Experienced environmental lawyer Jean Warshaw embraces Axiom’s flexibility
By Axiom Law
“All the Axiom lawyers I’ve met bring a lot to the table. We all have depth of knowledge and expertise, in addition to a willingness to jump in and solve problems. I think Axiom is unique.”
Jean Warshaw is an experienced commercial and environmental lawyer who also focuses on intellectual property. She began working with Axiom in 2009 after working at two law firms, working in-house, and managing her ongoing private practice. At Axiom, Jean enjoys the consistency and quality of the work, and the flexibility of being able to work with clients she loves. In addition, she appreciates being able to focus on practicing law while Axiom’s businesses teams take care of the administrative heavy lifting.
Finding her passion for law
As an undergraduate at Bryn Mawr college, Jean majored in Chemistry. Her inspiration to follow a path to becoming a lawyer came during her junior year, when she studied abroad at the University of Leeds in northern England. There, she met classmates who were studying law as undergraduates. “It really hit me that year how differences in law have tremendous impacts on our daily lives. I wanted to be part of that,” says Jean.
After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Jean joined a law firm where she was a patent litigator. Later on, she joined a general litigation firm. Her first in-house experience in environmental law was at Swiss pharmaceutical company Ciba-Geigy. After having a child, she began practicing law independently and focused half of her work in environmental law, and half in general commercial law.
Axiom’s engagement model has permitted Jean to bring her expertise to many different clients. It enables her to focus squarely on the legal side of her work. “Most people don’t need full-time environmental lawyers like me, so it’s perfect to work through Axiom," Jean says. "I am relieved of a lot of the administrative nonsense. All I have to do is focus on the work. Which is, at this point in my career, exactly what I want to be doing.”
In addition to the flexibility of her work at her engagements, the quality of her work has been consistently high. “I consider my Axiom engagements to be personal clients,” says Jean, “and you don’t have that level of appreciation of your clients when you’re at a law firm and someone is saying ‘Guess what, you’re working on this.’ As an Axiom lawyer, you walk into every engagement with the assumption of being highly qualified because of the Axiom screening process.”
A career rooted in environmental law
Jean manages a wide portfolio in her legal work, including manufacturing and pharmaceutical companies. “What I’m doing right now is what suits me best,” she says. “I can translate between the science and the policy-makers. Environmental lawyers have to be jacks-of-all-trades because environmental law covers so many general business issues in terms of risk, liability, and contracting.”
Jean enjoys working with many different clients. “One of the reasons why Axiom is such a good fit for me is because the environmental work is episodic, and the commercial work is steady. Some of my old engagements call me twice a year for specific types of liability questions on the environmental side. I always have something interesting to do, but I’m not always swamped. And my workload isn’t always too light, either.”
The flexibility of her schedule also allows her to take on pro bono environmental cases and pursue her hobbies, which include glasswork, cooking, and gardening. “I have two apple trees on my terrace, jalapeño plants, lots of herbs, and lots of flowers,” she says.
Finding holistic solutions for the contracting puzzle
Like other Axiom lawyers, Jean appreciates that the Axiom model allows her to work with great clients to tackle big problems and consequential legal work. “Law firms do very good work, but often they are in silos,” says Jean. “If you look at legal issues without the overarching context, you’re just not going to keep the clients happy. If you look at them in the totality of the company – which is what Axiom allows us to do, since we come in as quasi-in-house – we can be much more effective.”
One area in which Jean likes to help clients solve these problems is in the area of contracting. “I think it’s like sitting down and doing a crossword puzzle,” she says. “You work with the client to help them figure out what their priorities are and what pitfalls they might face, and how they can make an informed business decision. There’s a legal role of advising with respect to risk, and a client function of deciding how much risk tolerance they have. You put it all together and it feels like solving the New York Times crossword puzzle, which I don’t do anymore because I satisfy that urge by writing contracts. I used to be addicted to puzzles.”
The evolving legal landscape
The legal industry continues to change. “In-house teams are leaner than when I was in-house,” she says. “Handling almost everything in-house isn’t as ubiquitous as it used to be.”
Jean works in a variety of areas, but one looms larger than the others. “Clearly on the contracting side, there is the whole issue of data privacy,” says Jean. "I wouldn’t even call it emerging – it’s exploding.”
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