Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get to where you are today?

I'm a small business and tax attorney who works primarily with creatives and digital nomads.

In undergrad, I was all over the place academically. My majors were Russian and political science. I also took 25 credits worth of business classes, six semesters of German, and an intensive course in Ukrainian. I considered art and graphic design among several other paths. I loved health policy and started an MPH program after graduation. It wasn't my jam, so during my first year, I made a last minute decision to go to law school.

I applied to 21 schools and ended up in San Diego at California Western. I ended up working part time for H&R Block, which I also quite enjoyed. During my JD, I interned in some great law firms mostly doing medical malpractice. I didn't love it. In the back of my mind, I always dreamed of being an entrepreneur. It suddenly dawned on me that I didn't need a novel idea to be self-employed. I could go solo after school.

In my very last semester, I took federal income tax and loved it. I decided to get my tax LLM from USD. In that year, I planned for the launch of my practice while also working part time for H&R Block. In my first 6 months as a solo lawyer, I contemplated a lot of services but finally realized that I could marry my creative interests and passion for entrepreneurship by working with whom I have now dubbed "creativepreneurs." I also flex my tax brain by working with digital nomads on their international tax issues. As a result, I, in a way, get to incorporate all that random stuff I studied in college while providing startup legal services, tax consulting, tax prep, and bookkeeping.

I'm contemplating sitting for the CPA exam and have several other exciting projects in the works. Only time will tell what direction my practice heads from here.

Why did you want to become a lawyer?

Oh boy. This is a tough one. I was the kid that always heard "You like to argue. You Should go to law school." Well, we all know that's not a good reason. Turns out that while I love politics and debate, litigation isn't really my thing. I would have never imagined that I'd become a transactional attorney, but I love it because I get to talk to, work with, and educate small business owners.

I would have never imagined that I'd become a transactional attorney, but I love it because I get to talk to, work with, and educate small business owners.

I really ended up becoming a lawyer because during my one year in grad school, all of my poly sci friends were 1Ls. I would hangout while they studied. Oddly, I was much more fascinated by their discussions of civil procedure and property law than I was about my epidemiology reading. I decided health law may be the route to go rather than public health. I liked all the boring health issues like health finance.

That realization is what made me stumble my way into law school. Like most others, my plans changed once I got there, but I quickly learned that even if I weren't committed to the same area of the law I thought I might be, law school was the right place for me to end up.

Was it a smooth road becoming a lawyer and getting to where you are now? If not, what are some of the struggles you encountered?

Yes and no. I made a pretty last minute decision to apply to law school. My LSAT studying was subpar, and my score ended up reflecting that. Most of my college friends were at top 25 law schools, so I planned, and thought, I needed to go to one as well.

I had a bit of a panic, but decided to roll the dice and move cross country to attend a school that I had just learned about via Google searches a few months earlier.

School was great. I loved it. I did have a bit of a crisis at the end struggling with my desire to work on my own and what I felt were the expectations of others that I go work for a big firm or a big four (after the LLM). Being the stubborn person I am, I decided not to apply to any post-bar jobs. Instead I focused all my attention on how to build a law practice my own way.

I'm still relatively new at this whole thing. I'm not quite two years in, but in the last year, I have find my groove. I identified my ideal clients and ironed out my service offerings. I'm sure there are more struggles to come, but I'm happy with the trajectory of my business.

What are you most proud of as a lawyer? What sets your practice apart from others? What do you love the most about what you do?

I'm proud that I often defy expectations of non-lawyers and potential clients. I have marketed myself as the attorney that wears Birkenstocks and jeans everyday. I get many of my clients from Instagram. I even have a tagline on my website that says "Your gay best friend, but an attorney who can also do your taxes."

"Your gay best friend, but an attorney who can also do your taxes."

Most of my clients are women between the ages of 25 and 40, and my web copy and marketing resonates with them. I also offer services that are quite a bit different than most firms. I do a lot of consultations to advise clients on DIY options when it comes to business formation.

I'm working on my second ebook and an online course on how to legally setup a business. The idea behind my business model is that there are thousands of new, service based business owners out there who can't afford a business lawyer, but still need legal help. I'm trying to find efficient ways to serve that market.

If you could change, improve or disrupt one thing about the practice of law, what would it be?

I find so much about the practice of law to be antiquated and inefficient. My mantra/tagline is "personalized service for personalized goals via transparent rates and transparent processes all while educating clients to be savvy-er business owners." I use this because I now have to compete with legal zoom, which is not personalized and fails in many respects to deliver value to business owners.

On the other hand, I believe that the practice law often fails in its pricing and services in regard to transparency and in regard to really serving clients best. I also place a strong emphasis on education. I want my clients to know the why. There's a big gap between automated online services and the "done for you" services of traditional law practices that bill by the hour at high rates without keeping their clients in the loop.

These are the things I'd to see change. Meanwhile, I believe that myself and others who fill this gap will benefit and grow.

What are you doing when you're not lawyering?

Tennis, volleyball, basketball, cooking, chillin with my husband and dogs, and binge watching TV (mostly RuPaul's Drag Race).

Dawn Silva Photos
Wanna get in touch?
600 B Street, Suite 300, Suite 300, San Diego, CA, 92101