Herrell ’02 Mixing Law, Architecture
Sabrina Herrell ’02 prides herself in never backing down from a challenge. That was her attitude when she was a collaborating designer charged with refurbishing the 19th century building that houses the New Heritage Christian Center on the south side of Chicago.
“I just thought it was a fantastic building; it had a lot of structural challenges,” Herrell said of the building in the 5800 block of South Princeton Ave. “What I love about older buildings is that you have to work within certain parameters. The design challenge is ‘How do I achieve the client’s goals within these parameters?’”
A decade later, Herrell’s parameters are no longer support beams or vaulted ceilings, they are laws and codes, but her need to overcome those challenges remains the same.
“For some reason, I am crazy and I always love the extra challenge,” she said.
That is exactly what she told herself when she decided to halt her five-year career as an architectural designer in her native Chicago and attend law school at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.
Herrell first considered law school as an undergraduate student studying architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology, but after graduating she decided instead to pursue a career in design. During an internship in Chicago she also studied part-time to receive her MBA from DePaul University, but that wasn’t enough.
“After I became more involved in architecture out in the field on a daily basis, I saw all of the problems that occurred on construction sites,” Herrell said. “I realized that a law degree would be a really good fit for that environment. It just took a little convincing to go back to school.”
Another reason that she was drawn to law school was the fact that she has what she calls an “entrepreneurial spirit.”
Herrell, who worked at several small architecture firms before starting at Moritz in 1999, said that “when you deal with a small firm you wear a number of different hats. I learned so much that it made almost any transition doable for me, which helped a lot in switching to the field of law.”
In 2005 Herrell took that spirit and transformed it in to her own Chicago-based law firm, Logik Legal LLC. Logik Legal specializes in real estate law, construction law, architect and engineering law, and estate planning, among others.
“I wanted to be someplace where I could bring my experience to the forefront,” said Herrell, who worked for two smaller law firms doing family law, social security and real estate immediately after law school. “I wanted to be able to mix architecture and law and looking at all of the law firms in Chicago, there really wasn’t one that focused on that topic that seemed like the right fit for me.”
Logik Legal’s initial clients were mainly architects, design engineers, and contractors.
“It was a perfect fit because I was doing a lot of construction law,” Herrell said.
Soon, the firm started to grow, first in clients, and then in practice areas. Herrell started out alone but the firm has since grown to five attorneys. They began to take on more diverse cases outside of construction law, such as foreclosure defense.
“Part of my spirit is to help people,” Herrell said. While at Moritz, she was a member of the Student Housing Clinic, which provided a good background in landlord-tenant relationships and other real estate legal issues.
“At the student housing clinic we focused on tenant law rights,” Herrell said. “A lot of times we would try to mediate the issues when students would come in with a problem with their landlord. But also a lot of the time we would actually draft complaints.”
Dealing with evictions as part of the clinic has aided her in branching out in the field of foreclosure defense. But there is even more branching out ahead for Herrell.
“Over the next five years I want to begin to cut back my activity with the law firm,” said Herrell, who has a 1-year-old son and is planning a second child with her husband. “I want to spend significant time with my family, but I also want to move toward development. I want to be the architect, the lawyer, and maybe even the contractor.”