And in This Corner

Annie McBride knows how to throw a punch—and how to take one

Published in 2020 Louisiana Super Lawyers Magazine

Of all the lawyers to have at your back in a dark alley, Annie McBride, a lean, soft-spoken, 5-foot 6-inch transactional attorney who says she prefers negotiation over litigation, might not top your list at first glance. 

But McBride is as skilled with her fists as she is with her words. The Stone Pigman Walther Wittmann associate is a past silver medalist in the Women’s National Golden Gloves competition held by USA Boxing.

“Boxing satisfied a need in me to overcome my fears, and that was life-changing,” she says. 

McBride, 34, always sought ways to challenge herself physically. In high school, she played softball and field hockey, and she ran cross-country in college. And it was after her undergraduate years at Loyola that she finally found herself in the ring. 

“One reason I started boxing was because it was around the time I started coming out as a gay person,” she says. “Standing in the boxing ring and realizing I had the courage to be my true self and live my life in an honest way—that changed my life in so many ways.”

After training with a local boxing coach, McBride began fighting in a host of U.S. National Amateur matches across the Southern region. She loved the physical conditioning it demanded. “You have to be in good shape, and you’ve gotta be quick,” she says. “You get gassed. If you’re not in good shape, you’re dead at the end of those rounds.”

“Boxing is scary,” she adds. You know you’re going to get hit, but there’s always a chance an opponent might land a “bad” punch and do serious damage. “While punches themselves kind of hurt, the risk of one landing wrong is frightening,” she says.

Once she stopped fighting competitively a few years ago, McBride sought to help other young women as a part-time boxing coach. One of her protégés, Sara Gottesman, trained with McBride for about 18 months and says the benefits went beyond the physical. Now a med student at the University of Louisville, Gottesman says that she carries with her the “self-reliance, discipline and pride” she learned from McBride. 

“People tend to think of boxing as brutish and unsophisticated,” Gottesman says. “But for a lot of us it’s about knowing your limits and training to a point where you believe you can trust yourself.”

McBride trusted herself to make the leap from high school math teacher to Loyola Law School student in 2012. She joined Stone Pigman in 2016, shortly after graduation. 

Despite her competitive instincts, she was quickly drawn to transactional work. “Litigation is a zero-sum game where there’s always a winner and a loser,” she says, whereas transactional law focuses more on negotiation and cooperation to find innovative solutions. “I like that you’re working with other people toward a result, toward closing a deal.”

Scott Whittaker, who headed Stone Pigman’s business section at the time of her hiring, says McBride “showed more poise and exuded more confidence” than the average rookie lawyer.

“Annie was thrown into a very responsible position with a large client right off the bat,” he says, “and the way she handled it impressed both me and the client.” 

These days, when McBride isn’t joining her wife to play slightly less dangerous team sports like kickball, she’s taken up another uncommon pursuit: improv comedy. As a member of an all-women Foxhole Improvisational Comedy Troupe, she does weekend performances at local theaters and brew pubs. “It’s just so fun,” McBride says.

As for what hurts more, a punch to the jaw or a tough comedy crowd: “A punch to the jaw, for sure—especially with a mouthguard in.”

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