Elaine R. Levin, Class of 1985
Leader in representing emerging growth and middle-market companies
Elaine Levin is a partner at Whalen LLP, a corporate boutique law firm specializing in representing companies in facilitating business transactions across multiple platforms. She has over 25 years of experience as a corporate and securities attorney, representing businesses ranging from entrepreneurial start-ups to global Fortune 500. Levin also specializes in healthcare law, representing healthcare providers and growth companies and advising them on fraud and abuse, licensure, corporate practice of medicine, anti-kickback, and other healthcare regulatory issues. Prior to joining Whalen LLP, Levin spent time at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP; Hooper, Lundy & Bookman; Riordan & McKinzie and Preston Gates & Ellis LLP.
Levin also previously served as President and Director of Girls Incorporated of Orange County, and received the award for “Excellence in Board Leadership.” She is a founding member of two committees for the Orange County United Way, and has served multiple other charitable and civic non-profits.
How did Chicago-Kent prepare you for your present success?
I think Chicago-Kent was actually critical in my career and success. The things that I thought were so important that Chicago-Kent gave me were that it taught practical skills - like having the 3 year legal writing program, which really made a difference to my employers. And having business-related classes like Corporate Finance, Corporate Taxation, Antitrust, Negotiations, and Current Corporate Problems- those were really interesting classes, because most law schools only focus on the litigation side. Chicago-Kent had very practical classes, which were taught by attorneys from local firms actually doing the business deals. We had these actual attorneys doing the work, and through that I was able to talk to interviewers about current corporate topics and be up to speed on deals as opposed to people from other law schools. Teaching what law practice was actually like made a huge difference. The opportunity to do a legal externship was a great opportunity, and to learn what happens and goes on in court. Believe it or not, I still look at some of the documents I drafted as a student almost 30 years ago.
What advice would you give to young attorneys just starting out today?
To get the best experience that you can- to really try a lot of varieties of the law to find out what you think is interesting. Get a broad experience initially and then find a niche area of the law that you’re passionate about, and get the best experience and training that you can in that area. Take advantage of continuing legal education and seminars. The legal field is too complicated to be a generalist; if you have a niche practice area that you can be an expert in.
Who was your favorite professor at Chicago-Kent?
Linda Hirshman- she taught Civil Procedure, which could be a dry subject. She was very amusing because she was constantly using analogies to Opera. Also, David Rudstein teaching Criminal Law. He was a great professor.
What does it mean to you to be one of Chicago-Kent’s 125 Alumni of Distinction?
It’s a great honor to be recognized, especially considering the number of amazing graduates that Chicago-Kent has had over the years. It’s also turned out to be a really nice enforcement of my connections at Chicago-Kent, since I can’t be involved locally. It’s a great honor to be affiliated with the law school. It’s finally gotten the national attention it deserves for its top programs and innovate initiatives.
What would people find most surprising about you?
I’m actually a fairly good public speaker, although I’m actually a fairly quiet and reserved person. I’ve gotten good at public speaking over the years, probably because of my experience as President and Chair of the Board at Girls, Inc. I had to speak to everyone – national directors, corporate partners, government grant officials, and principals, teachers and parents at schools. I’ve done a lot of speaking on the non-profit side, and it’s translated to speaking on business topics at medical seminars, executive seminars, medical schools and facilities, putting on programs for the Life Sciences Industry Council and moderating panels.
What would you say your future holds?
I want to continue working with the entrepreneurial companies and their owners on the interesting business deals to help them grow. It’s fun to work with the entrepreneurs and come up with innovative and creative solutions to make the deals work and achieve business goals. To me, that’s the fun stuff- the business deals. I also want to continue working with non-profits and giving back to the community, primarily the organizations that focus on empowering girls. It’s very enriching to me and my life; it puts my stresses in perspective and empowers me to be more passionate about my work and my life.