Member Spotlights

Interviews with NABL Members from NABL News

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Member Spotlight: Laura Beth Kurtz, 2012 Frederic L. Ballard, Jr. Memorial Scholarship Recipient, Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, LLC

MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: Laura Beth Kurtz, 2012 Frederic L. Ballard, Jr. Memorial Scholarship Recipient, Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, LLC

Tell us a little about yourself -your family, your hobbies, etc...

As a new public finance attorney out of law school only 3 years, I spend much of my days working diligently as an Associate in the Harrisburg office of Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, LLC in the public and municipal finance practice group. Prior to joining Eckert Seamans, I served as a judicial intern to the current Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and worked as a certified legal intern in the local county district attorney’s office. Before law school, I served as a policy analyst for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Republican Caucus.

If that isn’t bad enough, I’m currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Public Administration doctoral program in the graduate School of Public Affairs at the Pennsylvania State University. My academic interests include public budgeting and financial management and my dissertation examines local government responses to municipal fiscal distress.

In the little free time that I do have, I enjoy traveling, running and spending time with my family, including being auntie to my very spoiled, six-year old nephew, Kory.

What first interested you in law?

Getting a good education was important to my parents, who always did without so that I could have every opportunity in life that they didn’t. They consistently supported me academically and encouraged me to do and be whatever I wanted. I’m an intellectually curious person and I remember hearing that law school teaches you to think differently. I always liked to write, argue and problem-solve.

You were one of the 2012 Fundamentals of Municipal Bond Law Scholarship recipients (now known as the Frederic L. Ballard, Jr. Memorial Scholarship). Was that your first introduction to NABL? How did your participation help your career?

The Fundamentals of Municipal Bond Law Scholarship/Frederic L. Ballard, Jr. Memorial Scholarship program was my first introduction to NABL. I was an intern at my current firm at the time the scholarship program was seeking applications for its inaugural year. My boss and mentor, Pete Carlucci, suggested I apply for the program to learn more about public finance.

The program is so important because in most law schools, there are no formal courses or programs that focus on public and municipal finance topics or relevant concepts. Attending the fundamentals seminar was a tremendous opportunity to have access to, and network with, some of the brightest and most respected public finance, tax, and securities law attorneys from all over the country. While attending the scholarship program and as a law student, you have a great excuse to walk up to, introduce yourself, chat with and ask questions of some of the most preeminent attorneys in the field.

What is your specialization within public finance?

As a baby bond lawyer, I specialize in doing whatever I’m told do!

What was the best career advice anyone ever gave you?

Human beings, especially lawyers in general, sometimes lack the ability to admit when they’re wrong. I think with every mistake one makes, there’s an opportunity to learn and prevent it from happening in the future. If we don’t recognize our mistakes, we might be doomed to repeat them. If you are willing to set aside pride and admit when you’re wrong, it shows you have integrity and you can more easily establish trust with, and earn respect from, colleagues and clients.

As a new NABL member, what more do you think NABL can do to reach out to younger attorneys and law students?

I think the NABL Fundamentals seminar is a fantastic experience for younger attorneys and law students to learn the basics of municipal bond law and meet distinguished public finance attorneys. Giving younger attorneys and law students more opportunities to contact and speak with some of the top professionals in the field through a mentorship program might prove beneficial for new attorneys who want to ask questions of, or get advice from, veteran bond lawyers. In addition, I believe that encouraging younger attorneys to participate on NABL committees and become involved in NABL projects is important for the newer membership to feel that they are invested in and committed to the future of the association.

From the questionnaire made famous by Bernard Pivot and James Lipton, "What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?"

I used to be a bartender, so back when I was working my way through bartending… or school, I was always looking toward the future and forward to getting a “9 to 5” job. Many people assume that being a bartender is just an unfortunate or temporary situation until one finds a “real job”. But sometimes I think professional bartenders have it all figured out - they get to meet new people every night, always have cash on hand, work in a colorful and entertaining atmosphere, and have constant access to booze.

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