Denver Bar Association
March 2007
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7 Questions about Purpose and Transition for Warren Brown

by Matthew Crouch

Warren Brown left his career as a lawyer litigating health care fraud for the federal Department of Health and Human Services to pursue his dream to start a business. He founded CakeLove in 2002 with the sense that people wanted better cake. With a lot of hard work, positive word-of-mouth advertising, and direct marketing, Brown has grown CakeLove from a moonlighting project into a thriving retail business in Washington, D.C. CakeLove won the best bakery category in The Washington Post’s Best Bets reader poll in 2005 and 2006. He also was given the Small Business Person of the Year award for Washington, D.C. in 2006. Finally, Brown hosts the Food Network’s weekly show, "Sugar Rush." He has been recognized for his entrepreneurial spirit and featured by a number of media outlets, including The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Today Show, People, Southern Living, Black Enterprise and The Washington Post. Learn more at http://www.cakelove.com.

Denver Docket: As a lawyer-turned-baker, was there a defining moment when you knew that you were done being a lawyer?

Warren Brown: I was four or five months into my job and was asked to do a lot of research on a case. I was really excited because they were trying to file it with the Supreme Court. I expected people to be working late on this because it was so important. At 6:30 p.m. one night, I went to use the restroom and there was nobody in the office. Nobody at all but me. I understood why everybody left early — it had to do with how much we were paid — but it just didn’t feel like it fit for me. I knew a lot of my law school friends at private firms were working late, and I admired them — not for working late, but for the drive and tenacity of those positions. I longed for that. I wanted to be part of a team that was doing a lot of work.

It felt like I could work harder, and I wanted to work harder, but I was not really sure if I wanted that to be in the law. So, when I looked around, I thought: "I got to get out of here. This is not working and it is not a good match." I can’t say that I was looking forward to working in a private firm, either, so I asked myself what else I could do, and realized that I had felt this calling to the food business since I was a teenager.

DD: How did it start for you as a teenager?

WB: When I was a kid, I always liked to cook. I liked to cook and I liked to eat — I was always hungry. My mom cooked all the time for me, my sisters and my dad when I was younger, but by the time I was in high school, we didn’t come together every Saturday night to eat dinner. I started cooking Saturday dinner to make something for the family. It was a slow and maturing process to feeling comfortable in the kitchen, but I always liked it because I liked food.

DD: Was finding your purpose a long-term process?

WB: It was! The question I often ask myself is "what took so long?" There were many signs this was in my future — high school spring break reading a cookbook from cover to cover, and in college looking forward to meal-planning so that I could cook. It was a process. In a lot of ways I wish I knew what I was doing earlier so I could have started in my 20s, but you deal with life when it comes up and I have not regretted that with the time I have now.

DD: When you decided to transition away from law, did these memories help you reach the decision of being the person you are today?

WB: Yes. I think memories are where a person’s heart is and head is. Those memories are there for a reason. Memories are something you can plan from, draw from and grow from. I always have been fascinated by how many times I think of a certain memory. Some memories have more meaning than others.

DD: Do you consider yourself a multi-career person?

WB: I do. I consider myself a creative mind that is involved in business now. I love baking cakes more than I enjoyed law. I would love to say that I am an excellent businessman, but businessmen have a tough road, too.

DD: Which is harder — a businessman baking cakes or an attorney practicing law?

WB: Baking cakes is much more difficult. Law is not that easy, either, and the practice of law is very difficult. But the great thing about law is that it is definitive. I have so much respect for the court and its depth. Law is great because everyone knows the procedures and what is happening. Bake a cake; you are out there on your own. You have to make sure that your business is better than the others, out there, and you have to explain daily why people should come to you.

DD: What is your favorite law and why?

WB: Wow! That is a good question. … This might sound weird but I like procedure. My law professor for civil procedure turned it into a wonderful class that I looked forward to. It was difficult and I didn’t want to be called on, but it was still exciting. I loved the aspect of the rules and the maneuvering and knowing that your mind would have to work and the time frames. That is the one thing I don’t like about business — there is no procedure to squarely represent, but there is a constant set of unknowns. D

Matthew Crouch is an attorney with Riggs Abney Neal Turpen Orbison & Lewis. To contact him,
e-mail mcrouchlaw@yahoo.com.


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