Rachel Reese

Founder and Managing Attorney, R. Reese and Associates, Houston

A champion for empowering young women, Rachel Reese teaches girls self-efficacy to grow their belief in their own success. Three years after starting her own law firm, she is applying those same principles to her own career.

“I began attending GEN [Girls Empowerment Network] Career Days to show these girls what is possible for them and made sure to encourage all my female colleagues to do the same,” she said. “I often explain to these young girls that I had no money and no connections growing up; my family didn’t even know any lawyers. But by believing in myself and my capabilities, I was able to put myself through college, then law school and eventually start my own firm. I take immense pride in being living proof that there is absolutely no reason that any girl can’t do exactly the same thing–or anything else that their heart desires.”

Reese worked as an in-house lawyer for Swift Energy before taking a leap of faith to start her own firm, R. Reese and Associates. She now lives in Houston with her partner, Brad Dye, and her two children.”

Getting started

“One of the things that I tell people who are entering law school is that, much like undergrad, you most likely won’t end up practicing in the area that you enter law school thinking you want to practice in. When I went to UH, I wanted to be an in-house lawyer at an energy company. When I graduated, I worked as a litigator at a firm that focused primarily on maritime law but ended up gravitating toward their offshore energy practice. Then I actually did go in-house for Swift Energy and now I run a firm that focuses on doing the work of an in-house legal department but on an outsourced, as needed basis. So I guess, I’m the exception to my own rule."

Leaping over hurdles

“When I left my secure in-house job at an energy company, I had no training to run or market a small business. I had an idea, a little bit of savings and an intense desire to build a law firm that made a significant positive impact on both the companies that we represented and on the lives of my employees. Like many entrepreneurs before me, I overcame these obstacles by sheer force of will. I read the books, took the training and learned the technology. I made mistakes and I asked for help. Most importantly, I never gave up.

It has not been easy. I remember one sleepless night a year into this journey, when our revenue had dramatically dropped over the preceding few months and it seemed like we might not survive. I kept asking myself: Should I close the firm? Should I go back to working for someone else? Did I make a mistake?

By the end of the night, the questions had turned into, ‘Am I doing everything in my power to make this firm a success?’ The answer turned out to be ‘no.’ I hadn’t yet given this opportunity everything that I had, and I knew that if I did not do so, I would regret it. I made another decision that night, that I would do everything in my power to make the firm a success—an unqualified success, and if we weren’t profitable again in three months, I would close my doors. I did the work and the next month we had our best month ever. I learned that is what it takes—being all in—believing in yourself, your ideas and your capabilities so much that you’re excited to be prospecting for new clients because you know how much you can help them and their business."

Future of the industry

“I believe that the younger members of our industry have a lot to offer. Those that are still left in our industry after all that has happened over the last few years truly believe in what we are doing and the value that our industry brings to the nation and the world. They’ve also seen the industry struggle and know that we have to adapt in order to survive. These young leaders don’t have to unlearn any bad habits, they can challenge the way things have always been done and see things from a different perspective. This is just what our industry needs right now.

I believe that the industry, as a whole, must become more efficient. One way to gain efficiency would be to embrace technology. We have several clients that have created astonishing technologies that have the potential to reshape how many E&Ps run their day to day businesses."

Finding happiness

“My piece of advice would be to focus on finding something that you like to do first, then find a way to make money at it. I find that so many professionals entered their field because they could make good money doing it and end up bored or unhappy. There are plenty of ways to make good money doing the things you actual enjoy doing that there is no reason to spend your life doing something that you dread the thought of spending eight hours a day on.

I love the people in this industry. They are my kind of people and there is no one else like them in the world. Our industry still values genuine connection and hand shake deals and when the chips are down, you can trust the people in our industry to do the right thing."

Three More Things

  1. The biggest personal challenge in my life has always been other people’s expectations of me. I was raised in a very strict religion where women were not expected or encouraged to work outside the home. Instead of fulfilling those expectations, I became an attorney and a business owner.
  2. My favorite hobbies are cooking and reading, so I have this weird habit of combining the two and reading cookbooks like they are novels.
  3. I come from a very large family. I’m the middle child of nine siblings.