Whitney McGuire | Attorney
My mother is a jazz singer. I grew up watching and admiring her hustle, but I noticed that she could’ve gone a bit further if she had someone who was trustworthy with music business/legal savvy supporting her. I also have a deep disdain for injustice and began advocating for others at an early age. That, plus my dominant artistic side made advocating for artists a natural fit.
As a solo legal practitioner, I set my own schedule. I also need to exercise my creative muscles in order to feel balanced. If I feel like I’ve had too long of a stretch working on strictly legal matters, I will call a meeting with my husband to brainstorm new ideas for our agency or work on existing projects we’ve taken on. Balancing both isn't easy. But there’s a lot of overlap in terms of subject matter between the agency and my firm. I use the agency to do research and expand my knowledge/skills which only enhances my ability to understand and represent my clients more effectively.
The practice of law is about more than a paycheck for me. It’s a language that I am becoming proficient in so that I can effectively communicate and create the most valuable outcomes for my clients. I am at my best when my work creates value. My clients inspire me to operate at my best.
I’m also inspired by life and often times the challenging aspects of life. Going through transitions (chosen or not) and seeking out ways to strengthen my spirit are what inspire me to do my creative work.
I started out focusing on fashion and art law in law school, however, my very first client was a musician who was signed to a rather large indie label. After returning from a federal judicial clerkship last year, this trend continued and I have since found myself representing more musicians than fashion designers and visual artists! It’s been challenging to learn an entire body of law post-law school, but luckily, there are plenty of overlapping concepts, so the learning curve isn’t too bad.
I didn’t expect to end up in the sustainable fashion space, conducting workshops about supply chain and consumer sustainability practices. My interest in this field emerged after school when I realized that my vintage and thrift clothing obsession was one way to reduce waste. Did you know fashion is the second largest polluter in the world next to coal?! Yeah. Crazy. So I have taken the knowledge I’ve gained through my fashion law journey to educate myself and the general public about these very real sustainability issues which affect ALL OF US.
I also didn’t expect to have to fight so hard to not fall into the trap of “I just need to make money,” and end up at a law firm where I am undervalued and overworked. It’s definitely not easy to remain true to yourself and be courageous enough to follow your passion in a very linear career field. I’ve doubted myself from an incredible amount of rejection and probably cried enough tears to fill the Grand Canyon, but I’m finally getting to a place of confidence and appreciation for being so determined to not let anyone else dictate my work/life.
I want to see a complete eradication of white supremacy, racism, misogyny, environmental waste, carbon emissions, gun violence, and toxic masculinity.
I want to see more rights for underrepresented communities, more value placed on artists and their work, not just the commoditization of these people. It really irks me how so many music artists, in particular, are regarded as products to be packaged and sold for the benefit of consumers and not afforded the time, space and resources to create what they want.
I want to see a revolution in the very archaic legal field/practice of law. I am doing my best to be at the helm of this revolution.
I want to see more healthy dialogue between people with seemingly disparate personalities and walks of life. Also, I want to see less “Kardashian complex” and more acceptance and love for ourselves, just the way we are.
Be yourself and don’t be afraid of failure as you pursue work that molds and shapes your purpose. That’s the hallmark of real success. Sometimes it’s cold and dark when you live your truth, but it’s a sure path to lighting not just your own life but those of the people you will eventually serve.
Also, your mentors are people too. Sometimes they can project their own shortcomings onto you in the form of “advice.” Learn to be both a filter and a sponge, taking in advice that will only enhance your pursuits.
Your productivity is not synonymous with your worth. Take breaks, learn new disciplines, take care of yourself (and your community), and challenge yourself within reason. Fuck leaning in. Just be consistent.
[On maternity/paternity leave policies in the United States] They are complete trash. Watch Ali Wong’s most recent comedy special on Netflix. She sums up my perspective quite well. Also, fuck equal pay. Pay women more than men. Seriously.
Being an entrefemmeur means having the confidence to be who I am in circles, situations, and conversations where I’m expected to diminish who I am to make others feel comfortable. I’m too proud to code switch. Shout out to my fellow entrefemmeur friend, Jehan Giles, who made that into a slogan. It also means taking risks to create my own path, shift paradigms, being called crazy or naive, being misunderstood by those riddled with fear of strong women/ taking risks, and still end up being the best at what I do.