Editor’s Note: Everyone has been so impressed with this article on Puja from Deserve to Win Magazine (Issue 2)–tons of feedback and engagement!– that I decided to share on tcpaworld.com. You can AND SHOULD subscribe to our magazine for more incredible content like this. Do it now and SAVE if you subscribe for a year!
By Sadie Baker
Quick thought experiment for you.
Visualize a great lawyer.
I mean, literally imagine the image of a great lawyer in your mind.
What does he look like?
See, I can safely say “he” because for the vast majority of Americans the idea of a “great lawyer” almost certainly calls to mind a male. And, of course, “he” is most likely white. And, oh by the way, “he” is almost certainly a grey haired fellow in a dark blue suit carrying a briefcase.
Pretty close right?
Well, meet Puja J. Amin one of the most powerful lawyers in the nation who also happens to look nothing like what a great lawyer is supposed to look. And you don’t have to talk to her very long to understand that she loves breaking every stereotype the legal profession can throw at her.
“I love standing out. I think if the entire legal profession looked and dressed like I do it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun to be me.” She says with a challenging smile. “I have no problem being in a male dominated profession. There’s nothing wrong with that in my view, as long as I have the room to be who I want to be as an attorney—and so far, there has been.”
Indeed, Puja—who is better known by the nickname “Queenie” owing to her extremely prominent place in the legal profession— seems to enjoy maneuvering through the legal profession leaning into her femininity as opposed to fearing it. Her attire at times seems an act of defiance. Her trademark look includes bright colors, spiked Valentino heels and hemlines that rise far above the standard knee length skirts compelled in most law firms.
“People ask me whether the whole ‘Legally Blonde’ look works for me. That is frustrating. As a woman I want to look like a woman. And I know that people don’t talk that way these days—a woman can look however she wants, I get it—but for me, a woman should be able to look stylish, feminine and powerful.” Puja says resolutely. “Men have their power suits. They feel strong and confidant. That’s the way I feel when I am looking good in one of my outfits. The power is undeniable.”
And Puja is certainly powerful. With over a hundred corporate clients to her name— and more seemingly being added everyday—there seems to be nothing that can stop her momentum.
“It all comes down to integrity. Ultimately people want a lawyer they can trust. But if the lawyer hides who they really are behind pretense and lies how can you trust them?” Puja’s hands move at eye level as she speaks. “When people meet me they know exactly who I am and what I am about. What you see is what you get. Honesty. Integrity. A ton of experience and a ton of know how. Plus, a really sincere dedication to taking care of the client and putting their needs first.”
While Puja suggests the formula for her success is simple, in truth there was tremendous hard work behind her meteoric rise to national prominence.
“Puja is the only person I have ever met in my entire life that works harder than I do.” Says her partner Eric J. Troutman—better known as the “Czar”—whose own work ethic is something of legend. “I mean that. Puja is absolutely incredible. She never stops. Never gets tired.”
Her track record seems to support the claim.
Puja began her career as a machine gun litigator in one of the Czar’s heavy artillery class action defense shops before pivoting to an inhouse position at one of the nation’s largest mortgage lenders–loanDepot.
It wasn’t long before she was tasked with providing legal support for the entire enterprise marketing machinery for the company—including assisting its rise as the official mortgage lender of Major League Baseball and helping to guide the marketing team through the rigors of an IPO.
“My time at loanDepot was absolutely incredible. I was helping with marketing for Derek Jeter’s Marlins one minute and approving a national ‘Home Means Everything’ campaign the next.” Puja recalls fondly. “There was so much to do and things moved so quickly at the enterprise level, it was really an incredibly unique set of challenges. And the company had great leadership in my view—including my direct supervisor, General Counsel Peter MacDonald.”
Most germanely to her current practice, Queenie found herself tasked with vendor onboarding and compliance reviews for lead generation vendors that worked with loanDepot’s direct marketing division. “I took the role extremely seriously since [Telephone Consumer Protection Act] risk stems directly from the quality of lead providers the company worked with. I had to get to know these people fairly closely in order to assure that I could trust the product that was being sold.”
As a result of her role with loanDepot, Queenie made hundreds of contacts in the marketing world and found herself on the board of a major industry trade group dedicated to assuring a sustainable ecosystem in the direct to consumer marketing world. There she quickly gained notoriety as a sharply opinionated lawyer who would never back down from conflict and would push initiatives forward with confidence and speed.
“Look, nobody gets things done the way I do. Not trying to be cocky here, but if you want something done you need a hammer. And I know how to hammer.” Puja relays. “It is actually one of the advantages I have as a woman. The men are busy being gentlemanly. None of that for me. I can speak plain and simple and get it done.”
It was Puja’s otherworldly confidence and renowned ability to push things forward that lead the Czar to seek her out to create a new law firm, Troutman Amin, LLP. “There are very few people on Earth who can keep up with me. I am constantly in motion. Constantly moving forward. Puja was always right there, step by step, with me. And just so incredibly talented. The best lawyer I ever worked with—hands down. There was no question in my mind that I wanted Puja at my side for my new firm.”
There was just one problem though. Puja said “no.”
“I remember his face when he first asked and I declined.” Puja says with a chuckle. “Here he is—literally one of the most powerful men on Earth, so very very capable—pouting and unable to form a sentence because he was so shocked I turned him down.”
“That’s not quite how it happened.” The Czar recalls. “But I was definitely surprised and determined to get her on board.”
So Puja devised a test. If the Czar could complete a grueling 26 mile hike through the Cascade mountains—through a treacherous zone known as “Asgard’s Pass”—she would take the plunge and partner up.
But keeping up with her would not be easy.
In addition to Queenie’s incredible professional accomplishments she is also an elite endurance athlete. An ultramarathoner and 10 time Spartan Trifecta finisher, Puja runs an average of a 10k a day while spending hours in the gym each week.
“All I do is work and work out.” Puja explains. “Always have to be pushing myself. And I love it. Just love to compete against others but really competing against myself. Against my own limits.”
To her surprise, however, the Czar performed to her satisfaction on the mountain trek even carrying her bag at a point when the terrain slipped beneath her foot and she suffered a minor knee injury.
Queenie’s reaction to being on the cover..
“I’m not going to lie. I was impressed. He was beat up but he was still strong enough to help me at times—which I really was not expecting. And he never complained until the hike was over. And that is exactly the sort of grit and determination I wanted to see. Business is tough. There are going to be ups and downs. And really tough times. But you have to stay focused and see it through. Get to the objective. He was able to do that and I thought ‘Hey, this might work.’”
And it has worked, indeed. The incredible tandem behind Troutman Amin, LLP has created a powerhouse law firm that is nationally recognized in class action defense, privacy litigation, privacy counseling, CIPA, AI and—of course—TCPA and telecom issues.
But it is Puja who has brought the majority of the clients, contacts and enduring relationships—as even the Czar concedes.
“The truth is, people don’t always connect with me. They may need me. But very rarely do I connect with people.” The Czar acknowledges. “Puja, on the other hand, everybody appreciates her. Everybody respects her. And damn it, people really like her. Its pretty cool to see. And it makes our brand uniquely powerful and also attractive and very sticky. ”
There were a few terms, however.
“My name was going on the door.” Puja says chuckling. “And we were going to have a physical office. And everyone was going to dress great and look good everyday. No more black t-shirts for the Czar.”
“I didn’t like that part. I liked my t-shirts.” The Czar shares a proud smile before adopting a serious tone. “But the truth is, from the day Puja stepped in as a partner here it has been her firm. People know me as the Czar. They know what I am capable of. And they assume I run things around here. But the truth is I simply do not.”
“Its pretty equal actually.” Puja chimes in. “We really respect each other and work well together. So there is a lot of room for compromise. Then again, I do end up making most of the final decisions… so maybe I do run the firm after all.”
When asked about what the future holds Puja does not mince words.
“Look, we’re here to take over the world. We are going to do things the right way, day in and day out. We want every business in the nation to be out client. We want every lawyer in the nation to want to earn the right to work alongside us. We want to win every case. We want to push forward with initiatives that no law firm has ever dreamt up. We want to be the gold standard for the entire legal profession because we work hard enough to earn it. And its going to be tough. Its going to be grueling. And we want that. We welcome that.”
And ultimately, it seems, that is the true secret to Puja’s success—an earnest desire to be challenged, and to push herself for her clients.
“The winner most often is going to be the one who works the hardest. And that is always going to be me. Always.”