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10 Questions: Traci Bransford

Photo of Traci Bransford
Traci Bransford; Partner, Stinson

1 What is your elevator pitch?

I represent clients in the entertainment and sports field. I also serve as general counsel to some of Stinson’s clients in health, retail, education, and media industries. My practice also often intersects with the estate planning division based on some of the professional athletes and entertainers that I represent that have philanthropic endeavors requiring that level of expertise.

2 What is the best part of your job?

Working with a variety of super interesting, talented, and creative clients that I serve on a daily basis. Each day is different, and I love that.

3 Why did you decide to go to law school?

I chose law school because I enjoyed my political science and sociology classes at Spelman College. Also, because many of my mentors in the legal field told me that I could enter many different professions with a legal degree, which is true.

4 What are the top three skills or traits that are important for a successful entertainment, media and sports attorney to have?

The ability to listen is number one, because my clients will share what they need for me to know and not necessarily what I want to hear. So, to be responsive and block out the “industry” noise is extremely important to address their needs. Sometime this takes many long hours of conversation, but that is what builds the trust. The ability to dissect a contract during review and reject what may appear to be standard in negotiations, as the devil is always in the details. The ability to enjoy your clients’ professions: attend their events, support their industry functions without getting lost in the notoriety of what they do for a living. With those traits you remain objective and can handle their business and not fall into the status of “fan,” which often plagues sports and entertainment attorneys.

5 You represent pro and retired athletes. What is your favorite sport, and why?

I can’t pick one. I’ve always loved track and field, perhaps because I ran track in high school. I love watching basketball and football, too. I also have a soft spot for watching boxing.

6 What advice would you give to young attorneys of color?

Enter “big law” with your own sense of self. Don’t look for the firm or anyone else to provide you with what you personally need to feel good about yourself in your position, as that should be instilled in you from within, before you join the firm. Positively approach the profession you have chosen because the privilege of practicing law is just that. As a black woman in big law, you won’t see many people like yourself because the numbers just aren’t there for a variety of reasons, but it is your duty to reach down and pull someone up with you to help make a better profession for all of us.

7 You practiced law in New York and California before moving to Minnesota. How does practicing law here differ from other places?

Practicing law in Minnesota is cloaked in “Minnesota Nice.” That is not the case in California or New York, and I will let the readers decide what that means to them on an individual basis.

8 If you weren’t a lawyer, what would you be?

A doctor.

9 What book is on your nightstand?

Becoming by Michelle Obama.

10 What is your go-to for handling stress and managing work/life balance?

I do a variety of things given the particular day and stressor. Some days I exercise, get quiet, take a nap, meditate, listen to music, watch mindless television, or laugh with family and friends—because at the end of the day we cannot afford to let stress take us out as life is truly too short.

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