For as long as she can remember, Evann Derus has wanted to be a lawyer.
The Shorewood native has always enjoyed reading, writing, taking a position and arguing it. Her teachers took notice.
“From when I was 10, 11 years old, people were saying ‘You should be a lawyer,”’ Derus said.
As an undergraduate attending Wellesley College near Boston, Derus became convinced she’d attend law school after graduation. But an influential professor, who had been a corporate lawyer, urged her to think carefully about the time and effort it would take to pursue law as a career.
So after graduation, Derus returned to the Midwest and worked in donor relations at two colleges for several years. She always had a “gut feeling,” though, that a legal career would be a better fit.
So in 2013, Derus enrolled at Marquette University Law School.
Initially, she thought she’d want to practice estate planning or nonprofit work. An internship at Marcus Corp. gave her insight into the work of an in-house counsel, however. And in her second year of law school, she landed a summer position at Godfrey & Kahn, working with a team of lawyers that helped companies execute mergers and acquisitions.
“I didn’t have family that was in this type of law,” Derus said. “I didn’t have family in private equity or investment banking. I knew it existed, but I had no idea what it involved.”
Derus found helping companies execute such deals to be rewarding. And after the summer internship, she jumped at Godfrey & Kahn’s offer to practice in that field.
Derus has since taken on increasingly complex transactions both nationally and internationally for publicly traded companies, privately held firms and private-equity groups. She said she enjoys the collaborations that the work involves.
Derus said she has found that, although lawyers on the opposing sides of any giving case are of course always trying to get the best deals for their clients, they also have a stake in simply making sure a transaction gets done.
“The buyer wants to buy, and the seller wants to sell,” Derus said. “Of course, there are bumps in the road. But I really like that aspect of it. Even when you’re working with opposing counsel, you’re building to the same outcome.”