UPFRONT & PERSONAL: An Interview with Catherine Zinn, Chief Client Officer at Orrick

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Upfront & Personal

Today we continue our latest feature on the Legal Executive Institute blog, “Upfront & Personal”, a column that brings “the person behind the title” to the forefront in interviews with of some the most influential members of the legal community.

The column is created and written by Rose Ors.

Catherine Zinn, the Chief Client Officer at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, spoke recently with Rose Ors, the CEO and Founder of ClientSmart, about the rewarding parts of her job and the value of pro sports.

Rose Ors: What are you most proud of about the way you lead your life?

Catherine Zinn: I treat everyone I meet with respect, humility and curiosity. I’m genuinely interested in hearing their stories and, whenever possible, adding to their stories in a positive way. For example, I love connecting people I know to one another and then seeing how those connections develop into positive personal and professional opportunities. It’s very rewarding for me to know I was a small part of the success of these connections.

Rose Ors: What is the most rewarding part of your role as Chief Client Officer at Orrick?

Catherine Zinn: There are many elements of my work at Orrick that I find rewarding. All of them have to do with adding meaningful value to our clients. Everything I do is based on this outcome. So, I work closely with clients to learn about their legal needs and I communicate those needs to our relationship partners and client teams. This work is intrinsically satisfying to me. I’m very fortunate to have a job that I love.

Rose Ors: What are some of your personal passions?

Catherine Zinn: I’m truly passionate about the non-profit work I do. I approach my non-profit work the same way I approach my work at Orrick. I ask, “How can I be of service?”

Rose Ors: What are some of the non-profit groups you’re involved with?

Catherine Zinn: I’m on the board of the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley. As you know, this organization is focused on remedying social injustices linked to poverty and discrimination as well as child neglect and abuse. I’m also on the board of the National Foundation for Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. This organization works to ensure that all children can play sports regardless of their backgrounds or economic situations.

This is work that is deeply personal to me. It’s an essential part of who I am.

Upfront & Personal

Catherine Zinn, of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe

Rose Ors: In another life, what is a career you would find exciting to pursue?

Catherine Zinn: I’d love to be a professional athlete. I’m an okay athlete now, so in another life I would need to be good enough to be a professional athlete. A close second would be an athletic coach.

Rose Ors: What would be your sport?

Catherine Zinn: I would be a long-distance runner. Long-distance running is grueling and requires a great degree of both physical and mental discipline. It takes grit. I think what we learn about ourselves, when we challenge ourselves, is very exciting. I love testing the limits of what I can accomplish.

Rose Ors: What sparked your interest in sports?

Catherine Zinn: My brother. He was initially disappointed that his younger sibling, me, was a girl because he figured I wouldn’t be able to play football or baseball with him. Then he asked himself, “But, why not?” So, he taught me to play football and baseball. It was his greatest gift to me. Playing sports taught me, at a very young age, that doing something 10,000 times is a path to getting good in sports. Of course, it’s a lesson about getting good at most things in life.

Rose Ors: This is a nice segue to a story you’ve shared with me that I love. Can you share your Madeleine Albright story?

Catherine Zinn: I had the opportunity to secure Madeleine Albright as a keynote speaker for an event sponsored by the Breast Cancer Connections, a nonprofit organization I work with that supports individuals touched by breast or ovarian cancer. She accepted my invitation to be part of the event on the condition that I share the stage with her. So, I had the honor to interview her.

In preparing for my interview with Ms. Albright, I found a New York Times piece that noted that she leg presses 400 pounds. The piece sparked a mild controversy in the press over the accuracy of that high number. So, in my interview with her I asked, “Ms. Albright, is it true that you leg press 400 pounds?”

She answered, “No. I leg press 450 pounds.” That was the moment that Ms. Albright secured her place as one of my heroes. I love that competitive spirit!

Rose Ors: So do I. A perfect story, Catherine.