Women Worth Watching 2015

Christine D. Hanley

This Partner Helps FordHarrison Lawyers and Staff Grow Great Careers


web FordHarrison_HanleyA graduate of The University of Miami Schools of Law (JD) and Business (MBA), Christine Hanley founded and grew her own law practice before merging her 20-year business into FordHarrison in 2013. Leading without ego, she provides the resources, support, and environment that facilitate the professional growth of staff and lawyers alike.

“Starting my own practice in 1983 was my biggest career leap,” said Christine. “Twenty years and 600+ corporate clients later I learned that Calvin Coolidge was right when he said ‘Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence…persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.’”

Board certified in Labor & Employment Law by the Florida Bar and certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources by HRCI, Christine’s practice is largely preventive. She has counseled and advised hundreds of clients in scores of industries to bring or keep them in compliance with workplace laws, rules, and regulations, so they can concentrate on their businesses. Christine has also presented training programs on employment law, labor law, risk avoidance, and more for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County (BGCPBC), BGC of America, the local Chamber, and dozens of other organizations.

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence…”

Christine has served as BGCPBC vice chair of operations and legal since 1998, and has been a member of its board since 1994. She is also general counsel and a trustee of the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches, as well as a former board member.

The recipient of many well-deserved accolades, Christine received the 2014 Private Sector Leadership Award from Executive Women of the Palm Beaches, the 2011 Athena Business of the Year award, the 1999 “Pro Bono Employment Law Award,” and the 2010 “Pro Bono Firm Award” from Palm Beach County Legal Aid Society. She is “AV” Rated by Martindale-Hubbell, a Florida Super Lawyer (since 2006), and recognized by The Best Lawyers in America (since 2008).

Notwithstanding, she’ll tell you she’s never worked a day in her life. Christine tends to smile … a lot.

Education: MBA and JD, University of Miami

My First Job: Photographer’s Assistant, Santa Claus Photos, Palm Beach Mall

What I’m Reading: “Mere Christianity” by C. S. Lewis

The most important quality a woman leader should have is…


The career advice I’d give my former self:

Stop obsessing about “bad hair” days . . . they come, they go, they’ll come again.

Words I live by:

Do It because you can. Do it because it needs doing. Do it because it is the right thing to do.

The one thing I’d do differently in my career, knowing what I know now, is…

…I have no idea. The ride has been so interesting and the place I am now so lovely that I’d not want to risk doing something that might put me someplace else.

When I really need to focus on a project, I…

…work to “see” what the finished project looks like, sleep on it for a day or two and then set pen to paper.

My biggest career leap (and what I learned from it) was…

…starting my own practice in 1983. Twenty years and 600+ corporate clients later I learned that Calvin Coolidge was right when he said “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence…persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

Being a woman in my profession has been…

…less remarkable to me than lookers-on and as matter-of-fact as my hair or eye color. I am neither hindered nor empowered by the wrapper that I inhabit.

I’ve learned that failure is…

…an opportunity for a do-over; and impetus to be better, to learn, to really stretch and grow.

I maintain a healthy personal life by…

…making it all seamless (our friends are our clients are our colleagues) and always wearing my sense of humor (packs easily, shakes out nicely, perpetually stylish).

I knew my present career was what I wanted to do when…

…I realized that I was not working — work is not a burden and serious business can be fun.