didn’t have much of a legitimate choice,” said Sykora. The risk paid off. Their firm is now coming up on its seventh anniversary.
This success did not happen instantly. Sykora and Santini took a methodical approach to building their practice. And it wasn’t always glamorous. They forced themselves to do the banal parts of building a practice, like writing a business plan. “I remember that being really painful at the time, but what else did we have to do?” said Sykora. “I think that helped. Since we have been a partnership from the get-go, it forced us to articulate and write down what it is that we want and what we are looking for as our practice has grown.”
Attending law school in Nebraska put Sykora in a different position than most of the law school graduates in the Twin Cities. Volunteering with the Hennepin County Bar Association gave Sykora the connections that may come easier for Twin Cities law school grads. “The connections that we've made and the opportunities that we've been given would never have happened if not for our involvement in the bar association. I think also just understanding how the legal community works is really helpful,” she said.
Getting involved with the HCBA also gave Sykora some convenient opportunities to market herself and her skills. Through her work as the New Lawyers Section social director, she helped develop the HCBA sponsorship program. “Other attorneys said that they had seen my involvement and wanted us to continue. I think that helped kind of build our reputations even though people didn't know what we would do legally,” she said. After serving for three years with the New Lawyers Section, Sykora now serves on the Hennepin County Bar Foundation board of directors.
The connections have translated into business success. “Our involvement in the bar association has been really great for the growth of our business and the growth of our reputations as a whole,” said Sykora.
Sykora recommends that new attorneys put themselves in a position to be successful, “If you just chalk it up to be like ‘Oh bar association dues are so expensive’ you're just not taking advantage of what there is here to learn and benefit from and to make really great connections that are going to be helpful in your practice.”