So You Wanna Be An Ag Lawyer? Questions for Cari Rincker

Rincker Law So You Wanna Be An Ag Lawyer? Leave a Comment

I was recently asked the following questions from a high school student.  Here are my responses: 

What do you wish you would have known prior to pursuing college and a career in this field?

One of my biggest regrets educationally is not pursuing a foreign language.  I had an opportunity to  stay an extra year at Texas A & M University  and receive a minor in Spanish.  At the time, I was  anxious to move on with the next chapter of my  life.  I have  clients who  are Spanish speakers and I was fortunate in New York City to  have an assistant who  was fluent in this language.  I have  to hire  interpreters in my Illinois office when there  is a language barrier.

The world is becoming smaller and smaller.  Improved language  and communication skills will only  help you  in the practice of law and the agriculture  industry.

Do you feel that your work makes a positive impact, if so, how?

Yes, but it doesn’t always feel that way.  Some lawyers are able to practice “happy law” (i.e., helping  people when life  is great) while  lawyers like myself come in to help when  life is not-so-good.  This can be challenging to be in the middle of everyone’s crisis  day  in and day  out.  I practice both agriculture law and family law.  There is a saying that “criminal lawyers  represent bad people at their best and family lawyers represent good people at their worst.”  Somedays, it  can feel this way.

But this is what I feel called to do (i.e., help people on their worst days and help people in the middle of a crisis).  This is what  I’m trained to do and ultimately, like an ER Doctor, it brings me joy to be there for people in those times of need.

What is a typical day or week at work like for you?

I am asked this question a lot but  I don’t know if I have ever had  a typical week.  One of the things that I enjoy about my life and career is that each day and each week is very different.

I start my  day very early.  I wake-up  between 3am and 5am on most mornings.  I like to do my “Miracle Morning” if I  can with some time for mediation, reflection, journaling, visualizing my  day, listening to affirmations on my phone, and getting some exercise in.  I also try to  get a good hour of work in during this time when I usually work on a passion project or work on a project for a client that needs extra concentration.  Then I go do chores in my  barn.

During the COVID-19 pandemnic, I have been working from home but I  may  go  back to my  office soon.  I check-in with staff in the morning or have a weekly staff meeting on Mondays. My  workdays right now are pretty back-to-back with meetings, consultations, etc., which  makes it hard on some days for me to  stay on top of my  email.  I usually go to court about 1-3 times a week.  Due to COVID-19, courts  are starting to conduct hearings via Zoom videoconference.  Only time will tell on how  this will progress.  I even have a deposition scheduled via Zoom this summer.

What skills, abilities, and personal attributes are essential to success in your career path? 

I oftentimes say that  the key to my  success is  hard work, the kind I learned growing up  on my family’s  farm spending my summers bailing day, walking  beans and washing cattle on the  washrack.  It’s really that simple.  You will never  hear me  say that I’m the smartest person in the room.  In fact, if you are the smartest person in the room, then you’re in the wrong room – find a new room with people who are better than you so you can learn from them.  My  key to success is that I know how  to roll up my  sleeves and get the work done, farm girl style.

I am also courageous and not afraid to fail.  “Fail forward” is what I always say and learn from your mistakes.  Furthermore, I have always paved my  own path in life and different is good.  What works for some people might  not work for you so do not be afraid to write your own story.

Do you have any recommendations for other people I should talk to or other resources I should explore?

If you are interested in being an agriculture lawyer, the American Agriculture Law Association has a helpful directory of other agriculture lawyers like  myself.  I have also posted videos on my YouTube Channel about  becoming an agriculture lawyer.  Tiffany  Dowell Lashmet has a great episode on her Ag  Law and the Field podcast on the topic too.


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