The Lawyer: ‘You can reinvent yourself’

The Lawyer: ‘You can reinvent yourself’

Rebecca Greenfield, 33

Attorney at Pierce Atwood, Portland; head of Cumberland Bar Association

With accomplishments that include working seven years at a top Portland law firm, being elected the president of the Cumberland Bar Association, and earning recognition as an “associate to watch” by Chambers USA, it seems that Rebecca Greenfield must have been driven from an early age to succeed in the legal field. Not so, said the Portland resident.

“I never, ever imagined I’d be doing commercial real estate and financial law at all,” said Greenfield, who is an attorney at Pierce Atwood.

In fact, Greenfield, a Brooklyn native, majored in anthropology as an undergraduate then worked as a health benefits educator, giving presentations on Medicaid benefits at Department of Health & Human Services offices. Unsure of her next move, though, she enrolled in a joint program for a law degree and a master’s in public health at Boston University, planning to continue her intended focus on women’s health issues.

She followed the traditional law school path, spending a summer clerking at Pierce Atwood, where she decided to work after graduation and was placed in real estate law.

“I really liked it, so I said I could do this for a little while,” said Greenfield. “My generation’s kind of like that. You can reinvent yourself or have the ability to do different things.”

Greenfield credits one of the firm’s senior partners, Dennis Keeler, for being her mentor, when she was a new attorney and needed help learning the ropes and feeling confident to take the lead on projects.

“It’s been so important,” said Greenfield. “From Day 1 he called me his colleague, which I was, but I hadn’t earned it at that point.”

In the last couple of years, she said, she’s felt the need to branch out and become more involved in civic activities. She is currently serving as the president of the Cumberland Bar association, the largest bar association in Maine, and credits her work in the law with helping her develop the skills, such as speaking and negotiating, needed for community work.

“It’s given me so many skills that I may not have gotten otherwise,” said Greenfield. “For me, anyways that’s been really important.”

Greenfield said she hopes to lend her expertise in real estate for community work in the greater Portland area, coming back full circle to her earlier, civic-minded goals.

“It’s been completely organic for me because I didn’t have a straight, clear path at all,” said Greenfield. “I’ve really grown so much and have learned so much. I’m definitely better for it.”

Rebecca Greenfield, the lawyer

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