Tonight’s Meet a Mom, Katie Hynes, is truly a “Mom Boss” – she’s an experienced trust and estates litigator at Smith Legacy Law who honed her skills as a prosecutor at the federal, state, and county levels.
Born and raised in Greenwich, Katie has moved back to town with her husband and 3 year old daughter, who attends the same nursery school she attended as a child. After a fascinating career in the courtroom working to be a Criminal Prosecutor, in 2021 Katie joined Smith Legacy Law here in Greenwich which has been an incredible opportunity to be part of a truly unique firm with a fantastic culture where getting to know the client and their needs is top priority.
Katie never takes for granted that someone truly wants her advice and help, and it is this personal connection with clients that motivates her to be a lawyer.
Keep reading as Katie shares why she loves her job, and how she is able to find balance with her career and Motherhood.
Can you please tell us a bit about yourself personally? Where do you live, and names/ages of kids, etc.? Where do you live in Greenwich and what do you love about Greenwich and your neighborhood/ what made you decide to move there/ how long have you been there?
I was born in Greenwich and lived here most of my childhood, with a few years in Boston in the middle. I graduated from Sacred Heart, then attend Brown University (with the amazing Greenwich Moms founder!), and after college I moved to New York, but I always knew that I wanted to move back to Greenwich, and in 2015 my husband, Tom, and I moved to our house just off Round Hill Road. I love our neighborhood; we have the best mix of backcountry tranquility but are only a few minutes from town. I joined the board of the Round Hill Association, which is a great neighborhood association that works to promote the interests of all residents and helps build community in our area where sometimes neighbors might be a bit far away. Our daughter, Anne Marie, was born in 2019, and attends Round Hill Nursery School, which is a great local institution (I went there myself many years ago!). It has been great being a part of the school community, and it has helped us meet new friends and connect with neighbors.
Can you please share about your professional background and career highlights?
After a brief foray into corporate marketing I went to Fordham Law School with the goal of becoming a criminal prosecutor. I started my career at the Bronx District Attorney’s Office which was an amazing and challenging job, and an experience I would never trade (oh the stories not fit for print!). The courtroom experience I gained has been invaluable and it was an incredible opportunity to be given so much responsibility so early in my career. From there I pivoted to civil litigation, working for several years for Westchester County where I gained great experience handling a broad type of cases including employment, tort, civil rights and general commercial litigation. In 2021 I joined Smith Legacy Law here in Greenwich which has been an incredible opportunity to be part of a truly unique firm with a fantastic culture.
What makes Smith Legacy Law unique to other Trusts & Estates and Corporate Law offices?
Smith Legacy Law is unique because of our holistic view of our practice and our clients. The guiding principle is that we want to be your lawyer for life, which impacts everything we do. When a new client calls to consult our first priority is to understand what they need, not just respond to a discrete issue – we want to provide services that will add value to our client’s lives and businesses. This means understanding the client’s present situation and identifying and prioritizing their future goals. Our different practice areas intersect in many ways and a business client might also need estate planning work to ensure that their family business stays in the family. A litigation client might need to form a new business after splitting with their prior business partner. Most importantly we want to be a partner that our clients feel they can turn to for advice and support throughout their life as their needs evolve.
Our knowledge of litigation as well as estate planning and corporate law means that we know what needs to be done to protect a client’s interests, be it an ownership in a small business, real property, or otherwise, and are prepared to fight if those interests are challenged.
What would be your advice to someone who is concerned about the Estate Planning process?
My practice is focused primarily on corporate work and litigation, however some good general advice that I think holds true for anyone is to talk to your family about your wishes. From my experience litigating trusts and estates issues, the majority of the time the issues that arise stem from long standing resentments or disagreements that were never addressed. For example, if you decide to leave more money to one child, or give a certain family heirloom to another, don’t wait for the proverbial ‘reading of the will’ for them to find out, hearing your reasons for doing so can help to prevent future challenges.
What advice would you give to someone based on your work as a litigator?
From practicing now for many years as a civil litigator one thing I have found that holds true across all types of cases is that as frustrating as it might be, you can’t stop someone from suing you. However, what you can and should do is work proactively to protect your interests, so that if you should someday find yourself in court, your attorney will be armed with the evidence to resolve the case efficiently to minimize any harm or stress to you or your business. It is not always obvious what you should do to arm yourself and this is where having a good relationship with a lawyer you trust can make a difference. Whether it is reviewing your corporate structure and contracts to ensure you are up to date with current regulations, or revising a trust agreement, there are many things an individual or business can do that will minimize their exposure to legal issues, as well as help to quickly shut down unavoidable legal challenges. It can help to think in terms of your physical health – an annual “preventative” check up is advisable for everyone (not just our children!)
How does being a Mom help you in your job and understanding your cases?
The joke around my house is when something is broken my daughter always goes “Mommy has to fix it”. In a sense this is what my job is at work too! When I am working with a client they are looking to me for answers, and relying upon me to come up with a resolution. The answer isn’t always as easy as grabbing a screwdriver and changing some batteries, but it just feels natural to me to be the person someone looks to when something needs fixing. I never take for granted that someone truly wants my advice and help, and it is this personal connection with clients that motivates me.
How do you find a balance with motherhood and your job? Any tips for the rest of the Moms out there?
I am really lucky to have a great support system which allows me to work outside my home full time – my husband works from home and helps out by handling dinner most nights, and I am so fortunate to have a wonderful nanny who cares for Anne Marie as if she were her own daughter. As far as advice for other mothers I would say ask for help and take it when it is offered – I struggle with this a lot but it is so important.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I truly love what I do and feel so grateful to have found a job at a firm which supports and aligns with my own priorities – a strong commitment to helping others, an emphasis on community engagement and nurturing family relationships. This ethos informs how we help and counsel our clients, and it is wonderful to work with a team that shares the same priorities.
We love to support local businesses. What are your fave places when you are in Greenwich to:
Grab coffee: CFCF
Workout: I love the trainers at Elite Health Services in Old Greenwich
Go on a date night: Il Leone in Glenville is a recent favorite
Go out for a girls night: Townhouse
Go out to dinner as a family: Boxcar Cantina
Get your hair done: Maison D’Alexandre
Get your nails done: Muse
Have fun as a family: Bruce Park playground is a go to spot