Alyce Kliese, the 170th person I’ve met on my quest to have lunch with 500 strangers, has a sharp intellect – but I suspect that’s not the main reason she’s such a good lawyer.

More importantly, Alyce is a great communicator.

In person, Alyce is charming: she smiles often and is an excellent conversationalist.

When dealing with clients, Alyce makes a point of speaking to them in plain English (not legalese) and using the communications style they’re most comfortable with. That’s helped her build many great relationships and grow her practice.

In her spare time, Alyce publishes a blog, The Development Site, which covers environmental, planning and construction law issues. And, yes, it’s written in plain English.

Alyce used to be a civil engineer, but switched to law in part because she felt frustrated that clients pigeonholed engineers as people who understood numbers but lacked creativity. As a lawyer, Alyce is expected to have more than just a strong grasp of theory; she also needs to find creative solutions for her clients’ problems.

One thing on Alyce’s side is her clients turn to her for legal advice on the kinds of projects she built during her engineering days.