Kathryn Westfall sees a few similarities between the time she spent playing NCAA Division I soccer while attending Harvard University and the work she has done in corporate law at Reinhart Boerner Van Dueren.
“It is all about the preparation,” Westfall said. “In soccer, you practice to get ready for the game and in law, you conduct research, form your arguments and other preparatory work before you have your big meetings or phone calls where you’re conducting negotiations. A lot can go wrong if you are not prepared.”
Along with the advantages of being prepared, playing soccer taught Westfall about the importance of trusting your teammates.
“In soccer, you need confidence in your teammates that, when you pass them the ball, that they’ll make a good move,” she said. “Now, as I hand off work, whether it is to another attorney or support staff, I have to trust their abilities to get the job done.”
At Reinhart, Westfall handles complex transactional and financing matters for publicly owned and private companies. The work requires plenty of preparation and business acumen, something she learned while earning her master’s degree in business administration and later working as director of finance for the Chicago Red Stars professional women’s soccer team.
It was her experience with the Red Stars that persuaded Westfall to get her law degree.
“When I was with the Red Stars, I found the stuff I was interested in and fascinated about was being handled by a corporate attorney,” Westfall said. “I wanted to be in there when contracts and sponsorships were being negotiated.”
Westfall’s business background helps her to easily read and understand financial statements and “talk the language of business,” she said. “I kind of fell into earning my MBA. I was coaching at Mercer University, and they offered me a graduate assistant position and business seemed like a good choice. It turns out I just loved it.”
About half of Westfall’s work involves private-equity firms. The other half centers on helping emerging businesses and entrepreneurs with entity formation and organization.
“I have found my business background to be immensely helpful,” she said. “Many of the projects I am working on are very complicated and sophisticated.”
Sara Stellpflug Rapkin, a fellow associate attorney at Reinhart, said Westfall’s communication style has made her a trusted adviser to her clients.
“Kate takes a down-to earth, real-world approach to advising her clients,” Westfall said. “She gets to know her clients personally and enjoys learning about their businesses so she can give practical advice – both technical legal advice as well as meaningful business advice.”