Featured Interview

Kim Caccavaro

Kim C Photo

Kim is an attorney at Patton Boggs LLP where she counsels clients on corporate finance and general corporate matters including mergers, acquisitions and dispositions. Before joining the business group, Kim counseled individuals on wills, trust, and estates. Kim’s background as a CPA brings a unique expertise in taxation and finance when advising business clients. Kim combines a career, a husband and raising two young children (a one and half year-old son and a three-year old daughter) – with another one on the way!

1.  From Detroit to New York and New York to Washington, DC, what brought you to our nation’s capital?
After law school, I had a summer associate position with a law firm in Detroit and the partners, who were friends and mentors, told me that if I wanted to practice tax law I would need to obtain my LL.M. (Master of Laws) in taxation and move to New York, Chicago or Washington, D.C. I took their advice and attended New York University where I obtained my LL.M. in taxation. I thought I would stay in New York but discovered that Washington, D.C. was a better fit for me I’ve been here since 2005.

2. Patton Boggs is known to be a national leader in public policy, litigation and business law. What attracted you to the firm?
When I first came to D.C., I worked for a smaller firm, Odin, Feldman & Pittleman, which is now located in Reston, Virginia. I wasn’t looking for a change but a recruiter called and was very persistent in asking me to meet with Jim McNair, a Partner in the Wealth Preservation Group at Patton Boggs (at the time). I enjoyed meeting Jim and eventually accepted an offer. I also realized that at a larger firm, with over 500 attorneys, I would be exposed to more complex transactions on a bigger scale. I’ve been with Patton Boggs for almost seven years now although I am no longer in the Wealth Preservation Group and have transitioned to the Corporate group.

3. What influenced you to go to law school after working as a CPA?
I graduated from the University of Michigan with an accounting degree but always knew that I wanted to go to law school. When I sat for the CPA exam, the requirements for obtaining one’s CPA license required one to work for two years before being granted a CPA license. So, I was a CPA by day and law student at night. at was challenging and after a couple of years, I quit my job as a CPA and went to law school full-time. It was a life-changing decision because I had to sell my house and become a full-time student, again, but it was worth it.

4. Would you say the transition from accounting to law was a left brain (rational and sequential) / right brain (intuitive and simultaneous) career-move?
Not really. One of the reasons that I went into accounting is that I like direct answers. I thought that’s what accounting was about but it’s more than that. Adding up a column of numbers to arrive at an answer is one part of accounting but the more challenging, and often more important part, is the recording of the transaction and how it is reflected in the financial statements. You often have to go back to the theory and principals of accounting to get it right – which is really more right-brain thinking.

5. You and your husband both have robust careers while raising two young children. What do you think about “having it all?”
“Having it All?” Our third baby arrives in March. I’ll be a little busier for awhile after that. I’ve learned that there is no such thing as “having it all.” I can’t do everything I used to do anymore. Some things simply do not get done so I have to prioritize. If you would have asked me five years ago if I would have ever had a stack of mail on the counter for longer than two days, the answer would have been NO! Being a working mom has forced me to prioritize and to rely on other people. Sometimes it’s hard because things are not always done the same way I would have done it if I were doing it myself but at least everything gets done!

6. Do you feel like you have a “Part 2” to your life when you get home after working all day?
Absolutely. Recently, I was talking to a partner who said “20 minutes ago I was home potty-training my daughter and now I’m going into a meeting to negotiate a complex agreement.” We both laughed knowing that as parents, we often need to flip the switch. My daughter likes to “work with Mommy.” So, we set-up a chair and lap-desk in my home office and she feels like she is participating which allows me to get some work done while still spending time with her. Unfortunately, her attention span isn’t always that long but usually I can get a good half-hour out of it before taking a short break with her.

7.  What is your key to “survival”?
My husband and I make time for “us.”  With two professionals who work a lot sometimes all you can do is look at one another at the end of the day.  We make Friday night — date night.  It often may be simply going out to dinner but it’s time for us to unwind and talk about anything! 

8.  What is your favorite thing to do over the weekend and/or how do you unwind?
I try to plan one family outing every weekend.  Now that it’s fall, we’ve been going to the apple orchard and the pumpkin patch.  I really enjoy one-on-one time with each of my children but especially with my daughter since she’s a little older and I can see how it balances her out.  What gives me joy is knowing that I have some downtime with my family when I can completely unplug from work (even for a few hours). It re-sets the whole family for the week. 

9.  When do you find time for you?
Fortunately, I don’t need a lot of downtime — only short amounts of time alone.  I recharge by dealing with people. I’m an extrovert by nature so that’s where I get my energy. My alone time is sometimes paying bills or putting away the laundry!  It’s relaxing because I know everything is in order. Other things you just need to schedule and fit it in – like getting your hair done.

10.  How has practicing law met your expectations – or not?
Both.  No one tells you how difficult it is practicing law in a firm – especially in a big firm.  There are billable hours and client demands and the culture, in and of itself, tends to be intense.  There are many late nights, working weekends, and missed holidays.  It can be difficult to balance if you don’t have the right support network – especially a supportive spouse – and some help with the kids.  In all honestly, it is the intensity that drives me but it takes a lot of energy – and adaptability. 

11. What advice would you give to women entering law school today?
Law is a great career.  It’s intellectually simulating and it can be very rewarding but I would tell her to think about how much time she wants to spend away from her family.  Realize that the practice of law, at least in a large firm, requires significantly more than a 40-hour work week. 

 

REGISTER TO RECEIVE OUR E-NEWSLETTER AND ITS BENEFITS

what is women on top?

Do you want to know how other professional women jumped that hurdle? Each week, we publish an interview with a highly accomplished woman...women who share insights, perspectives and experiences with you. Women you may meet at your next event or next business meeting.

NOMINATE A WOMAN ON TOP!

Click HERE to review the guidelines and submit a name.

recent interviews

Diane Zanetti

Diane Zanetti is Senior Vice President at Citibank.

Teresa Bozzelli

Teresa is president of Sapient Government Services.

Barbara Werther

Barbara is principal at Ober|Kaler and co-founder of the Women in Construction Annual Conference.