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JANIS SCHIFF

Washington DC Legal DC

Even though Holland & Knight partner Janis Schiff has spent 30 years as a real estate attorney, she still reps her first client: Leisure World developer Norman Dreyfuss. Her most memorable assignment, however, was a problem that involved a rockfish—when such creatures were banned from being caught in Maryland. "I maintained the client-lawyer confidentiality because of the rockfish" that was in the trunk of her client's car, she tells us. She’s repped developers on big projects like CityMarket at O, The Wharf, and CityCenter but says her greatest achievement has been her relationships with and building trust among her clients. Within H&K—which she joined in 1998—Janis runs the firm's rising star program for women, now in its 12th year, and previously served as the chair of the firm's 200-attorney national real estate department. Janis also just took on the chairman role on the Easter Seals board of directors.

Her secret weapon: adapting to changing times and views without losing who you are: “You've gotta suck it up a little bit.” When the Brandeis grad (snapped here with Roadside's Richard Lake and colleague Tara Scanlon) started, there were few women in senior positions. While all women eventually make Sophie’s choices between work and family, she says, the first women in the industry “made different choices; they didn’t have children and some never married." What’s next: she plans to keep repping clients but also spend a little more time doing philanthropic, community activities and traveling. To that end, she and her husband, Philip—CEO of the Maryland Tech Council—just scaled down to a two-bedroom condo at 14th & P streets.  Her son, Justin, is following in the family tradition as a first-year law student at the University of Miami.