Erin L. Swisshelm joined the firm this year as an associate for the Land Use & Zoning practice group in the Loudoun office. Prior to joining the firm, Erin was an Assistant County Attorney at the Frederick County Attorney’s office in Winchester, Virginia. Prior to working at the Frederick County Attorney’s office, Erin worked as an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney for the Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney in Martinsburg, West Virginia. Erin attended law school at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
Thank you for participating in this month’s Employee Spotlight, Erin! Tell us a little more about yourself — where did you grow up?
I grew up in a suburb of Indianapolis, Indiana. When I was there, it was still a pretty small town, but much like Northern Virginia, it’s experienced quite the development boom since I left after college. I now live in Leesburg, Virginia.
What did you think you wanted to be when you were younger?
When I was little I wanted to be a scientist of some kind, but as I got older I started becoming interested in law and the way our legal system worked. I majored in biochemistry in college, and I had some really awesome science research opportunities in undergrad, but it just wasn’t the right fit. I ended up in law school, thinking that maybe I’d work as a patent lawyer. While I still really enjoy learning and reading about science, I’m glad my career has taken me in the direction it has.
What interested you in land use and zoning field?
I got my introduction to land use law when I was working in a local government office and was asked to help review land use applications. Over time, I discovered that land use and zoning is a really good blend of all the things I like about being a lawyer. In any given week, this kind of practice allows me to write both persuasively and technically, to collaborate with other professionals, and to solve problems for our clients. It’s never boring, and each application presents new opportunities to learn something, and to help shape the way our community develops.
What aspect of your role do you enjoy the most?
I really enjoy the problem solving and teamwork portions of my role. It’s extremely satisfying to work with other professionals to find a solution for a client and to help them realize their vision for their project.
Who would you consider your role model at the firm?
That’s a hard one – everyone I’ve had the pleasure of working with has been great, and I’ve had the opportunity to learn a lot from everyone. If I have to pick, I’d have to say Randy Minchew, because he has such a great way of problem-solving. It’s always fun to discuss strategy with him.
Aside from a very busy schedule, what do you like to do for fun outside of work?
In my spare time I like to attend Crossfit, and to get outside for a long walk or hike. I also like to use my weekends to catch up with family and friends, or try out new recipes. I’ve also been slowly exploring all the fun things to do here in Loudoun since moving in June.
Favorite place(s) to travel to?
Internationally, so far my favorite has been Costa Rica. I’m hoping travel conditions will stay stable, and have dreams of visiting Germany and Italy in the coming years. Domestically, a lot of my travel time has been spent seeing friends, and usually involves an annual trip to the Outer Banks. I also really like making it back to the Midwest when I get a chance.
What is your favorite show at the moment?
I just finished Ted Lasso, and I thought it was excellent. There are so many good things out right now that it’s hard to find the time to keep up!
What is your favorite book?
This is a hard one – I love to read. But I do an annual re-read of American Gods by Neil Gaiman, so that’s probably my favorite. I also deeply enjoy the work of my fellow Hoosier, Kurt Vonnegut.
Why do you think makes Walsh, Colucci, Lubeley & Walsh is a great place to work?
The people, hands down. We have a really wonderful group of professionals who are both extremely knowledgeable and are great team players.
Thank you for sharing, Erin!