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Alyssa Hirschfeld mentors younger women in Gray Plant Mooty’s M&A practice group. (Submitted photo)
Alyssa Hirschfeld mentors younger women in Gray Plant Mooty’s M&A practice group. (Submitted photo)

Breaking the Ice: From only woman at M&A table to mentor

Name: Alyssa Hirschfeld

Title: Principal, Gray Plant Mooty

Education: B.A., political science, psychology, Washington University in St. Louis; J.D., Boston College Law School

Alyssa Hirschfeld, principal at Gray Plant Mooty, says her mergers-and-acquisitions practice is the most exciting area of the law — from the high stakes involved to the satisfaction of closing a deal.

Hirschfeld, however, not uncommonly finds herself to be the only woman in the room, working in an M&A practice area that’s even more male-dominated than the broader legal industry.

“I think that I have to prove myself a little more,” Hirschfeld said. She no longer feels intimidated, though, because her confidence has grown through her 14 years of practice.

Hirschfeld mentors younger women in the practice group to help them succeed and makes sure opportunities are fairly divided.

Having women in leadership at the firm — including two female principal attorneys in the M&A group — has helped other women develop their careers, Hirschfeld said.

She credited Gray Plant Mooty’s encouragement and advancement of women as well. Thirty-five percent of the firm’s attorneys are women, a benchmark that helped the firm repeat as a “Best Law Firm for Women,” according to Working Mother magazine.

Q: What’s the best way to start a conversation with you?

A: Ask me about funny things my kids are doing or the best restaurant I’ve been to recently.

Q: What prompted you to study law and pursue it professionally?

A: Many people told me they thought it was a good fit for me because I was a good writer and I like problem solving, and that’s fundamentally what we do every day.

Q: What books are on your bedside table or e-reader?

A: The exact books on my bedside table now are a book called the “1-2-3 Magic” which has parenting tips to try to trick my toddlers into doing what I want them to do. I’m reading a novel by Emily Giffin, an author I like.

Q: What is a pet peeve of yours?

A: When people misspell other people’s names that is a huge pet peeve for me. That is such a fundamental way that you show respect to someone, taking the time to make sure you’re addressing them properly. My two names are kind of difficult to spell, so I encounter that frequently.

Q: What are your favorite aspects of being an attorney?

A: My favorite thing is helping a client who is not familiar with M&A get through a transaction. It can be a long and complicated process. Another thing that I like specifically about M&A is working on a team with my colleagues.

Q: Least favorite?

A: The schedule that is required when you’re on an M&A deal. That is really challenging because it is very unpredictable. I dislike opposing counsel who think that their arguments are stronger the louder they make them.

Q: What’s a favorite activity outside your job?

A: Trying new restaurants and traveling once we can do more of that when our kids get a little older.

Q: If someone visits you in your hometown, what would you take them to see or do?

A: I would take them on a boat on Lake Minnetonka. It’s naturally beautiful, plus there are fabulous houses to look at and a lot of restaurants to try on the lake.

Q: Is there an attorney or judge, past or present, whom you admire most?

A: Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The ways that she took on gender discrimination in her pre-Supreme Court career were pretty amazing. That she could accomplish the things she did in law school and post-law school with her personal responsibilities also is pretty amazing.

Q: What’s a misconception people have about working as an attorney or judge?

A: There’s a misconception that anything other than litigation is boring. I think people think that’s the exciting area of law. I think M&A is super exciting even though it doesn’t involve going into a courtroom. There’s a high-stakes feeling and time pressures. It’s intellectually stimulating.

Q: What is your favorite depiction of the legal professional in popular culture?

A: “The Firm,” the book and the movie. I would like to get the keys to “The Firm” Cayman condo like they have in the movie. I’m still waiting for that.

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