Compton & Duling, LC in Woodbridge is a supporter of Leadership Prince William (LPW).
LPW is a non-profit that seeks to inspire and engage adult and youth leaders interested in making a difference in Prince William County, according to its website.
What’s Up Prince William spoke with Heather Steele, Compton & Duling’s litigation partner, about why Compton & Duling supports LPW and how LPW has helped her grow.
What is Compton & Duling?
Compton & Duling is a full-service law firm. I like to say we have five pillars of practice — we have a family law department; a real estate department; a business law department; a wills, trust and estates department; and a litigation practice. So, we’re a pretty well-rounded firm and, as I like to say, if we can’t handle a matter for you then we’ll try to find you someone who can.
What makes Compton & Duling a leader in the industry?
Compton & Duling, I think, is a leader in the industry mostly because of the history that we have in the community. So, the firm began in 1968, and so we’ve got a long background of having done some big projects in the county. We did the Potomac Mills development, we worked to help establish Dale City, we’ve represented a lot of builders and developers in the community as it’s come to grow and grow, and we’ve really had the opportunity to watch the Prince William community grow and expand. And so, we can use that history and that background to really help inform our clients as far as how they ought to progress in their cases. And it helps us to be able to really bring a strong background and a strong understanding of the community and its history, and we like to say, ‘Our history can be your future.’”
What do you believe makes you personally successful as a leader?
I would say it’s developing relationships, because it’s very hard to lead anyone if you don’t first establish a relationship with them, and when you’re an attorney — either leading staff members or leading your clients, or helping to negotiate a solution, or even help to convince a judge the status of your case — you need to be able to establish trust. And you can’t establish trust if you don’t have a relationship. So, for me, being able to be a leader is all about establishing relationships that help you to establish the trust that will allow people to follow your direction and let you lead them. So, leadership is relationships.
Why does Compton & Duling support Leadership Prince William?
Compton & Duling has supported Leadership Prince William for quite some time now. I had the privilege of being in the class of … 2012, and Jason Hickman in our office was in the class of 2011. But we’ve tried to support it really even before that. We find it [such a] crucial and important part of the community, because it just bring together people who might not otherwise ever have the opportunity to meet each other. And it also helps all of us learn more about our community and also about ourselves. So, we as attorneys need to be able to understand how best to communicate — our jobs are as communicators. And so part of the training that you get at Leadership Prince William is it helps you learn how to communicate with people who might think in a different way than you do. And that’s so crucial and helpful when you’re an attorney is to understand that a different personality than you may end up communicating or hearing what you’re saying entirely different than the way that you’re communicating it. So I find that to be a great skill set for us as attorneys, and then it’s so useful again going back to be able to serve our clients to know our community. So I think Leadership Prince William provides three distinct benefits for us, as a firm: [It] helps us to know ourselves, it helps to know others within the community and create those relationships, and it helps us to know the community and how it runs as a whole. So, that’s why we support Leadership Prince William.
How did Leadership Prince William help you grow?
I have had an incredible opportunity to be involved in many more boards in the community. Prior to being in the Leadership Prince William class I hadn’t participated on any boards or really held any sort of active role within any groups. I was just kind of a worker, an attorney here in Prince William, but I didn’t really get the opportunity or understand how it worked to get more involved until after I had been through the Leadership Prince William class. And so, as a result of that, I am now a member of the SPARK Education Foundation, which is Prince William County’s education foundation — and I’m a member of that board. I’m also a member of the Smart Beginnings board, which is a literacy and Kindergarten-readiness board for kids ages 0 to 5. And I discovered through Leadership Prince William that I really did have a passion for education and a passion for making sure that kids that are similar in age to my own kids — I had a baby during my Leadership Prince William class year — making sure that those kids in our community are provided for and are given the resources that they need. The other cool thing that I think came out of Leadership Prince William is that I realized how much our community is connected as a whole and some needs that our community has. So, I had the opportunity to write a book about Homeowner’s Association law, which is a practice area we have here at the firm. And then I’m going to get to donate the proceeds from the sale of that book back to Smart Beginnings. So, I’m getting to do my own little bit to help raise funds for an organization that I’m on the board of and care about, and I think all of that came to fruition as a result of my being involved with Leadership Prince William and the things I learned and the connections I made in that class year.
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