Tell us your story. What kind of law do you practice? How did you get to where you are today?
I graduated law school unsure of what I wanted to do with my degree but sure of what I didn't want. I did not want to practice with a traditional firm with a firm billable requirement, and I also wanted a lot of temporal flexibility as I had a newborn baby at the time. So, I hung up my own shingle as a solo and did estate planning and family law.
I had sought out mentoring in both of those areas and knew I could handle them without a lot of support, and I learned a ton over the next few years. However, I never LOVED the practice areas. I would get occasional projects dropped into my lap by creative friends of mine who were bloggers, designers, makers, photographers who need legal help and had no idea where to go for help.
Bit by bit I began to do more work in the creative world and really enjoyed it. I loved being able to use my creative side (my mom was a costume designer) with my legal side (my dad was a mergers and acquisition expert), and I knew in my gut that I had something I needed to pursue. I rebranded myself and launched my official "attorney for creative entrepreneur" practice in early 2017 and have never looked back.
Currently, I help clients with intellectual property, contract drafting and revision, entity formation, and social media/internet law issues. I am still a solo -- working completely virtually from my home -- but I get to travel to some events and conferences in my niche and love being able to work with my creative people.
Why did you want to become a lawyer?
I wanted to help people, especially women and children. I did some interning for the US State Department and there were a lot of ex-attorneys there who recommended getting a law degree even if you didn't want to practice. They said, "when you have a law degree, people take you seriously", and they were absolutely right.
I love helping women become more confident business owners.
I have gotten a chance to help people in some of the ways I always wanted (some adoptions, have helped represent children in high-conflict divorces, have helped some domestic violence victims). And I really love that a lot of my clients are women business owners who are achieving their business dreams on their own terms. I love helping women become more confident business owners.
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?
Heck no! (is it smooth for anyone?) I had a hard time just doing the logic games for the LSAT (my mind does NOT work fast with issues like that... but give me those verbal questions ALL DAY EVERY DAY). And then law school was challenging, especially when I had rising fears of what I was supposed to "do" with my degree, especially graduating in 2011 after the recession had reared its ugly head across the legal profession.
I had a baby two weeks before my last law school final and remember nursing her in one hand while trying to study for tax law with the other and finish up my law review editing. It was a very surreal and overwhelming moment. And then, of course, I just had to study for the bar with a 2-month old. No biggie, right?
Well, I have four kids now and while I have been able to blend parenting and lawyering together, it doesn't mean it's been easy or glamorous. I've had permanent marker on my doors during client phone calls, and I have tossed a bag of Cheetos at my toddler to keep them quiet while talking to opposing counsel. I had to run to my hotel during the lunch break of the bar exam to nurse my baby while my mom spoon-fed me my lunch, and I've had whole legal pads of information "edited" by my "legal assistants" (aka pre-schoolers).
Mostly I've been so grateful to live in an age where there are so many choices available -- particularly to women -- and that I get to design a work life that fits with my priorities.
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 love hearing from my clients that, "You are the most easy-going attorney I've ever met." I don't want to paint with a broad brush stroke here, but lawyers tend to have some communication and ego problems that get in the way with genuine connection and humbly serving their clients, especially as a true counselor and business advisor. Especially with small businesses, creatives, artists, artisans (who guess what -- some have very profitable and growing businesses!) I try to be very careful about showing respect to my client and where they are at right now, including their business mindset and their hopes and dreams for it.
I try to be very careful about showing respect to my client and where they are at right now -- including their business mindset and their hopes and dreams for it.
I never make my clients feel "dumb" for asking questions, or for doing something because they didn't know better, or having a unique or novel job title or business. I've had clients who have told me horror stories about seeing an attorney who charged them a lot of money, gave them no relevant help, and made them feel very small about what they do -- whether someone is a dog-walker, a birth photographer, or a vegan baby food blogger. Making a client feel small says so much more about the lawyer than it does about the client, and none of it is good.
If you could change, improve or disrupt one thing about the practice of law, what would it be?
I would institute a national bar license. I think it is ridiculous to restrict attorneys from practicing (especially anything transactionally) outside of their state when the modern economy barely notices international, let alone, state boundaries. Attorneys are super traditional (to a fault many times), and this historical holdover is one of them for sure. Are there some crazy California laws? Yep. Does New York have some weird procedures? Yes. But, most of everything else is very similar and certainly the business owners are not being served by artificial boundaries on legal service competition.
What are you doing when you're not lawyering?
Singing in my minivan with my kids. Skiing with my family. Reading. Traveling. Issuing empty threats to my sewing machine. Scratching my husband's head.