Norma PlacheNorma Plache works for a wealth management firm, Crestone Capital Advisors, as part of the Family Wealth Planning Team. Crestone provides holistic wealth management services for about 45 high net worth families. Broadly, her focus is on estate planning and wealth transfer techniques, income tax planning, and anything not directly related to investments, but that is connected to investments and financial planning. A typical day for Plache may include reviewing a client’s basic estate planning documents and providing recommendations for updating their estate plan; participating in a family meeting to educate younger generations; participating in a tax planning call with the firm’s clients’ outside attorneys or CPAs; coordinating a life or property and casualty insurance review; and researching a complex estate or income tax issue.

How did you find your job?

I found my job through a posting on CDOnline during my 3L year.  My mentor, who is also a Colorado Law alum, had posted the position.  Initially, I started part-time while completing my LLM in tax.  I encourage current students to use the site as part of their job search plan and check it frequently and apply early for any opportunities that look interesting to them.  You never know when something great will work out.

How did Colorado Law help you in your job search?  

My career counselor helped me brainstorm numerous ideas for finding a job and developing a networking plan.  Until I sat down with her, I did not really understand the concept of networking and was just trying to meet as many people as I could.  Networking was not something that I really had to do in my prior career.  I also met with professors and alumni who were more than willing to share valuable career advice over coffee.   

What skills do you utilize on a daily basis and how did your experiences or courses at Colorado Law help you develop these skills? 

Two skills that I use every day are attention to detail and time management. My experience on Law Review really helped me take my attention to detail to a new level.  I remember spending hours helping to review articles and check citations.  At the time, it was a little painful.  But now, I’m really grateful.  I use this skill every day whether it’s reviewing documents, drafting an e-mail, or preparing materials for a client meeting.    

Also, during my 1L year, numerous people said, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint” and for some reason, that really resonated with me.  That phrase pops into my head even now when I have a particularly busy few weeks or if my “To Do” list feels unwieldy.  Law school in general helped me learn how to prioritize and balance my coursework, internships, participation in various activities, and life outside of school.

Please talk a little about “people skills” and networking specifically.  How has your professional network made a difference in your career? 

Networking and building relationships takes time, but as everyone knows, is so worth it.  I try to find something in common with other professionals on a personal basis as well whether it’s that we have children close in age, similar hobbies, etc.  The best advice that I received early on with regard to networking is to be genuine and not try to fit yourself into any particular mold.  So, for example, if you don’t play golf that’s okay, maybe cycling, coffee, etc. is more your thing.   

I encourage current students not to be intimidated and to get in the habit of networking while still in school.  I’m still building my professional network, but have already started to see benefits from doing so.  For example, I meet with other trust and estates attorneys regularly to discuss current issues, changes in the law, etc.  It’s huge having a group outside of my workplace with which I can share ideas.

If you were to recommend Colorado Law to a potential law student, what would you say? 

I had a great experience at Colorado Law!  It’s a supportive and collaborative environment.  Everyone has heard the horror stories about law students being overly competitive.  I never experienced that during my time as a student.    

Also, there are plenty of opportunities to develop legal skills outside the classroom whether that’s through an internship for credit, participation in moot court or on a journal, or working in one of the clinics.