January 25, 2016

Member Spotlight: Meet Eleanor Ruffner

How long have you been a member of the Austin Bar and what is your favorite thing about the organization?
I have been a member of the Austin Bar since I moved to Austin from Houston in 2010.  My favorite thing about the organization is how hard it works to ensure that the bar association offers something for all practitioners, from big firms to solos, and government to in-house.  The city of Austin is wonderfully committed to developing an inclusive sense of community while celebrating its diversity, and the Austin Bar is no different.  Much of the credit goes to ourEleanor Ruffner photo sitting district and county judges and the bar leadership for thoughtfully fostering a warm and collegial professional community.

What do you like most about being in the legal field?
To be perfectly honest, I love my job most on those days when I get to be right.
Lawyers are professionals.
We are paid for our professional judgment.
As a litigator, you spend time with your client understanding what happened, what solutions work for them, and developing a plan to achieve a workable solution, whether that’s preparing for trial or dispositive hearings, leveraging settlements, or otherwise.  When you get validation – when the judge or factfinder agrees with you, or opposing counsel concedes, or you negotiate to a great resolution – being right feels fantastic.

If you weren’t a lawyer what would you be?
I worked for the Ole Miss Athletic Department in college. When I was about to graduate from college, a full-time position on the AD staff opened up in academic support, and I was encouraged to apply. That job would have been a lot of fun.  I adore college football (Ole Miss first, Texas second, Ohio State third because I love my husband), and the work was so enjoyable.

What’s the craziest job (other than lawyer) that you’ve had?
In college I worked for a late-night chicken delivery service. We stayed open one hour after the bars closed and did a lot of business in that one hour. Prior to my employment, this particular chicken delivery service had gained notoriety for being the subject of a SWAT raid. A few employees under not-very-diligent supervision had developed a clever but highly illegal system of using the chicken delivery service to distribute marijuana to some regular customers. N.B.:  I was not a part of this operation and only learned about it after I started work there.

If you were a character in a movie or a TV show, which character would you be?
I wish I was Truvy from Steel Magnolias, but I’m not. On a good day, maybe Clairee. On a bad day, Ouiser.

As part of the #austinbarinaction campaign, how are you making your world a better place to be?
I strongly believe in the work done by Volunteer Legal Services of Central Texas and keep at least one pro bono case on my docket at all times.  I also love my work as an adjunct at UT Law – hopefully influencing the next generation of lawyers to practice as though they’re Austinites, even if they end up in Dallas.  Our charge is to be the change, right?  If all lawyers believed their primary objectives should be to be honest, practical, reasonable, helpful, and kind, our profession would improve from the inside, so that’s how I try to conduct myself in the courtroom, in the classroom, and in the world.