Ashlie Weeks – Reinforced Earth
If you follow Ashlie Weeks on X, formerly known as Twitter, or on Instagram or Threads, you would not expect to learn that she shunned all social media for more than a decade
“I hated it, and to some extent, I still do,” Weeks says. “But I can see the value in certain platforms and sharing my message of positivity. And it gives me an outlet to be myself and express myself, which is hard to do in my professional life.”
That profession is a lawyer—specifically, the acting general counsel for Reinforced Earth, a civil engineering design company recognized as the inventor of Mechanically Stabilized Earth retaining walls. The company, headquartered in Sterling, Virginia, supplies materials for retaining walls, arches, sound walls and related structures.
With extensive experience in risk management, Weeks focuses on reducing overall risk across the organization. She works closely with all the business units, ensuring they are appropriately trained on legal issues and terms, thereby limiting the company’s exposure to litigation and financial losses.
In addition, Weeks takes a proactive approach by reevaluating how the company negotiates and comes to customer agreements. This approach allows Reinforced Earth to stay ahead of the competition, be profitable, and continuously innovate in response to market changes.
“I think my efforts have resulted in a better customer experience, increased consistency and improved terms that align with Reinforced Earth’s current and future needs,” Weeks says.
But what she does outside the office is where she is most passionate.
Sharing her message
Weeks has nearly 44,000 followers on X, and she is just starting to build her following on Instagram. On social media, Weeks posts on everything from the weather, politics and social justice to pop culture, equity and inclusion and the things that bother her about society and the world. Her dog, Machetie, is a Staffordshire Terrier that weighs over 100 pounds and has his own popular X account. Weeks considers Machetie her consigliere.
During her conversation with Vanguard from her home in the Washington, D.C., area in November, Weeks’ personality and firecracker mentality came through the phone. It is easy to see why she’s had such a successful legal career—her charm and ease of communication would make any effort to try and outsmart her at the negotiating table a challenge.
“I believe if you have any platform and want to make a difference, you must be part of the difficult conversations. You must stand even if you are standing alone in the room. Without getting political, it’s just a responsibility if you care,” Weeks says.
The legal work
By implementing efficient policies and procedures, Weeks ensures that the company’s resources are focused on profitability and growth rather than administrative functions. She also designed a contract management system from scratch to enhance efficiency and support the company’s growth and development.
One thing Weeks has learned throughout her career is to always look at the fine print of any contract proposal. Sometimes, sophisticated, large companies try to sneak in language that benefits the company and may hurt Reinforced Earth—Weeks has learned to always read the fine print and not to assume every contract language is the same.
A contract is a contract is a contract, whether it is for real estate, solar energy, technology, employment, procurement, finance, trademarks and patents or another area, Weeks says. She says she has confidence switching between subjects and thinks she has good instincts when working with opposing counsel.
“I can guess what the opposing counsel is going to do and their strategy,” Weeks notes. “It’s an innate ability that you can’t teach. It’s natural.”
Weeks says 2024 will look much like 2023 with her work for Reinforced Earth.
“We continue to look forward with contract direction, efficiency and risk mitigation,” she notes.
More than a lawyer
Weeks was born in Florida and has spent half her life in the South, and the other half in the Midwest She earned a degree in politics and English from Lake Forest College, and her parents told her they’d pay for her to continue studying should she want to pursue medicine or law.
“I could’ve chosen many different fields, but I picked lawyer because I am a very good public speaker and quick thinking,” Weeks recalls. “I have a good ability to recall things and think I’m an excellent writer. Being a lawyer made sense.”
After earning a degree from the University of Illinois, Chicago School of Law, formerly The John Marshall Law School, Weeks spent some time as a contract attorney in Washington, D.C., and Nashville. She says she has always gotten along well with judges and opposing counsel and has a skillset and personality traits that fit the legal profession.
Looking back, Weeks says she didn’t go to law school thinking about practicing law, but while working for commercial developers, she got into real estate and negotiating contracts.
“Contracts are my specialty. It happens to be something I’m very good at,” she says. “You learn how to give and take, learn how to deal with different personalities and learn how to move seamlessly between subject matters.”
Weeks says she is happy with her generalist role because it allows her to use her expertise in contracts while being creative and innovative in dealing with other legal matters on behalf of Reinforced Earth.
“I like not being boxed in and being able to use all my skills and creativity each day,” Weeks says. “And I’m never going to stop fighting for the greater good.
View this feature in the Vanguard Winter II 2024 Edition here.
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