After practicing law for more than 10 years, Freya Bowen knows of a little advice she would love to have received in her first year.
“You have to make peace with being bossy or being perceived as being bossy,” Bowen laughed. “And you do need to force yourself to speak up in a meeting, in the office or just in general. If there’s an opportunity, something you would like to do, force yourself to say, ‘Hey, I’d like to take that deposition. I’d like to be involved with that case.’ That effort is not easy.”
But, she said, it’s worth it.
And it’s paying off.
“When I think of Freya, I think of someone who is very smart, very caring and generous and very able. She’s also very devoted to the community,” said Chris Pelkey, client relations administrator at Perkins Coie, where Freya has been practicing for three years.
“And one of the things I have learned from Freya is maybe you don’t necessarily need to make a decision between what is just your straight professional life and what is your passion,” Pelkey added. “There is a way to do both. There is an ability to follow both what your heart wants and what your head thinks is good for you.”
For Bowen, that meant earning a PhD in English, but then finding the courage to change course and abandon her plans to become a professor in order to pursue the law.
“From day one I knew I wanted to do commercial law,” said Bowen, who concentrated on commercial litigation before joining her firm’s insurance recovery and appellate practice groups. “It just goes back to the very earliest resolutions of civil dispute and contracts. It goes back to the earliest societies. I wanted to be part of that. And I wanted to do litigation because I like to write and I like to argue and I like to speak.”
Bowen also maintains a pro bono practice, which has led to her working on a case involving a death row inmate and another in which a woman challenged Wisconsin’s so-called “cocaine mom” law. A self-proclaimed animal lover and conservationist, Bowen also serves as a member of the executive committee of the Henry Vilas Zoological Society, which maintains a free-of-charge, not-for-profit zoo in Madison.
“It fulfills that desire for public service,” Bowen said. “And that’s a very important piece for me.”
Working with newcomers to the profession is also an important part of her practice.
“Hopefully, I leave it in a better place than I found it,” Bowen said.
Today’s new attorneys, she said, will be tomorrow’s bosses. “They’re going to be the big, important people when my kids are in the workforce,” she said, “so I want to make sure the people we’re bringing up are good.”