Nora Gierke, Gierke Frank LLC
Law degree received from: Duke University, 1998
Nora Gierke’s days rarely are the same.
As managing partner of her law firm, she may find herself representing a Fortune 500 company in a complex dispute one day and a domestic violence abuse victim the next day.
Gierke said the freedom to decide what cases to accept and what to charge was the main reason she formed Gierke Frank LLC with her partner, David Frank, earlier this year.
“I had a vision of how I wanted to practice law, and I wanted to be in control of my own destiny,” she said. “I love the idea of variety and getting to decide what I work on.”
Frank said Gierke’s determination to carve her own path is integral to her success.
“Nora never accepted that she had to choose between a robust legal career and a fulfilling home life,” said Frank, who met Gierke when they worked at Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren SC. “She dealt with the difficulties of raising a family and pushed hard to make changes in the traditional law firm approach to women lawyers.”
Gierke credits her husband, John, who is a stay-at-home dad, for helping her achieve her goals. “When I started out, I saw that the real successful male attorneys with families all had strong support systems at home, and I knew I needed to have that, too,” she said. “We talked about it when we were younger, and John was on board with staying home after we had children.”
Gierke said starting a firm appealed to her despite the financial risk, and, so far, business is going well. Some of her previous clients moved with her, so she still works on some of the same projects.
The real motivation to starting her firm was that she wanted to be in charge, Gierke said.
“I took a look at where my career was going,” she said, “and I could see that in the framework of a large firm that I wouldn’t be the one making decisions, and I wanted that freedom.”
Gierke Frank is an all-litigation boutique firm, something she said will set it apart.
“Throughout this experience,” Gierke said, “we’ve met with lawyers who went off on their own, and they advised us to not accept everything that comes through the door.
“You need to stay focused on your end goal.”