Who has redefined what it means to think outside the law (aka OUTLAW) and is helping each of us in the process?
Meet Cari Brunelle, Founding Partner at Baretz+Brunelle. She does PR and crisis communications for law firms and their clients and has been doing so for more than 15 years. We asked her a few questions and her answers can be found below. Enjoy getting to know this Outlaw!
Q: What is your idea of happiness?
A: Personally, I love nothing better than hanging out with my husband and two girls on our deck looking out over the golf course. Professionally, I couldn’t be happier with our new firm and our amazing team!
Q: What is your motto?
A: Always take the high road. It isn’t easy but I believe you should always be the bigger person – and be kind no matter how others treat you.
Q: Share something you’ve done in the past that set you apart from your peers?
A: I was nominated for an Emmy for a documentary I wrote and produced for PBS early in my career. Through my experience as a broadcaster, I learned how reporters think and it has been an invaluable lesson in PR. While there are many others in PR who have come from journalism, few can say as I can that they climbed a TV tower before it went live or wrestled adult alligators from a lake in the middle of the night for research for a documentary.
Q: What is your greatest fear?
A: I have to separate my personal life from my professional life. Personally, as most parents can understand, my greatest fear is losing one of my children. Professionally, I want to be someone who makes a difference -whether it’s on an individual or institutional level. So my fear is that I don’t succeed in doing that.
Q: What got you working in the legal industry?
A: The short answer is my sister. The long answer is that back in the late 90’s, I was working as the spokesperson for a level 1 trauma hospital and was on call 24/7 and not making much money. My oldest daughter was a baby at the time and I was constantly being pulled away to the hospital at all hours to deal with crisis issues. At the time, my sister was the head of communications for a telecom company and told me about a former co-worker who was working for a legal PR firm and loved it – she was making more money and had greater work/life balance. I didn’t believe it was possible to have both of those and love your job, but I had really enjoyed working with general counsel on legal issues over the years and thought it was worth a try. That was 16 years ago and I haven’t looked back since.
Q: Your favorite virtue?
A: Courage. One of the four cardinal virtues from Greek philosophy, courage applies to everything in life. Courage to do the right thing and try new things.
Q: What would you consider your greatest achievement?
A: By far, my greatest achievement is our two girls. They are 17 and 8 and both sweet, smart, and funny. I couldn’t imagine life without them.
Cari has been in PR and crisis communications for law firms and their clients for more than 15 years. Prior to the legal industry, she spent 10 years in higher education PR, including work for two teaching hospitals. Cari has also served as PIO for a Virginia state agency. Early in her career, Cari worked as a broadcast news journalist and produced and wrote two documentaries for PBS, one of which was nominated for an Emmy.