Inside The Office Day 2, With Johnine Barnes

Johnine Barnes, a DC-based attorney, is today’s featured #CSuiteChick.  Johnine has had tremendous success in her career field, but she recognizes that life is so much more than that -- our careers are just one small part of our worlds.  Be inspired by what Johnine shares with us today -- about her mentors, her motivations, and what she believes is truly important in life.


What is your "day job"?

I’m an attorney. I’m a shareholder based in the Washington, DC office of Greenberg Traurig, LLP. I am Chair of the Labor & Employment Practice's Statutory Compliance and Contracts and Regulatory Practice Group. My practice focuses on management side labor and employment matters.


Who were your heroes, or mentors?

I never really had a hero, other than possibly Jesus. However, I have had lots of mentors and people who inspire me, as well.

Both of my grandmothers were inspirations to me. They were strong women who managed to raise and take care of their families virtually alone.

My mother and father are also inspirations in my life because they have done everything needed to provide opportunity and a good Christian-based upbringing for my sister and myself, and now they are doing the same for their grandchildren.

Betty Southard Murphy was a mentor to me. She was the first female chair of National Labor Relations Board. I had the honor of working under her for 13 years. She was very well respected in the labor field, and she taught me how to be an exceptional lawyer and how to practice law.

Stephanie Tubbs Jones, a congressional member from Cleveland, Ohio, was also a mentor. She taught me to always stay focused on the things that you want, and to never put anything out of reach. She always helped me to focus on the fact that I am not on my journey alone or for my own purpose and that I am bringing others along with me.

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When did you decide you would be an attorney, that this would be your journey?

I think that decision was made during my undergrad years.  I always had an interest in fairness and justice, and in the entire debate and negotiation process. After interning for Congressman Louis Stokes, I made the decision that I would go to law school as opposed to going straight into public service. I thought I could be a more effective advocate for others with a law degree. Aside, I wanted a few more years before permanently entering the workforce, and becoming an adult.  After I went to law school, I decided I wanted to practice law to effectuate change in society.

If you weren't an attorney, what would life look like?

I have a lot of things I would do.  I think I definitely would be involved in education in some manner. I do not know if I would be a great full-time teacher; patience is more than a virtue. But, if I did teach I would like to possibly teach 5th or 6th grade. In 5th and 6th grade, you can disassemble any bad habits and practices that kids may have learned, and assemble and teach new practices as well.

If you had it all to do over again, would you do anything differently?

I don’t think I would do anything differently. Life is meant to teach you to learn from your mistakes and become better. Every thing that I have gone through in life, even the not so good moments, has taught me a lesson.

What do you do for you that brings you absolute joy or peace?

Exercising. I love to run and engage in physical activity to challenge my both my physical and mental toughness. I like to travel, and to occasionally read. I read so much for work and for Jonathan (my son), that it’s rare that I get an opportunity to read something for myself and really enjoy it.

Also, spending time with family is important to me. I like vacationing and traveling with my family as well as just hanging out together.

What would you like your epitaph to be?

I wouldn’t want it to be about me. I would want it to be about God’s grace and mercy.

In one word, what is it that you want people to remember about you?

Love. I hope that people will remember me as being someone who loved the things that I said I valued and treasured; those things being God and my family.  I would want to be remembered as someone who showed and bestowed love upon others.

Is there anything else you wish I'd asked you?

"What’s important in my life?" You’re doing pictures for executives, however most of my responses have little to do with what I do for a living.

I think that often, people think that their epitaph has to be about their personal accomplishments and achievements. I don’t take those for granted, but I don’t believe that is what my life and purpose are about. It’s what I do for a living. To the extent that I can use that to help people -- volunteer, go into schools and teach street law, teach people about what their employment rights are, provide employment and career opportunities for others, or a living that allows me to give to others less fortunate -- that’s what should be primary.  It’s how you can help and mold others, not what you can personally achieve, that is truly important.