I have always enjoyed reading autobiographies and interviews about people who have accomplished so much and have reached a place where they were able to share their achievements and how they came upon the road that brought them there. I look to these stories for inspiration and guidance. Now, after graduating from law school and working in the legal field for more than a year, I’m still learning and seeking motivation from the stories of others.
One such story that I’d like to share is from someone I’ve had the pleasure to work with, Arden K. Miner. Arden began working for Attorneys’ Title Guaranty Fund (“ATG”) in 2001 and quickly ascended through the ranks. In 2004, she was promoted to Senior Manager of ATG’s Underwriting and Escrow Departments. By 2012, she was chosen to lead a brand new subsidiary company, ATG LegalServe, and promoted to its top position as President & CEO. Now, she is also an Illinois State Licensed Private Detective. Arden has a teaching certificate from Northeastern University and received degrees from Thomas M. Cooley Law School, Keller Graduate School of Management and Loyola University.
I decided to interview Arden because she has been a great source of knowledge for me at ATG and I wanted to understand how she came to be where she is today. Arden is a dynamic leader, unafraid to take risks. I met Arden during my first week at work and she has been giving me advice and support ever since. Though Arden works in a different department and is busy managing a whole team of her own, she always makes time for me whenever I randomly pop my head into her office. Once again, Arden has graciously agreed to give her time to answer more of my questions and has given me permission to share our conversation with you.
KX: Why law?
AM: I wanted to be a lawyer from the time I was in grammar school. My social studies teacher had the class argue US Supreme Court Cases in a mock trial. That exercise sparked my interest in the law at an early age.
KX: How did you get into the real estate/title industry?
AM: I started working as an entry level attorney for a solo practitioner who mainly practiced real estate, but was also a title insurance agent. Soon, I became more interested in learning about real estate from the title insurance perspective. At the time, I thought being a title closer was a good way to accomplish that. My first job with ATG was as an Independent Closer. This experience was invaluable to my career with ATG. After a year or so as a Closer, I became a Staff Attorney in the Underwriting Department. I went on to manage the Hold Harmless Department and then the Escrow and Underwriting Departments. I also had wonderful opportunities to work on interesting and diverse projects. Today, I am the President & CEO of ATG LegalServe, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Attorneys’ Title Guaranty Fund, Inc. My company is mainly a litigation support provider, specializing in service of process, skip-tracing, document filing and document retrieval. Recently, we launched a new product line that allows employers to order employment background screening from us.
KX: Do you have any career advice for staying in the industry?
AM: You have to keep learning and growing. The real estate and title industries are always changing. You need to keep up with all of the changes. Attend seminars. Get involved in real estate and title insurance related organizations: the ISBA, CBA, ILTA, ALTA, and IRELA to name a few. You never know where your involvement may lead you. I have been involved in all of the preceding organizations and have had amazing opportunities for growth as a result. Don’t shy away from opportunities to be a public speaker. If you have expertise in a particular area of the law, share it with others. CLE providers are always looking for knowledgeable speakers.
KX: What are your thoughts on taking risks and career management?
AM: You must be fearless! If you want to advance your career you have to be willing to take risks. Some opportunities only come around once, so you must be prepared to take advantage of them. Don’t let fear of failure or limited thinking hold you back. You can do anything you set your mind to. That may sound like a cliché but it’s true. Sometimes you just have to jump in with both feet.
KX: What is the best advice you can give a new attorney?
AM: Have a career path in mind but be willing to take a different road. I never expected that I would become a Private Detective and run ATG LegalServe, but it’s been a wonderful detour. Be flexible in your thinking. Look outside the box for creative solutions to problems.
KX: What is the most rewarding part of your work?
AM: It has been tremendously rewarding for me to be involved with a start-up company. I have had the opportunity to work on every aspect of its development: compliance, personnel, budgeting, collection, product development and sales and marketing, to name a few. I have watched the company grow in size and revenue from four employees and gross revenue of $119,000 in 2010 to 11 employees and projected gross revenue of 1.2 Million in 2013. Every aspect of running this company is rewarding.
KX: What challenges do you face in your field of work?
AM: Process Serving is a high-volume business. We need to be able to successfully complete a large number of orders per month in the most accurate and timely manner possible. I am pleased to say that we have a very fast turnaround time. We are very successful at finding and serving defendants so that attorneys don’t have to use alternate and expensive methods of service, such as publication. Our affidavits hold up in court. We have had a very low rate of services quashed. Additionally, we continue to work hard to bring our customers state-of-the-art technology in our ordering and tracking software. ■