In Alice Miller’s early days as accounting supervisor for the Kean Miller law firm, it was common to find the newly emigrated Hong Kong native crunching numbers in her office well after midnight.
“I was pregnant at the time, and I think a lot of people thought I was crazy,” Miller says. “But everything was new to me, and I was learning it all from scratch. So I really felt I had to work like that in the early stages. Whenever I’m dealing with something new, I want to understand it and master it.”
In 18 years with the firm, Miller clearly has mastered its finances. During her rise to chief financial officer—managing a staff of 11 and working with the firm’s decision makers—Kean Miller has tripled in size to become the largest law firm in the Capital Region.
“It cannot be overstated how important she has been to the growth of our firm,” Managing Partner Gary Bezet says. “You tend to think of a numbers person as being very methodical and showing little emotion. But Alice is really that rare and great combination of someone who has the numbers down cold and also knows the personalities behind them. That really sets her apart and makes her invaluable to us.”
Kean Miller’s philosophy has evolved with its physical expansion; the firm moved last year from its longtime headquarters in One American Plaza to a smaller space in II City Plaza. In the process, Miller has taken the CFO position from the back office to the front office.
“I work closely with the legal department, looking at how they’re spending their time and discussing which cases we should pursue and which we should settle,” she says. “With our clients, we really treat it as more of a partnership now and try to advise them not only from a legal perspective but from a financial perspective.”
Miller also is busy away from the firm. She and her husband have two children, 16-year-old Jasmine and 14-year-old Justin. She has served as treasurer for the nonprofit Friends of Atchafalaya and as treasurer for the LSU MBA Merged Alumni Association.
To keep up with the demands on her time, Miller is a diligent list maker. She no longer works into the wee hours of the morning, but she does routinely eat lunch in her office, during which she reads newspapers and magazines to keep up with global news. And she always makes time to have dinner with her family.
“To me,” she says, “that’s the only way to really stay connected to my children and husband.”
To decompress, Miller enjoys cooking traditional foods from Hong Kong. She also practices tai chi at home every other night and has attended a class once a week for the past decade.
“It helps to quiet my mind,” she says. “The focus is on positive energy and shifting weight to achieve balance, so I really find it to be a true reflection of life in general.”