As a mechanical engineering major at Duke University, Cynthia Kaiser was fascinated by a course in which she was required to redesign a product with a history of liability. The research forced her into the library of Duke’s law school, which rekindled an old notion of becoming a lawyer. It wasn’t long before she moved to Wilmington to work for DuPont, then started law school at night. “I thought it would be great if I could use my technical background in the practice of law,” Kaiser says. She briefly considered working in patent law, but rejected the practice as “too specific.” She tried business law, briefly shifted into corporate litigation, then returned to business law, which best suited her interests and talents. “It was just a great fit,” she says. “I find a client’s business issues and needs very interesting. There’s always something new to learn.” In a time when many attorneys are very specialized, Kaiser enjoys the broad range of cases she handles and the relationships she develops. That recently included helping Nanticoke Memorial Hospital in Seaford negotiate a tax-exempt bond financing to manage existing debt. “It wasn’t a totally new relationship, but there was a lot of due diligence, so I really got to know the administrators,” Kaiser says. “It was a great opportunity to help a client achieve its goals, and they were very appreciative.” The most senior female attorney at Richards, Layton & Finger, she was one of a pair who became the first women, in 1992, to become directors of a practice division. Did that create special pressure to do an exceptional job? “I felt that way no matter what and always,” Kaiser says. “Being first doesn’t change those obligations. And I don’t think it’s particularly healthy for the individual to think that way.” She praises her employer for its effort to increase diversity. “We have a reputation for being the conservative, Republican firm,” she says. “But we really are very diverse. There’s a real commitment to creating a firm that reflects its clients.”
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