The Lawyer's Edge
The Lawyer's Edge
Jun 28, 2022
Niki Schaefer | How a Stroke at 38 Changed a Lawyer’s Approach to Life and Work
Play • 43 min

Niki Schaefer is the Vice President and General Counsel at ReliabilityFirst, a company that ensures the Mid-Atlantic electric grid is reliable and secure.

Niki spent the first half of her career as a Commercial Litigator at Benesch Friedlander Coplan & Aronoff, a large law firm in Cleveland, Ohio. She spent the second half of her career in a variety of in-house roles, initially on ReliabilityFirst’s legal team. She proceeded to sharpen her expertise as a litigator in general counsel roles for a variety of business units at Eaton Corporation, a large manufacturing company based in Cleveland. 

Two years ago, Niki returned to ReliabilityFirst as its General Counsel after suffering a stroke that not only impacted her speech and balance, but also her life and career. Niki believes that the changes she made to her life and work as a result of her stroke were a catalyst for achieving a balance and happiness she hadn't known beforehand.

In this episode…

Many ambitious lawyers fall into the trap of overworking themselves, saying “yes” to everything that’s asked of them, and putting their career before their own health. For Niki Schaefer, this kind of lifestyle led to a horrific experience — and forced her to change her approach to her life and work.

Amidst the hustle and bustle of her career, Niki suffered a stroke. While taking 10 weeks off to recover, she had the most self-reflective moment: she needed to decide what was most important in her personal and work life and draw boundaries. When returning to the workforce, Niki’s stroke empowered her to say “no,” delegate tasks, and respond to uncontrollable situations in the most beneficial way possible. Now, she’s living a happy and well-balanced life inside and outside of work. 

In this episode of The Lawyer’s Edge Podcast, Elise Holtzman sits down with Niki Schaefer, Vice President and General Counsel at ReliabilityFirst, to talk about how her stroke transformed her life. Niki describes the factors that contributed to the stroke, the pause that helped her shift priorities, and tips for being confident in your judgment — despite society’s expectations.

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