By Jane Wooldridge
The Miami Herald.
As co-president of legal powerhouse Greenberg Traurig, Hilarie Bass is one of the most powerful women lawyers in the country.
As a litigator, Bass led the effort to overturn Florida’s ban on gay adoption and has been a key player in suing Chinese manufacturers of defective drywall.
She has won numerous awards and appears on state and national lists of super lawyers and top litigators, and is a past chair of the American Bar Association’s litigation section.
Clients have included Microsoft, Hilton Hotels and Goldman Sachs.
Long before she was named to her current post, Bass became a familiar face in Miami’s civic circles, supporting community efforts from the Orange Bowl Committee to her alma mater of University of Miami, where she graduated summa cum laude from the law school.
She has stomped grapes to promote a United Way fundraiser (she’s a previous United Way chair) and recently committed $1 million to UM, where she is vice chairman of the board of trustees.
That’s quite a return for the university, where Bass was a scholarship student who turned to soda bottle deposits to pay for supplies.
Bass’s entire career has been spent at Greenberg Traurig, in large part thanks to the mentorship of one of its name partners, the late Mel Greenberg. Much of her time now is spent coaching young lawyers.
Despite her dedication to the legal profession, the Miami native never imagined going to law school. The daughter of a folk singer/actor, Bass studied at New York’s Actor’s Studio and was headed to the stage — until the soap opera she appeared on was canned.
Q. Before you became a lawyer, you were interested in drama. Tell us about that.
A. I started acting at age 12, performing in the show JB at the Coconut Grove Playhouse, as well as other shows at Studio M and later at Miami’s Coral Park High School, where I won the Silver Knight Award for Drama. After graduating from college in three years with a degree in political science, I went to New York to study under Lee Strasberg and landed various Off Broadway roles. My biggest achievement was a recurring role on the soap opera, Somerset. Had the show not gone off the air, I might never have gone to law school.