A chapter in Adrian Miller’s life has the makings of a script for a fish-out-of-water romantic comedy.
A young woman from Fort Benton ponders whether to join the Peace Corps or go to law school. She chooses the latter after landing a full-ride scholarship to law school at Hofstra, a private liberal arts university on Long Island.
This one-time river guide is the first Montanan to attend Hofstra Law School. Despite being separated from her fiance for three years, they eventually get married. And she proves herself more than capable of handling life in the big city.
“I was like a zoo animal,” Miller said. “As far as some of those kids were concerned, Montana was part of Canada.”
Miller studied hard but also made the most of her spare time. “It was easy to get to the city. I took the Long Island Railroad, and it was 20 minutes into Penn Station. Public transportation is good, and you certainly miss that aspect of it when you leave.”
In case you’re wondering, this story has a happy ending. Miller married and ended up back in Montana, working for the Billings office of Holland & Hart, a firm that practices throughout the Rocky Mountain West. But her journey wasn’t without its challenges. Miller graduated from law school in 2010, when the nation was still hung over from the Great Recession. At the time, major law firms were laying people off in droves. Graduates of even the most prestigious law schools had trouble landing jobs.
Miller applied for jobs all over the country. She was among some 200 recent graduates who applied for a clerkship in Fargo, N.D. But she was happy that her job search brought her back to Montana.
What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job? Setting boundaries for personal time. Technology makes people accessible 24 hours a day. People can call or email me at any time of day. It is hard to ditch the phone and just take time for yourself without feeling guilty or anxious.
What’s the best business advice you have received? Montana has a small Bar. Treat opposing counsel and other attorneys with respect. Otherwise, you will get a reputation for being a difficult and unprofessional attorney.
Who gave you that advice? William Mercer
Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community: I am trying to focus my legal pro bono on victim’s rights work. There are a lot of crime victims who can benefit from free legal service. Sometimes it is as simple as helping them navigate the criminal justice system. Other times they need help with civil issues.
Outside of work, my biggest passion is: Traveling.
Which living person do you most admire? Ruth Bader Ginsberg (Notorious RBG)
Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job? Client satisfaction is the best measure. If I can procure a result that is good for my client, then I have done my job well. A “good” result is not necessarily one where you go to trial and win, but many times it is finding an economic solution that all parties can accept.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? My husband and I lived apart for three years while engaged when I was in law school. He was in Bozeman and I was in New York. I think it is a testament to a relationship if you can survive that kind of separation, and I’m pretty proud of us for navigating it.
I’m happiest when I’m ….. traveling someplace where there is no cell phone service.