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Welcome to

Building and Securing a Legacy with Sara Ovando

Season 1, Episode 017

In this episode of Legally Blissed Conversations, we are joined by Sara Ovando, founding partner of Ovando Bowen LLP – a law firm focusing on estate planning, probate litigation, trust administration, business, and civil litigation.

Sara was born and raised in Orange County, but her family hails from Guatemala. Prior to becoming an attorney, she was an esthetician and a certified yoga instructor. Today, she’s the founder of a beauty business alongside her sister, the law firm alongside her husband, is obtaining her Certified Financial Planner certificate, and is learning new languages in addition to fluently speaking English and Spanish. Above all her endeavors, Sara’s primary focus is on being a mom to her daughter.

Shownotes

Website: https://www.ovandobowen.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sara-ovando-bowen-98937853/

Instagram:@ovandobowenllp

Transcript

DISCLAIMER: The following is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases, it is incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.

Suzi: I would love to welcome everyone to the legally bliss conversations and I would especially love to welcome Sarah Ovando today, Sarah is a founding partner Ovando Bowen LLP. While an undergraduate school Sarah work for the Long Beach courthouse self help center. There she’s learned about family law and landlord tenant law. She thoroughly enjoyed helping clients with their cases. This led her to switch from applying to a P PhD Site D program to JD programs. After passing the California Bar. Sarah worked at a small firm in Orange County where she practiced personal injury, bankruptcy and employment law. In 2017. Sara and her husband, brave souls here, open their own firm Ovando Bowen, LLP. Their practice focuses on business litigation, probate and estate planning. Sara was born and raised in Orange County, her family hails from Guatemala. Sara is fluent in Spanish. Prior to becoming an attorney. Sara was an esthetician and a certified yoga instructor. Sara is a huge animal lover in plants opened her own farm sanctuary. She enjoys being part of the beauty industry traveling around the world learning new languages. She is a beginner in French and Chinese and of course, being a mom. So welcome. I’m so happy to speak with you today, Sarah and learn a little bit more about your journey. So yeah, so the last time we did have a very brief conversation probably about a month ago. And we talked a little bit about law. But we also talked about beauty And the beauty industry. So do you want to give me any updates on what’s going on in your world?

Sara: Well, so last time we spoke, so I have a side business with my sister called Indian Ari. It’s a cruelty free beauty boutique. And we started this back in 2016. After I was studying I after I took the bar, I started this business with my sister, because we’re both vegan and couldn’t find anything. Well, we could but it was a hassle, right? Having to read labels and all that stuff. We wanted it to be an easy one stop shop where everything was cruelty free and or vegan. So we created it ourselves.

Suzi: Let me ask you the name of the of the brand is nd

Sara: Yeah, so I n di and RA ar y it’s a play on our names.

Suzi: I love it and I’m gonna keep an eye on you. And it’s vegan business. I think that sounds amazing. So speaking of of like naming your law firm, Vonda Bowen. 

Sara: Okay, so that was actually funny. Because my husband’s actually an attorney much longer than I have been, he is much older. So he’s been an attorney for 10 years or so. And then I, I wasn’t and, you know, so when we got together, he’s like, hey, I want to open up a law firm with you. Because I think you’re smart and you’re capable, and you already have an entrepreneurial spirit, like, you know, so why not? But I wanted to get my feet wet first, you know, because I don’t feel comfortable just diving right out of getting, you know, passing the bar to opening up a firm personally, I mean, some people I know do it, but I just don’t. So in coming up with the name, right. Obviously, most attorneys put their last name as the firm name, and my husband’s last name is Bowen. But when I thought of the logo and the and how it’s gonna look, it’s be Oh, and I’m like it’ll

Suzi: Oh, and I’m like it’ll anyone that I just thought you’re like, I should go first.

Sara: You know, he’s the senior partner. So the senior partner right always goes first and then the junior partner except Except when you have someone like me Who looks at this FedEx look at the logo. And I was like, that’s not gonna work. We can’t have our logo having Bo and people, you know, saying bow and Ovando. And it just didn’t feel it didn’t look right to me smart.

Suzi: I think it’s smart. So

Sara: we switched it to Vonda Bowen, and he’s not. I love him for many reasons, but he’s not, you know, a ego type or man, you know, this toxic masculinity type. He’s like, sure, whatever, I don’t care.

Suzi: Okay, so let’s talk about practicing with husbands.

Sara: So, it’s actually not as bad as I thought I was always against working with a spouse, I’m like, why would I want to be all day with my spouse, and then come home and see them again, like, it’s too much, I’m gonna get bored, you know, all that stuff. But it’s actually works out really well, because we both get along really well. He’s very strict at work, but I’m very strict at home. So I think it balances out like, and he’s, we’re both able to keep work work, you know, we don’t bring it home. And it’s actually nice, because, you know, as an attorney, we have a lot of stress, and be able to speak to a partner who understands that stress, and especially one who’s your business partner, too, and making executive decisions together on hiring or firing and the expansion of the company and growing a company together, it’s actually been really fun and rewarding for both of us. And we actually really enjoy it. So it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be, at least not with him, maybe because he’s such a great guy. And he’s really funny and always joking around, but takes, you know, the log very serious. And I think we balanced each other out.

Suzi: I like how you kind of preface that, like, it was like, it was not as bad as I thought it was going to. I mean, I think it’s better. It’s better that way than like kind of going into rose colored lenses. And see, it’s gonna just be daisies and rainbows entire time. Right? I mean, working with family is hard. I’ve my parents have had a business together for years, or they’re retired now, but did have a business together for years. And so I have been able to see couples working together like it, but I do love that you. You mentioned a turn it off like you, you turn that off? Have did you all come to an agreement, and that you all would turn it off at 445 every day? And then when you left the office, you would be like, you would leave it there or how to do it.

Sara: You know, it kind of just happened? Uh, you know what, to be honest, it’s you. I mean, I’m sure you know, it’s really hard to take off the lawyer hat. Because when you get home, you’re like, Oh, my God, especially with us with litigation. It’s I mean, we have motion deadlines, a hearings, trial, all that stuff. So when we get home, we’re always thinking about work, like, Oh, my God, that I emailed that person. The motion is due tomorrow. Did I do enough? You know, we need to get an extension, all that stuff. So we’re still thinking about it when we’re at home, but we’re not getting worked up about it. You know, when we’re with the baby, I call her the baby even though she’s two and a half already, but she’s our baby baby.

Suzi: My 15 year old niece is my baby. Okay.

Sara: Exactly. No, we have family time. You know, I don’t want that to get in the way of family. And then you know, when she goes down, or if we have some alone time, then you know, sometimes we’ll talk about work, but we don’t let it consume us completely. When we’re at home. I want it to be family time or our time. You know, as partners. I think that’s the most important if you’re working with your partner is understanding that and especially after you have kids too. Is that your partner’s right? That’s how you guys got together in the first place your partner’s first before anything else. So I think yeah, I think we’re just both mature enough to not bring it home and not get upset. Like, we yell at each other. It’s here, right at home about work stuff, right? We’ll at home, it’s about home stuff. You know, I we try not to yell at home though, because we don’t want to give up, you know, bad input.

Suzi: Every now and then you gotta yell, right? 

Sara: I mean, especially when you’re Latina. It’s really hard. I love it. But yeah, I don’t know. I just we just understood. That’s how it’s done.

Suzi: Yeah, yeah. So this is one. When I had reached out to several people about my podcast and you reached back out to me, I thought your story seems so interesting. Because you work with your husband, and you all are doing these a little differently. And also, like after talking to you one thing I loved about what kind of your story is that you’re not just the lawyer, right? Like you are also, well, your mom and your wife, and you’re also an entrepreneur. So I would love for I would love to learn a little bit more about like how your legal experience and expertise is, kind of bleeds into your entrepreneurial spirit.

Sara: Well, you know, I actually, I feel like I got the onto entrepreneurs for for my mom, because she owned her own business and a single mom and she got her business and everything. And so when I became an attorney, it def, I mean, I took a bunch of business classes, I actually wanted to get my JD MBA, I wanted to do a joint program. But the you know, as you know, law school is way harder than I anticipated.

Suzi: hard enough, right.

Sara: I was like, I’ll get my MBA later. But I took all the business courses and intellectual property courses during school. And so in the process, I was able to formalize more of my mom’s business, you know, I understood things a little bit better. And then when I created our business with my sister, same thing, and understanding contracts, and really reading them, not just glazing through really quick, you know, and, especially, you know, when you’re getting a lease, commercial leases, you know, I had learned about landlord tenant, and tenants have a lot of protection. But when you’re in a commercial lease, it’s considered an equal, you know, so I really look more into that. And like, what you can and can’t do in a lot, you know, depending on who your landlord is, if you have a giant landlord, it’s really hard to even try to negotiate anything, because they have people wanting their space all the time, versus maybe a smaller landlord, you can negotiate a little bit better. And that’s why I did with this place. So I think just having a legal background, just helps you understand some of those contract provisions much better understanding arbitration, and what that means and the differences between arbitration and mediation and trial. You know, a lot of people are like, Oh, isn’t it the same thing? And it’s obviously that.

Suzi: And then,

Sara: I think for understanding operating agreements, you know, those kinds of things, putting those things into place, and business succession, which I am really into now, because the estate planning, you know, a lot of business owners don’t think about the future, they just think about today

Suzi: we don’t want to think about those things, right? Oh, really.

Sara: So you know, it’s like, what’s going to happen? Who’s the business going to be left to if I become incapacitated, or I die? So you know, it’s very real. And I don’t think people understand how real being coming and incapacitated or disabled is, right. And I think it’s our job as attorneys to always look at risk. And I think that’s what makes me a better business person is because I’m constantly aware of the risk. Everyone’s like, Oh, you’re so negative. It’s like, No, I’m just being realistic. And I’m an attorney, and I see everything that could potentially go wrong. And I want to avert some of those risks, if I can. So I think that’s how it’s helped. 

Suzi: Now, I am very similar. And I’m curious, I’m wondering if it’s like, if being a lawyer has sort of trained us to kind of always be looking out for the next big obstacle, right? Because it’s like everything, or is it just kind of our nature to always be looking for risks, and that’s why we are awesome attorneys now, right? So with maybe a little bit of both, right?

Sara: Yeah, I definitely. Well, my mom’s definitely always like, oh, you know, more on the cautious side. So I think she instilled that in me, but she’s also like, just go for it. When I told her we wanted to start with my sister, and I wanted to start business. And then when my husband and I are like, Oh, go for it, you know, might as well while you’re young. I think anyone can start a business at any age.

Suzi: But I totally agree. And I think it’s amazing that you seems like you have a lot of your inspiration from your mother. Oh, yeah. Can you tell me a little bit about that? I’m curious, like, what does she like?

Sara: Well, she’s very, you know, like I said, I was raised by single moms. So you know, she raised my sister and I and she created her business. She had a house cleaning business. And you know, she’s always been and she’s always told us if whatever you do, you got to put 100% into it and put all your love and energy into it and it’ll just naturally grow from there. And she did. And she I saw her business grow as I grew up, and how much energy and love and everything that she poured into it, because it’s another, it’s like another child, right? And a grew and she was able to achieve the American dream, you know, on our own. So, you know, bought her house because her cars and all that stuff. And I’m very proud of her. And then I’ve always, because my mom was her own boss, I saw, as you know, having parents who have a business, you see the good and the bad, you see that they’re the ones who are calling the shots. They’re the ones who are deciding things. And but they’re also the ones working all the time, because even when we’re on vacation, she was constantly on the phone constantly, you know, telling her employees where to go dealing with clients, all that stuff. And I think I really gravitated towards that. Because when I started working at 17, or whatever it was, I didn’t like being told what to do. I was like, wait a minute, you can’t tell me what to do. I want to I think this is how we should do it. Or, you know, I had my own ideas of how, you know, the restaurant or the spa should be ran. So I think I just naturally realized, like, I don’t like being told what to do. And I’d much rather call the shots even if that means I’m working on vacation, because then it’s on me and I make the decisions. I like being the decision maker. So I think I got it from my mom just seeing how it works.

Suzi: So I’m curious, like when you think back on your careers, and I’m saying career because you’ve you’ve been an esthetician? Yeah, certified yoga instructor. I mean, how cool is that? I love it. What, like what has been your biggest obstacle?

Sara: Um, well, to be honest, it’s probably, um, it’s gonna sound weird, but it’s probably sticking to it, you know, sticking to being an attorney and sticking. Because my mom always told me, she’s like, you’re constantly changing your mind. You’re constantly changing. You know, you’re always going to school for something. And I was like, Well, I like to learn, but it also means I’m afraid of commitment. Really, the underlying issue is that I’m terrified of commitment. So, for me to get married was a big deal. To have a kid. That’s the biggest commitment in the world, because you’re never going to stop being a mom. But then to start a business with my husband, I’m like, well, the divorce rate in the US is 50%. So we’re gonna have to split this up and we get divorce. He’s like, why are you thinking of divorce already? But I think just saying, you know, what, what’s the worst that could happen? We end up getting a divorce, we end up sleeping the business, who cares? Like that’s not that big of a deal, really, in the long in the grand scheme of things. So I think just committing 100% And just keep going. And, and it’s been great so far.

Suzi: I think I think it’s good to ask yourself, and just kind of something that I’ve done with coaching is working, allowing yourself to think about worst case scenario, right? Like, what would it really feel like, what is the absolute worst thing that can happen? Right? Like, okay, my husband and I have to split up and we split our law practice. And I mean, at the end of the day like that would, that would be pretty horrendous. But the worst that’s going to really happen is that is that you’re going to experience an emotion related to that. Right. And it and it could be devastation. Which actually sounds pretty bad.

Sara: Well, you know what I think because I like I said, He’s we actually started off as friends before we got together. Yeah. I always had the feeling with him that if I act, I’m actually a second wife. And I saw him how he went through in the first divorce. They’re already separated all that I’m not a homewrecker. But he was so nice and so pleasant. And I was like, well, even if I get divorced, I don’t think it’s gonna He’s definitely nothing like my exes. So I think it’ll be a nice smooth transition. And I think we could stay friends. 

Suzi: See, there you are being a lawyer going ahead, and like getting this through your head, right? That y’all would still be friends, it would be fine. So this is really fascinating that you know, you were friends with him and then now not only are like you, you his wife, you’re his wife. You’re the mother of his child, and you’re his business partner. Right? Like that’s, I feel like, you know, those are three big hats for aware. Right. And that’s just in that’s just in your relationship with respect to him. Your your daughter, your sister. 

Sara: Start, I had a business partner with my sister,

Suzi: and your your sister’s business partner. So there’s a lot of interesting dynamics going on here. So that’s, that’s really cool. Um, so what if your daughter wants to be a lawyer?

Sara: Okay, I’m gonna tell you exactly what I tell everybody else when they tell me, oh, I want to be a lawyer, I’ll tell them Are you sure about that? You need an intern, you need to see what it’s really like or work 100%, I might have a different experience, because I am a business owner and an attorney. Right? I’m not just doing lawyer work. I’m also then having to do the accounting, and then doing HR with my employees, you know, all that stuff. So there’s a lot for me to do here. But in terms of the actual legal work, I do always tell people do internships and find out what practice area you really like are, because we all think, Oh, I love arguing, or I saw law and order, or suits, it’s now that I told me that it’s definitely nothing like that, you know, if you’re going to be up at that level, you have to go through a lot of mud to get there. And even then it’s very stressful. I mean, you see people working till midnight burning, the midnight oil and all that stuff. But I always recommend internships, and I would tell her the same thing. All right, you want to be an attorney, we have a firm, so come and work and see what it’s really like, I’m not going to be your mom here. And I’m going to be your boss. So you better be prepared for me to give you a lot of grief. Because if you don’t do things, right, we’ll end this what people don’t realize the law doesn’t matter what you’re doing, whether it’s estate planning or business litigation, people’s lives are basically in your hand. No pressure, right? It’s only their their future. It’s only their business. It’s only their money. So they’re, it’s personal, right. And we do family law, too, which is even more personal. I would support my daughter 100% If she wanted to be an attorney, but I’m not, you know, my husband and I have had this conversation. And you know, what the way the economy and everything’s changing? Who knows what the education systems really going to be like, in the next 20 years? So, you know, before law school, right, people would apprentice that’s how you became an attorney, you could still do that. Right? Kim? Kardashian is the famous one who’s doing it, I would actually tell my daughter, I mean, there’s good things about going to law school, but I would tell her, Listen, if you want to be an attorney, let’s just do the apprentice route. Because you can just work underneath for five years and boom, you’re gonna pass the bar and you’re an attorney,

Suzi: rather than going into debt. Right. So I could not agree more. And it is going to be interesting to see how education changes. You know, you mentioned 20 years, but I mean, I have a feeling that we’re going to see significant changes in education in five years.

Sara: I would love for her to take over one of the businesses someday. But she’s you know, she doesn’t need to be an attorney. To take over any of them.

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Suzi: So who do you think has been the biggest influence in your life?

Sara: Well, that’s a question for me because I obviously my mom, you know, because she obviously I saw so many things growing up with her and she’s such a strong woman and she had to be right she was a single mom, she like you literally have no choice. But I would say also my sister and my husband, you know, I think all these are the three most of them and my daughter honestly my daughter has taught me so much patience. Oh my god. I was learning patience with my husband thanks to my sister telling me I need to be nicer and more patient. But my daughter when you have a kid right it forces you to be patient. shouldn’t because you have a crying baby, and this little human is completely dependent on you, and really thinking about how I want to parent what kind of person I want to be. And I don’t think enough people realize that your kids are modeling your behavior, you are a mirror, they are your mirror. So if you want a, you know, a nice or, you know, well mannered child, you, yourself also have to do that you can’t be this is why we don’t try not to get angry and shout all this time at home, like we do at work. Because it’s like, what you do, your children are going to do exactly what you’re doing. So, if you are a liar, if your kids see you lying, they’re gonna start lying and think it’s okay. And then like you, and then people wonder why their kids are lying to, you know, my daughter, she’s only two and a half, but oh my god, you know, she’s pleased, thank you. Can I have this? And even though she was sometimes you’d like, Mommy, I want dance. Okay, you know, I just stay calm. And so I think just, she has definitely changed me the most. I’m to grow because I want to be a good mom, I want to be a good example for her. Just like my mom was for me. But you know, that’s a different situation. I haven’t been an attorney, I have my own businesses, and I have a husband. So it’s a different environment than my daughter’s growing up and then But then I did. So I think my husband too, is constantly saying how having a kid, having a baby just completely changes you and how rewarding it really is, even though it’s challenging and stressful. But I think it forces you to become a better person, at least if you let it right. Because obviously, we all know, especially in family law, we know that there’s terrible parents. But if you rise up to the challenge, I think you can actually become a better person too.

Suzi: Oh 100%. So did was being a parent always part of the plan for you? Did you?

Sara: Oh, no. being married and having kid was the opposite,

Suzi: that was not in the plan. This kind of stuff happens. Right?

Sara: So I thought I was going to be the cool on, you know, the rich on weren’t good, and, you know, dating and all that stuff. But I ended up meeting my husband. And he was such an amazing guy that I always used to say no. And I see the sentiment now with people on Instagram. But I would always say, if the person doesn’t make me love my life, as much as I love it, when I’m single, then why am I with the person. So I love being single, I love having my freedom, right? I don’t like commitment. So I like being able to do and go wherever I please. And for me to commit to somebody, I better, I better enjoy them and love the life that third guy had an exome like I did without them. And my husband, he’s completely like I said different from all the other men I dated. And just let me be me. And that really made a difference. And, you know, we got together and then got married and had a baby and all that stuff, which I was never expecting. So daughter, if you see this since 20 years, I’m sorry, I was not expecting you. But I love you.

Suzi: We are so happy you’re here. And I think that you just said something really fat, like important for people to understand, especially our younger, female ladies out there single who are in the dating world, right? Like the importance of being with someone who lets you be who you are, right and someone that that you don’t feel like you have to change in any way around. I think that’s really important. This is not a dating show. This is not a dating advice show. But you know, I mean, we many of us start out as young female attorneys who are single, and dating is hard. Dating is really hard. When you’re a lawyer.

Sara: I think you’re right, especially when you’re a practicing attorney with clients, whether you’re in a law firm or your own practice. It’s definitely a lot of work to get out there and have to deal with someone who doesn’t understand your life and your job. I see that a lot actually. Yeah, a lot of people whose spouses or partners are not attorneys, and they don’t understand the lifestyle.

Suzi: Right. Right. So it’s, yeah, and it’s hard to kind of have those conversations with people who don’t understand it that like yeah, you are like even though you do try to leave it at home, leave it at the office. There are still client issues that are weighing on you, right? Like, you’re still like, you’re you might be marinating on it while you’re doing laundry, taking a shower or you know,

Sara: like, doing emails from clients at like 12. Midnight?

Suzi: Yes, yes. Well, you know, I am a big fan these days of setting boundaries. And I’ve gotten a lot better. I mean, it wasn’t, wasn’t top of mind when I wasn’t a big law firm wasn’t as important. Partly because I was younger, probably because I was single most of the time, but now it’s like, I really need to turn off the email at 5pm. Or, you know, yeah, 5pm. 

Sara: Yeah, me too. I know earlier. When we first started our firm, we were all you know, obviously, when you’re start your own firm, you are catering your to your clients. 100 per 100,000%. Right, all the time, any, anytime I get a text, a phone call, Hey, but especially with the kid, a daughter now at home, and, you know, our business growing, it’s not that I don’t care about my clients. But I realize you know, what I need some space, I need to just dedicate this is when you can find me, you know, nine to five, I’m dedicated to my clients 100%. But if you call me or email me, I’m not going to respond. Because that’s my time. I deserve some time with my family. I deserve to decompress from the stress and everything else. So I definitely agree with you. That was hard for us. And it, we didn’t really start implementing a communication policy until late last year. Good. This is yeah, this is when you call and this is. That’s it? This is the timeframe, right? I mean, I can’t just call my dentist at midnight. So like it, you can’t call me at midnight.

Suzi: So tell me a little bit about that. Tell me a little bit about your Um, can you communication policy, because this is really important. I think for our mental health, I

Sara: actually have it in our retainer agreement or client engagement agreement you want to call it and we did it before before I would kind of just like I said, I would answer and all that stuff. But it hit me when our daughter was getting older, and seeing us on the phone and be like mommy mommy or you know, papa, papa, and we’d be on the phone. And I taught clients Oh, sorry, like, I’m already at home. So my daughter is here, obviously. And I didn’t want her to feel like I was ignoring her, I felt really bad. So I said, you know, we need I told my husband, you can’t be coming home, on the phone with a client, you better get off the phone before you get into the house. Don’t answer the phone, when we’re when we’re all together. Unless it’s because you know, obviously we have trials. So unless it’s the day before trial, and the clients are having a nervous breakdown, I can understand that. But if it’s you know, normal week, let’s, let’s keep it separate. Because I, I want our daughter to know that we’re paying attention to her that she’s important. And not it’s not just work. So then I found a communication policy firm. I think that another attorney friend of mine, and I liked it. And I obviously made edits to it to fit our, you know, timeframe and all that stuff. And so it just says, you know, from nine from 8am to 12 and firmed from one to five, because I wanted to give that lunch break that our employees take and let them know, like, hey, no one’s gonna answer your emails during lunch break. Yeah, yeah. And I want to give my employees a more work life balance, too. Yeah. So that’s now and I put it at the top of the agreement. It’s like, the second paragraph should not miss and it’s a bold communication.

Suzi: You know, they don’t always like really look at all of that. 

Sara: So that you put on the first page? Yes. Originally, I was going to put it toward like, in the middle or wherever. But I realized, no one ever reads these things, really. So let me put at the top. So at least when they see the first part, it’s like, oh, there’s communications policy. Maybe they might read it.

Suzi: Okay, I think that’s, I love this so much. Like we’ve gotten into something really interesting, I think the importance of having a communication policy with your clients, right? Like, you know, we talked about setting boundaries and stuff, but what’s what is a big part of that communicating that to them, and whether it’s on the first phone call with them or in a retainer agreement, which is probably better to do it that way right in writing, so they always have in writing, right, we’re gonna look at that. Please don’t call me at 10 o’clock on a Saturday night. You know, I mean, I put my

Sara: I love with the iPhone, right? Like you can put a on Do Not Disturb all that stuff. It’s like listen, I’m with my baby. We just like how they value their family time I value my family time.

Suzi: Yeah. And I think that may be, we are often looked at as just kind of like automatons, right, like are people that aren’t human. But it’s like, at the end of the day, like we have the same needs emotionally, we, you know, we, we have the same ease as anybody else. Right. Um, I think that’s really fascinating that you that you did that. And I think that that’s something you know, I just kind of want people to think about that, that are listening today is where are you setting boundaries with your clients, in particular, of course, boundaries can apply to husband’s sister, like any relationship, right. But in this, in this particular context, I think with clients is really important. And if you can, how you can communicate that how you can properly set the tone, the beginning of of your relationship with a client, either verbal, verbally communicating it, or even better, which is what you’re doing, Sarah is actually having the communications policy written to your agreement.

Sara: Yeah. And, you know, I’m lucky because, you know, I have my own firm, so I can do that. Obviously, I know, a lot of people don’t own that. You know, they work at a firm, so I think, but I think our generation, and the younger generation that’s coming out of law school, really understands mental health and how important it is. So, you know, not saying that the older generation doesn’t, but they have different expectations. So I think once those people start to retire more in the law firms, then we’re going to see a shift. Once, you know, our class, and the younger classes become the partners, that, you know, mental health is important work life balance is important. Like, we were not born just to work. We’re you know, we should have, you know, the European mentality is, you know, you with us as you live to work, and then European mythology work to live right. Work is supposed to be just be a tool for us to create, get money and then go on vacation. Enjoy our life. That’s what we’re here for.

Suzi: Right? Yeah, I take mental health Fridays, I don’t work on Fridays anymore.

Sara: I’m hoping to be there one day, and yeah,

Suzi: you will be you will be, you know, for me, it was baby steps, it was an hour on Friday, right? Like, I would make sure that I was out of out of here by three o’clock or whatever. And it just, it takes time. But once you kind of implement those baby steps, you can’t go back like you can’t work on Fridays.

Sara: I feel I you know what we did do? So originally, I had my goal set for the year, you know, 2021 Because, as you know, as a business owner, you have to set your revenue goals and all that stuff. The business side of it, right? No one likes math. That’s why we became Attorney. But when you’re a business owner, you have no choice but to do math, to do math. Especially if you do any type of business litigation or valuations. Anyways. So we exceeded our goal for 2021. And I say, thank you. Awesome. I said, I know, I know, people who are taking other attorneys who are estate planning attorneys who take the Christmas, the week between Christmas and New Year’s off. And I said, Well, you know, we all we make goal. So I’m gonna give the office a break and worry, I’ll have the occasion. I mean, for you know, Chuan and I were still in office. But I was only here a part time. But, you know, I wanted to reward our team. And then I also want to start putting it into the clients mind like, this is a holiday season. We deserve a break too. So I even put an automation on my email. Good. And next year, same thing, we’re going to just take that week off, you know, off.

Suzi: No, you know, it’s funny. The first time I decided to think about like, or when I first started implementing mental health Fridays, I felt kind of guilty about it. I was like, I don’t know if I should do like, this is just, you know, I don’t know if I should do this. Can I afford to do it like this? What does this make me look like? And then I had to go to another lawyer’s office in town here, a couple of women. And it was on some estate planning work that I needed to have done. And they had a sign up that said, your lawyers take care of their mental health and we’re out of the office on Fridays. And it made me feel so good. It was just that they had to sign up right there basically, like, we’re not talking to you on Friday, right? But I was like, this is okay, right. Like it’s okay to respect your own mental health and to prioritize Is it?

Sara: Right? I mean, the four, four day work week, I think I know some of the Congress members are trying to push it to and it’s catching fire, you know, everywhere I think because it just makes sense, right? We’re not robots. We can’t just keep going 24/7 We need breaks. And yeah. And if you can be just as productive Monday through Thursday, then why not? Yeah.

Suzi: And I think that really comes down to being super mindful and how you plan your day or your week, right? Because you can really get a lot done if you’re just super like, mindful of how, like what you’re doing every few hours, right? At the end of the day, I asked you, we really, like, can we really be on eight to 10 hours a day, five days a week, six days a week. So people work and actually really being like, really produced like, maybe when I was 25, or 30. It’s just doesn’t happen anymore.

Sara: There’s such a rise, there’s so much alcoholism, I don’t know if you watch Mad Men, but you know, the guys were drinking, starting at 10am. And people were drinking. And people still do, right, the older generation of attorneys, they, there’s a lot of addiction in this country. And I think it really has to do with the fact that we didn’t take mental health serious, and we’re worth being worked to death. And it’s like, that’s not the lifestyle that I want. And that’s no longer the lifestyle that you need, especially with, you know, so many different asset classes that you can invest in real estate, all this stuff, you can make your own life, you know, and you can retire early. Yeah, right. A lot of people do. And they, you know, go live down in Mexico or something where it’s cheap, but I think that’s where we’re at now in this country. And I think a lot of us, like I said, the younger generation, or you know, us a younger generation, or recognize, we’re still young, recognize that you don’t need to be grinding 80 hours a week, in order to enjoy your life, I mean,

Suzi: or to be a contributing member of society, like a producing member, right. Like I kind of always, I felt like I was trained, you know, like, you work at least 40 to 60 hours a week, and this is how you contribute to society, right? Like, and as I get older, I’m like, That That shit is for the birds, right? Like you know, everyone kind of goes through seasons of life to write when you’re younger, when you’re in your 20s. You know, and even 30s. To some extent, it’s just, yeah, maybe that’s like what you want to do right now grind, and you want to learn and that’s the lifestyle you want, that’s great, but like, you don’t have to be stuck in that there are a lot of options. And I think it’s really interesting that you mentioned just other opportunities. Right. And I would love to know a little bit about what’s next for you, Sarah, and what, where people can can learn more about you and find you.

Sara: Oh, yeah. So you know, obviously my website Ovando bowen.com. And Instagram, Alana Bowen, LLP, I believe, and then, if anyone’s interested in the beauty business, right, it’s Indian, ra, Instagram and an Indian archery.com.

Suzi: I love speaking with people just like you, Sarah, who have like, like, her love of your hat, right? That’s like kind of there. But you there’s so much more to you. There’s so many facets to you, why mom, entrepreneur, daughter of a single mother, right, who was an entrepreneur, and who had two lovely daughters who are like successful, right? It’s like the American dream. It’s It’s amazing. So I just want to thank you for hanging out with me.

Sara: I have really enjoyed it. Thank you, Susan.

Suzi: Thank you so much for hanging out with us today on legally blessed conversations. If you love this episode, and you want to hang out with other inspiring and light gold female attorneys, be sure to join the legally bliss community at legally blessed.com And be sure to follow me on Instagram at Suzan Hixon. See you next time.

sara ovando

Putting Lawyers First with Jeralyn Lawrence

Season 1, Episode 016

In this episode of Legally Blissed Conversations, we are joined by Jeralyn Lawrence, the Managing Member and Founder of Lawrence Law, who devotes her litigation practice to matrimonial, divorce, and family law, and is a trained collaborative lawyer, divorce mediator, and arbitrator. With an astounding list of awards and recognition behind her, Jeralyn continues to lead the way in her field. Today, serving as the President of the New Jersey State Bar Association, she strives to proactively support and create change for lawyers as they navigate this ever-changing, typically stressful career path.

Shownotes

Website: https://lawlawfirm.com/attorney/jeralyn-lawrence/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JeralynLaw

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeralynlawrence/

Instagram:@lawlawfirm

Transcript

DISCLAIMER: The following is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases, it is incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.

Suzi: I would love to welcome everyone to the legally blessed podcast and I would love to welcome Miss Geralyn Lawrence Jerilyn represents clients with matrimonial and family law needs, including divorce litigation, mediation and arbitration, custody and parenting time issues. alimony and child support separation and property settlement agreements, adoption and guardianship advice. Domestic Partnership matters under the Domestic Partnership Act, domestic violence and sexual abuse in alimony. She handles matters ranging from the simple and straightforward the complex and complicated having involves significant income and assets, including representations of celebrities, professional athletes, and high profile individuals. She takes great pride and care and helping her clients through difficult personal matters. Welcome again. Geralyn. Thank you so much for being here with me. Your bio is unbelievable. You’re also the founder of your own law practice, Lawrence law, divorce and family lawyers. It’s clear to me that you really have a passion for what you do. And I would love to know what has inspired you or who has inspired you to keep pushing through all of these years.

Jeralyn: Well, thank you, Susie, thank you for having me. I think it’s important for anybody in any job, whatever it is that they’re doing, to make sure that they’re passionate about, because you spend so much time at work. And if you’re not passionate about it, it shows you really cannot fake passion. So I am passionate about what I do. And I think where that really came from is my father is a retired juvenile detective. So I grew up with the police officer as a father, always talking the law with him. As a child, I thought for sure I would be a prosecutor. That was what my goals were. So I interned at the prosecutor at a county prosecutor’s office, I interned at the United States Attorney’s Office. So I thought that’s what I would do. And then I ended up in the family law world. I also had watched a bed, a movie the burning bed with Farrah Fawcett. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of that movie, but Farrah Fawcett was in a movie. And she was a victim of domestic violence and routinely, regularly beaten and tortured by her husband, and she ended up killing him, burning him as he slept. And when I saw that movie, I had no idea that domestic violence was such an issue in our country. And so I thought that that’s really what I was going to do. I was going to prosecute perpetrators of domestic violence. And then in law school, I ended up in the Family Law Clinic. And now I’m a family lawyer. So I still am dealing with domestic violence issues, but also as they relate to divorces and family law related issues.

Suzi: How old were you when you first saw that movie?

Jeralyn: I want to say it was probably college years. But I knew I had wanted to be a lawyer. Since at least sixth grade. I remember standing outside. I remember being outside my middle school library and had just completed like a career questionnaire as to what I want it to be. And I knew I wanted to be a lawyer. And I have three kids. I tell them that they’re already signed up for law school. I said, I’ve signed you up for basketball, football in law school. It’s just a great degree to have. So I hope that they all follow me and in my footsteps. They don’t have to do necessarily what I do if they want to. That’s great, but I think it’s a great degree. So I’ve known for a long time and again, I think it’s because of always talking to my dad about His day and what his life looked like and analyzing, you know, everyday situations that he had to face and I just I loved the application of the lock to it.

Suzi: Wow, you’re there’s a lot of successes that you have in your bio. Your named a finalist as lawyer of the year in 2015 2019, New Jersey, legal Trailblazer 220 mentor of the year, you’ve been one of the New Jersey Super Lawyers, I can go on and on. What are you most proud of, in all of these accomplishments that you’ve had over your career and why?

Jeralyn: I’m think on those a couple, I think what really makes me proud is how my kids view me. And when I opened up my own law firm, I had been in a larger firm for about over 20 years. And when we decided to open up Lawrence law, you know, that they’re very proud. So that’s very rewarding. I think the relationships that I’ve built with other lawyers, that is, my colleagues, some of them have turned into my best friends. So that’s been wonderful. From a case standpoint, there’s nothing more fulfilling than having a client and on an initial consultation, and they can barely get through it. They’re weeping, just tears running down their face, tissues everywhere, and they’re broken. And then by the end of the case, you know, they’ve, they’re excited about their new journey, they’re excited about that next path that they’re going to take. And so that is really rewarding, you know, to take this broken person, and let them understand their power, and the blessings that that marriage had, and to embrace those so that you don’t become angry and bitter. But know that this person or this relationship happened for a reason, whatever that is, let’s find that silver lining. And oftentimes, it’s the kids. Now, for this relationship, you wouldn’t have, you know, these precious to kids that you have. So focus on that don’t focus on, oh, I wish I never met that person, because then you wouldn’t have those great gifts. And I can see people that come out of the divorce process when they’re angry and bitter. It just closes them off, to being happy. But if I can help them, shepherd them through to a different stage in their life. And that’s what I asked them right, in our initial consultation, where do you want to be in a year? That’s the most important thing, where do you want to be, and let’s strategize and try to help you get there. And if they can stay focused on that, and not focused on the past. So that’s, that always gives me a great sense of pride each and every time, you know, and I still get holiday cards from clients. 10 years later, 15 years later, hey, you know, this is what my life looks like. I mean, that brings me a lot of joy. I also love I’m going to be president of the New Jersey State Bar Association in a couple of weeks. I’m currently the president of the New Jersey Chapter of the American Academy of matrimonial lawyers. And the greatest gift that those organizations that those organizations allow me to do is identify problematic areas in the practice of law and have the power to try to advocate for change. I don’t like I don’t like when people just complain about things. Let’s complain about things. But let’s offer a solution. And in those leadership roles, you can try to effectuate change. And that’s pretty exciting. So I know I’ve said a couple of things. But that’s really I think, what would make me the most proud.

Suzi: Okay, that that’s amazing. And I’m super proud of you. And I just want to say congratulations on on your upcoming physician. That’s amazing. One of the questions I have here that I did want to ask you is what is the problem you want to solve? Like you are now in that position, right? Or you are going to be moving into it and you’ve already had leadership roles, but what is the problem that you want to solve?

Jeralyn: My, my main goal, my main theme for my presidency is going to be putting lawyers first. That’s our goal. And I struggled with even that title because oftentimes you say putting lawyers first and people have a visceral reaction to that, you know, they think negatively of lawyers or like you’re always first but the truth is we’re not. We put our clients first we put the courts first we Put our families first we put our colleagues first, we put everybody but lawyers first. And my opening line or close to my opening line in my installation speech is going to quote Desmond Tutu. And what he said was, we need to stop going into the river to pull people out, we need to look upstream and find out why they’re falling in. And I’d like to look upstream and find out why lawyers are falling in. We have now, so many wellness initiatives, we have a lawyer assistance program for lawyers who are struggling with addiction issues and mental illness. And all of those are wonderful programs, and we need them and we need more of them. But those treat the symptom of why people are falling in, I want to know why they’re falling in, I have some thoughts as to why they’re falling in, I think, you know, lawyers are governed by an ethics committee. And the Ethics Committee was designed to protect the public, I think there’s been a shift in the approach of our ethics committees to not just only protecting the public, but also to punish the lawyer, which I think is far afield. There are cases that now say lawyers have to stay into a case and handle cases for free, even if they’re being abused by a client or not, the client is not taking their advice. So that’s pretty stressful. From an attorney’s point of view, one of our largest sources of referrals is online. And so you will have clients will leave a negative review about some of my colleagues, and you can’t do anything about it, you’re pretty much handcuffed as to what you can respond. I don’t think that’s fair. And I think, you know, that adds to the stress. So I really want to look at what is harming lawyers, what is causing them so much stress? And how can we fix it?

Suzi: I love that, that this is just right up my out my alley, because this is something that is really, really near and dear to my heart, is the really just the mental health issues of lawyers in general, but especially women, I think that we do take on a lot. We’re the ones that have the children clean, and you know, they’ve had their dinner, and we sacrifice ballet recitals, you know, for our career, and I don’t see men doing that as much now. I mean, with that said, you know, it’s it, men definitely struggle with mental health issues, as well. So I don’t want to, you know, detract from that at all. But I think you make a really great point at, like, how can we identify the source of this problem or the sources of this problem? As a young lawyer, I was constantly afraid of malpractice, you know, screwing something up like that, you know, it was grounded into me, like, the repercussions of making a mistake. Right. So unfortunately, I had I had, I had, you know, a few great mentors, I had a couple of attorneys that I worked for that weren’t so great, and I wouldn’t necessarily consider them mentors. So I think a lot of this too, is what are we and how are we grooming is that the mentoring, you know, the young lawyers that are coming up in their own practices?

Jeralyn: Well, I mean, that’s true. And what what we say in my office is, you’re gonna make a mistake, a we are making so if there’s oftentimes I say, we should change how we bill, we should not build by the hour, we should build by decision. We are making so many important decisions, and sometimes with not as much information as we would want, but we’re relying on what our client is telling us. I feel like I make a mistake a day. I’m sure that I do. And I’m learning and growing every day. And what I try to say to everybody on my team is let’s talk about it. If you feel like you made a mistake, we can fix it. It’s when you feel like you made a mistake, and you can’t talk about it or own up to it. That’s where it just kind of takes on a life of its own and that’s where you can find a problem. But I don’t think anyone’s intentionally make them making a mistake, you’re doing the best that you can with the information that you have. And if it ends up that it didn’t go the way that you planned well, let’s, let’s tackle it. And let’s, let’s address it, let’s fix where it went south. So I think always trying to stress open lines of communication is is key. And I think you do need that mentorship, you do need somebody that you can be your authentic self and say, Look, I have I was just asked this question, I have no idea. I don’t know where to start. What would you do without being judged without being feel like you’re going to be labeled something? And I think women do that. I think women are such really good collaborators. I think we’re so much more mindful of reaching back and pulling up. And I mean, I hope so I hope that we’re doing a better job. But that I think we talk a lot about doing that. So I think it’s on top of mind for for women to do that. I also think this younger generation, I’m gonna sound old, is different. I don’t think they tolerate what we have to tolerate. I really don’t I mean, I hear that I didn’t have to live this. But I hear stories of people before me. Women were not allowed to wear pants to court. While I wear pants. You know what I mean? I so I don’t you know, they weren’t to me, it’s a silly example. But I don’t miss anything for my kids. And I’ve been told stories of women had to miss things for their kids, I don’t think your generation is going to miss anything. I think they’re just to be like, I’m going, I’m going to see my kids or whatever, you know, whatever it is that and unapologetically. And I think that that’s a wonderful shift. I think the pandemic has the silver lining, also in this pandemic. And remote work has been such a blessing just to be able to be the unzoom with you to do this. Amen. Right. 

Suzi: Yeah right. Sure. Yeah,

Jeralyn: I didn’t have to leave my office, you do not leave out, you know, you’re not leaving your space. And you can be home and do this, you can have your kids work in nearby if need be. It’s just changed the practice for the better. I know, it’s reduced my stress I was I’ve been home more now, in the past two years, than I’ve ever been. So it’s my work life balance has markedly improved with the advent of Microsoft Teams and zoom and that becoming commonplace. I don’t know if you’re seeing that in your life. But I’m absolutely seeing that.

Suzi: Do you feel like the pandemic gave you an opportunity to sort of reflect on your practice and where you wanted your team and your business to, to go going forward?

Jeralyn: It definitely did. I mean, particularly in those early days, those terrifying days, where you had no idea what was going to happen, and you’re worried about going out of business, you know, what’s going to happen with clients? You know, I think it made you, you know, refocus on what was important. It also taught us a different way of of how to practice, you know, one of my colleagues lives down in South Jersey, she’s been to the office, I can’t it’s not even three times since the pandemic, and she’s doing a great job working from home, she’s much more efficient, she’s less stressed, because she’s, she’s lost that entire commute. And she’s just as productive. So I think it did, I think it gave everybody that opportunity to take a look and, and do some soul searching as to what’s important. And opened up our eyes to a different way to practice.

Suzi: Yeah, yeah. So I guess every now and then, you know, we do have to look at the silver lining to things like this.

Jeralyn: Yeah, you know. And I think you have to ask yourself, what is worth going back to? What is worth it? What’s worth getting in the car and driving an hour and a half to sit in a meeting? That could have been an email to drive an hour and a half back? Right. And so I think people are going to continue to do that. You know, the the stressful thing, I think for lawyers, when they’re weighing getting back into court. I mean, I’m, you know, it’s going to be dreadful, because you sit for all day, your emails are just stacking up, stacking up, stacking up. So now you’re in court all day. You come home at five o’clock. You have a whole nother day ahead of you of managing emails, right, versus zoom, or telephone or whatever you’re doing through your office. As you know, when I’m done, having the pleasure of talking to you, I’m going to be able to go check a couple emails, you know, stay on top of my day. So by the time my day ends, my day ends. Now, I’m still going to pack work up from home, whether it’s writing a blog, or whatever I need to do and work from home, but I’m working from home. And my work day is essentially done. Very different when when we go back into the courtroom, and you’re sitting next to a client eight hours a day waiting for the judge to take your case. I don’t look forward to that. And so and I think our courts are receptive to saying as much on the virtual platforms as possible, I think trials will go back. But so i think i think i think this pandemic brought about real, significant, impactful change.

Suzi: Yeah, in some really good ways. Yeah. I mean, when you become president of the Bar Association, in New Jersey, will you be able to have a voice and how courts are managed there at all in terms of like being able to do more remote type work?

Jeralyn: I think so. And I think we’ve already had our voice. The court has been wonderful. They’ve been having multiple what they call listening sessions. And they will listen to many, many lawyers talk about the pluses and minuses of remote pluses and minuses of going back to court. When the pandemic first hit the State Bar started a pandemic Task Force, a practice of law Taskforce. And we met with multiple sections, put together reports to send to the court as to that very issue. And since we’ve issued that report, the court has had, like I said, those various listening sessions. So absolutely. It is most definitely a collaborative effort. And the court does listen to the Bar Association listens to individual attorneys and wants that feedback.

Suzi: Wow, that’s great. Yeah, that’s amazing.

Jeralyn: So it’s important to have a seat at the table. Yeah. And that’s what you hope for.

Suzi: Yeah, it’s important, have a seat at the table. And when you do, it’s important to express your concern and your you know, your voice your concern, or, you know, you have to speak up if you want any type of change.

Jeralyn: So I am from the client perspective, and this is what we’ve kind of hit home with with with the court as well. I’ve done so many consultations on somebody’s lunch hour. You know, where they didn’t have to lose a day of work and the old days pre pandemic, people taking off at least a half a day of work drive here, sit with me for an hour drive back. They don’t have to do that. They’re not hiring babysitters anymore to be able to meet with with lawyers. And I think the Court has said, you know, appearances in court are up because it’s so much easier for them to dial on up on Zoom. I’m telling you from the Bar Association perspective, participations in our sections and committees attendance at things is up, do I think people are still yearning for certain in person events they are. So I think we need to find that balance we do. There is nothing like an in person event to help you build relationships. That’s what this practice is about. You have to build relationships and you do need in person opportunities to do that. But I think we’re seeing that that needs to be more built around an event. You know, some kind of whether it’s the media a meeting where you’re going to a local location my we’re going to Key West in November for our mid year meeting. We’re going to Atlantic City next month for the installation. We’re going to the Borgata I think a lot of people are going to show up for those things. But do they need to drive to somewhere to have a meeting where you can just hop on Zoom? I don’t think so. So it’s finding that balance it’s finding that equilibrium?

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Suzi: Yeah, it’s definitely finding the balance, I definitely have noticed, I’m a pretty introverted person, but I have noticed that I am craving some, a little bit more like in person networking, right. Like, I think that being in the same room with people and having some type of like commonality for being in that room is is important. But when you’re talking about just like, there, there’s no reason that you and I should have to like travel, and be in the same room together to do something like this just had this conversation. So thank God for the beauty of technology, right? I mean, I guess it could kind of be a love hate relationship. But here we are.

Jeralyn: So it’s true. But with everything, it’s an it’s an opportunity to learn and grow, will find the balance. You know, me if meetings and things like that more routine, stay on Zoom, great. But networking, I mean, if you’re even at a meeting, it’s very limited opportunity to network, because you’re sitting in a meeting listening to people, right? But if you can go somewhere for two hours, grab a drink, and talk and meet people, I think people are absolutely craving to do that.

Suzi: Right. So I’m curious, I’m gonna I want to go back just a little bit, just a couple years. When you were a young lawyer fresh out of law school, did you work for a law firm? Did you? And did you have a mentor who that you attribute some of your success to?

Jeralyn: So I graduated law school, I did a clerkship, and then I went to a large firm in Somerset County, the largest firm in my home county. And I was there for 20 something years, and I went to work for one woman who’s wonderful. But as soon as I got the one that assumed I was there, handful of months, and she decided her boyfriend moved to Chicago. So she followed him to Chicago. So I was pretty much left on my own. I remember crying, I’m like, What am I going to do? What am I going to do? Yeah, so I did have her from afar, and certainly for a short period of time before she moved. So I can’t say that. So yeah, so I so I had her as a mentor. And then I met other colleagues along the way that were wonderful mentors. So I was more being mentored by my adversaries, or my colleagues opposite me in a case. So I was learning and growing, you know, making mistakes, and figuring things out. And but, you know, I, I read a lot, I read everything, I read everything, you know, every case that came down, I read, because I really thought, that’s how you become a great lawyer is, what niche Do you want to do, and then be the best at it. So I wanted to do that I wanted to teach about, I wanted to speak about it. And that’s what I say to you know, some of some of my team now, like, they have the beauty of, they can see how I practice. And they may like a couple of things that I do, they may say, oh, I want to do that. Or they may say I don’t like how she does that. And don’t do that. But then they have the opportunity. We have eight lawyers here now to look at someone else, how they do it, and take the good and bad and mold it into what makes you comfortable. So So I had a little bit of a different journey. I also had at my old firm, one of the named partners was a an extremely gifted and top matrimonial attorney, so I always had him also to bounce ideas off of I was always a little he was much older than me and I was always very intimidated by just how smart he was. So it wasn’t until I was more comfortable in my own skin, to have him mentor me just because I was always a little intimidated to ask him things.

Suzi: So that’s, I think that’s your like a really great example just of someone who can just admit that like I was a young lawyer, and I was intimidated by this partner, right like and but here you are, like you’re you’re you’ve really like grown into yourself. I you know, like as a as an individual. And as a professional. And you started your own practice and you’re you’re so successful. What was the impetus that for you to start your current law firm.

Jeralyn: So I was on the I was the head of my department and out of the family law department there. And I was on the Management Committee and on the compensation committee, and I was the top biller in the firm and brought in the most money, you saw that money going through your life. And, you know, I still, yeah, I still did not feel taken seriously. When I made suggestions, I still I still felt overlooked. And there wasn’t one particular management committee meeting that I really felt overlooked. And I just, I had it, I literally put my pen down. And I said, there’s just got to be a better way. And I had always thought of going on my own, it was always a dream of mine. And I actually looked probably 15 years earlier. And I got I was starting to do the to do sheet of the to do list of what you had to do. And I got to down to the postage machine that I needed to buy my own postage machine. And that totally overwhelmed me, I was like,

Suzi: I can’t, it’s gone too far.

Jeralyn: This guy’s was pulled it up the list. I said, You know what, I have a mailroom here. I don’t need to worry about, I just said I can’t I can’t deal with. But then it got to the point where I just needed to deal with that. And I talked to my team here. And I said, this is really what I want to do. And they said, we’re in. And every single member of my team came with me was and, you know, we’re just, it’s different. Now, you know, if I haven’t if I want to do a commercial on TV, I do a commercial,

Suzi: you don’t have to go through five layers of partners to get something done.

Jeralyn: I don’t feel like I can lay in bed at night and say, hey, you know, I, I want to I think I want a jingle. Okay, let’s, I don’t have to juggle. It can be the dumbest idea. And maybe it doesn’t work. But it doesn’t matter. Because it’s my idea. And if it works great. And if it doesn’t work. Okay, it’s okay. Yeah, it’s perfectly fine. You. Yeah. And you just have the flexibility, you know, nothing is done. There’s no decision by committee. And sometimes that’s a little daunting. Sometimes I prefer that, but I don’t have that. So that was really the impetus of it was feeling overlooked, wanting to make sure that me and the team’s financial security was protected and secure. And now we’re, you know, we’re a boutique, we’re a much smaller firm. But this is all that we do. This is all that we specialize in. And everybody’s rowing the boat the same way, which is good.

Suzi: Yeah, I love it. I love it. So okay, in addition, you I know that you have a lot on your plate already. And you know, you have this amazing position coming up. I’m curious to like, what is next for you in terms of like, the vision for your law firm.

Jeralyn: Vision for my law firm is really to just continue what we’re doing, just try to be the best at what we can, you know, make sure everybody is happy professionally. And personally, I don’t envision getting much bigger, we did just buy a building. So we are starting renovating a building, we’re gonna have our own building and watch on two doors down from work. So that’s exciting. You know, being a tenant is not very fun, you know, so that, that’ll be an exciting part of the journey. But I’m surrounded by really great people, I don’t envision us getting much bigger than we are. Just trying to make sure everybody’s happy and healthy and enjoying what they do. Once I’m done with my bar presidency, I’ll probably just take a break for a day or two a day. And then I’ve actually been toying with the idea of getting involved in politics.

Suzi: Okay. Okay. That’s awesome. I’m so excited to follow your journey.

Jeralyn: So thank you. So we’ll see, I don’t know, it’s either gonna be more, you know, focus on retire and get to the beach earlier. Sure. You know, try to effectuate change, you know, and I just think we need more women in leadership and, and in government, and particularly, I’m very moved by what’s going on in Ukraine. And I just, it’s just depressing every day. And I just feel like if there were more women, I mean, I think you’re praying is wonderful. I just, and I admire that leadership. And he’s been doing a great job. I just wonder if there are more women leaders in the world, country and state. What would it be like? Yeah, I saw a picture I guess it was yesterday of the honestly was the finish and and Swedish, maybe prime ministers, presidents were with him were with Zelensky.

Suzi: Yeah. Which I thought was really like, kind of interesting. But you know, I just, I feel like women in these leadership roles like, we have to, we have to get there like we have to get there women just, I feel like we take a very empathetic approach to, to how we deal with really complex situations like, you’re like when you were talking earlier our conversation about like sitting down with your client, and like asking them what they wanted a year from now, like I could tell at that time, like you are genuinely empathetic with your clients. Right? It’s not just about strategy and winning in court. And when not being opposing counsel and the gamesmanship, it’s really just digging into, you know, how, what can we do to make this person’s life better in a year? And I mean, I really felt that from you, I felt that energy from you.

Jeralyn: Well, thank you. I mean, that to me, what matters. And that’s why I say to my clients, there’s really no winners or losers in what I do. And I tell them that I say, in the initial console, I said, I’m not a criminal lawyer, where there’s a winner or loser, you’re they’re going to jail. You’re not. I’m not a civil lawyer, where you’re either winning money or you’re not. I’m a Family Lawyer, and we’re going to win issues. And we’re going to lose issues all at the same time. Because it’s a compromise. And you need to give up things to get things. And we can’t think about it as winning or losing because that’ll drive you crazy. Like I have people come in, you know, like I’m hiring you. Because I hear you when everything, you know, you’re a barracuda, you’re a shark. I said, Well, I could be, I could be on certain issues. That’s not ever where I want to start. You know, my goal is to try to help you find peace and a compromise that you can live with. And I think, you know, as long as you’re manage managing their expectations and letting them know that they appreciate that

Suzi: they have to feel a sense of comfort sitting down with you, though.

Jeralyn: You hope so, you know, I try I’ve been divorced. So I know what that terrors like, when my daughter was eight weeks old. So I remember sitting on my bed crying so much my nose would bleed and being totally terrified. Whether my daughter was eight weeks, as I said, what was gonna happen with her was, like, going to have to turn her over for parenting time. So I know, I know what that feels like. I know what heartbreak feels like, I know that that’s a real thing. That I was in pain, physical, physical pain. Yeah, like, and it took me a good year for my head to get out of the fog. But I also realized in hindsight, that as I was hurting, I was healing too. And one day, I would take two steps forward, the next day, I’d take three steps back, but then the next day, I would take 10 steps forward. And then the next day eight steps back. So I was starting to get ahead of the curve eventually, and let them know that the same is true for them.

Suzi: I’m curious if you could look back at you on like, right when you got out of law school? What piece of advice would you give? Like 25 year old? Geralyn? I’m throwing out I’m assuming you graduated 25? It could have been 30. I’m not sure. When you when you graduated from law school, what little piece of advice could would you love to give her enjoy the suits that you’re wearing now?

Jeralyn: Because they’re not going to fit? Got your fat then? So I would say my You looked really good back then. Yep. I think my my advice that that would that would be part of it. It would be just Just be yourself. You know, still everyday today. You know, it’s funny, you use the word it’s I’m still intimidated today by people, you know, I still have some sense of intimidation and insecurity. And every day going through, could I every motion I argue, can I said this better? Sure. I’ve done that better. And I’m going to do that to the day I die. And I’ve just accepted that. And I’ve and I think if I don’t get that nervous stomach before a motion, that I’m complacent, and I don’t think that’s a good thing. So I’ve learned to channel that as adrenaline as getting me prepared. And I think what I would tell myself way back then is just go for it. You know, don’t let anything hold you back, even those voices in your head that makes you feel insecure, doubt yourself or feel like you’re not the smartest person in the room. And I know, I’m not very many times, but I’m going to work hard, I’m going to do my best. And to just, you know, just go for it, whatever you feel like doing this, just do it without reservation. And guys do it. They don’t care. They don’t care. They just seize the day, whether they’re qualified or not, you know, when we sit here, and we second guess ourselves every way up and down.

Suzi: But we should have the table where the damn suit or the damn suit?

Jeralyn: And I think, you know, we can have it all. Like, I’m not one of those believers that think we can have it all. I disagree when I hear women say that. Can we have it all at the same time? Maybe not? Do we have to surround ourselves with a really great village to be able to have it all? Absolutely. You need to make sure there’s no weak links in your village. Absolutely. But you can have it all just what is it that you want and go for it?

Suzi: I love that. Thank you so much. A final question is do people call you J law?

Jeralyn: They do. They call me J law? Sometimes people call me Jennifer Lawrence. I said look if you’re gonna call me Jennifer Lawrence when I gotta look like her to I gotta make the money she makes but but no, they do call me J law. Actually the current president of the Bar Association now call me J law. It’s funny.

Suzi: This has been a lot of fun and best of luck on your upcoming appointment and potential political endeavors like thank you for hanging out with me J law. Thanks. Thanks. Thank you so much for hanging out with us today on legally bliss conversation. If you love this episode, and you want to hang out with other inspiring and light gold female attorneys, be sure to join the legally bliss community at legally blessed.com And be sure to follow me on Instagram at Suzan Hixon. See you next time.

jeralyn lawrence

Finding Your Place and Filling Your Space in the World, with Christina Previte

Season 1, Episode 015

In this episode of Legally Blissed Conversations, we are joined by Christina Previte, CEO and Co-Founder of NJ Divorce Solutions and host of the Divorce Happy Hour Podcast and the Wake Up Call Podcast.  She’s practiced law exclusively in the area of divorce and family law since 2004. In 2022, Christina will begin journalism school as she follows her passion for storytelling.

Christina’s hope is that anyone who is searching for more meaning in their lives can find their place and fill the space where they can leave a meaningful mark on the world.

Shownotes

Website: http://www.ChristinaPrevite.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theprev/

Instagram: @theprev

Transcript

DISCLAIMER: The following is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases, it is incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.

Suzi: So I’d love to welcome everyone to the legally bliss conversations podcast and especially love to welcome Miss Christina Prevot. Christina is the CEO and co founder of New Jersey divorce solutions, a law firm dedicated to helping people divorce peacefully and amicably. Christina is also the CO hosts of the divorce Happy Hour podcast, and host of Wake Up Call podcast, where she interviews badass people about how they got where they are. So welcome again, Christina, thank you so much for being here. And I wanted to say that wake up call podcast really was the inspiration for legaly blast. I was like, Yeah, I lose. Like I want to do something similar but not exact. Like I really want to focus on female lawyers, and giving them an opportunity to tell their stories. And I know that’s really a lot of what you do with a wake up call. And but then I was like, I want Christina to be able to talk about her story. Because I haven’t seen an episode where you’re, you know, you’ve really put put some of the juicy tidbits out there. So maybe I can pull some from you today. But welcome again. I’m so happy you’re here. Thank you so much.

Christina: Well, thank you for the compliments. Thank you for inviting me. I appreciate it.

Suzi: Yeah, yeah. So I would love to know, why did you go to law school? Why did Christina become a lawyer?

Christina: Oh, gosh, feels like it was such a long time ago. You know, I think looking back on things, I think something was pulling me towards that. We can always say that everything looks you know, in hindsight is 2020. But at the time, I really wanted to do something challenging. I just wanted to do something where I knew that when I was done, like, Oh, my God, I can’t believe I did that. And for me, I don’t know why at the time, that was law school.

Suzi: Did you go directly to law school out of undergrad?

Christina: I didn’t I when I left undergrad, I kind of was a little lost. Like I think a lot of people are what I thought I wanted to do sort of turned out not to be really what I wanted to do. And unfortunately, I wanted to be a psychologist, I thought that that’s what I wanted to do. And then I decided I didn’t want to do that. But once you get out of undergrad with a liberal arts degree, you kind of have nothing and everything all at the same time. You can write like, you can do anything, you have the degree, but there’s nothing specialized. So I sort of drifted for a while I ended up working as a financial aid advisor at a college, which actually turned out to be pretty good experience. But you know, at the time, it kind of feel like it was just a placeholder until I figured out what I wanted to do. And then I went to law school two years later as a part time student.

Suzi: Okay. All right. So how was that experience for you?

Christina: Well, I did not love law school. I have heard this expression that if you love law school, you’ll hate practice. But if you hate law school, you’ll love practice. And I sort of found that to be true. Because I feel like I really wanted to do something hands on practical. And as you know, that’s not really what you do in law school. You know, it’s academic, you’re learning things from a book. And I was anxious to get away from that. But I was grateful to be there. I felt lucky to be there. I felt lucky and grateful to be at law school.

Suzi: Yeah, I kind of had the same experience experience I didn’t I did not love the experience of law school. So okay, so you went to law school part time? Did it take you four years to get through? Because arrangement?

Christina: Yes, it took four years and I forget the expression of first year they scare you to death the second year they work you to death the third year they bore you to death right so I don’t know what the hell the fourth year

Suzi: maybe they just boring you the fourth year also.

Christina: Yes, you’re you’re so ready to be done. By the fourth year. You’re just like, you’re looking at your watch like this needs to be over.

Suzi: You’re like I’m over this So do you go work at a law practice or at a law school or hang your own shingle?

Christina: No. So I, I kind of had the foresight at the time to realize, hey, you know, if I get an internship for a judge, my fourth year, they’ll probably just hire me as their clerk when I get out. Yeah, and that’s exactly what happened. I did an externship at law school, so I got credit for it. And that’s exactly what happened. I learned the job. And the judge hired me and I so I kind of did like almost you could consider it a two year clerkship.

Suzi: Okay. So what was that experience like clerkship being a clerkship? I loved it,

Christina: it so it was for a family law judge, I knew that I wanted to do family law. And it was where I grew up. I grew up in Middlesex County in New Jersey, and I felt right at home, I fit right in. I absolutely loved it. I still look back on that time is that was up other than the fact that you didn’t get paid very much. It was one of the best jobs that I ever had.

Suzi: That’s interesting that you knew seems like pretty quickly that you wanted to go into family law.

Christina: Yeah, looking back on that I’m sort of like, what was wrong with me?

Suzi: What was it like? What was wrong with you at the time? No, I’m just kidding.

Christina: No, it’s a fair question. I mean, I, you know, I didn’t have the easiest childhood growing up. And I think because of that I had maybe a high tolerance for for crisis and perhaps even dysfunction. And anybody who has spent any time and family one knows that there is a lot of that going on. Yes. So it seems I don’t know. It’s, I don’t know how but at the time, it seems sort of glamorous. I mean, you know, how they make divorce look in movies and divorce lawyers. Yeah, they just make it look so glamorous. And I don’t know, I guess I just thought that that’s what it would be like.

Suzi: It really wasn’t like that party song. Right? G L. A. M?

Christina: Yeah.

Suzi: So after you did your clerkship? Did you at that point, go to a law firm? Or did you start practice?

Christina: I did, I went to a law firm that was, you know, had a good reputation in our community. What are some of the top, you know, top, they put the sort of finger quotes, lawyers were there. And I thought that would give me really good exposure to high net worth clients and really digging in on more complex legal issues. And it did. But what was a little different about it sort of had a big frontality. So I literally had an office, it was a small office with no windows. And I had to be there from I want to say it was 830 to 630. Like, those were my hours, I had to punch in and punch out. And we it’s not that you couldn’t leave for lunch. But you were not encouraged to leave the office for lunch, they would pass around a menu every day for you to order your lunch, which was sort of the implication that, yeah, you’re going to be working through lunch. And I don’t mean to badmouth anybody, like if for any of those people that would be watching this, I value the time that I spent there. But it just wasn’t a good culture fit for me. I, I just I didn’t take to it. I was only there for a few months. And I don’t know, I did get the exposure to the legal issues. And I learned some wonderful things from the partner that I was working for. But I think long term, it just wasn’t a good fit for me. So I ended up somewhere else at a smaller firm four months later, and I stayed there for eight years.

Suzi: Wow. Okay. So that’s Did you have a mentor at that firm that you kind of worked with?

Christina: If I could really characterize him as a mentor, because, you know, one of the reasons I felt like it wasn’t a good fit for me is because he kind of just was in his office all the time. And I was in my office all the time. We didn’t work together much. And, you know, he later said to me, and I respect him being honest about it. He said, You know, I just I just realized I don’t I don’t want to train a baby lawyer. No, because that’s what I was at the time. Right? Yeah, it’s fair. And I get it, because I get it. Now. You know, I’m really not in a position where I want to do that either. But I did still learn a lot of things from him just by watching him do his thing. And you know, there were other wonderful attorneys there at the time, too, that I did learn some things from. So that’s sort of how it worked out.

Suzi: Yeah. And then you’re like I’m out of here. You went to another firm that you were at for eight years. At that, during that experience. I How quickly were you ready to, I guess, kind of like bail and ultimately start your own practice? Did like, Did those wheels start turning quickly? Or was it kind of later on?

Christina: Well, at first, you know, I never really thought about starting my own firm, I didn’t start out my law career, thinking, I’m gonna have my own firm. It’s not that I didn’t want to, it just wasn’t really something that was on my radar at the time. I just wanted to learn how to be a lawyer, and a good lawyer. So that was important to me. And over time, I did that. And then at some point, you know, I still, sometimes when I’m alone with myself, try to think about where that shift was. I can’t exactly pinpoint where that was. But I think every associate gets to a point in their career when they don’t feel like they need the mentoring quite as much. You know, you just get to a point where you feel like, you start to notice, I don’t need to ask as many questions like, What do I do with this, you just kind of know. And I think when you get to that place, you kind of feel less like you need to be at a firm, at least if you have that entrepreneurial mindset, which I think I do, I had that seed in me, I just didn’t know what at the time. And I started to kind of, you know, do the math in my head, which I think every associate does, it’s like, okay, well, this is how much I get paid. This is how much I bill, this is how much they billed me at. So you know, my boss is making like, X amount of dollars per year, you know, you start to do the math. And yeah, and you’re sort of like, okay, well, I don’t really want a, I kind of got tired of, you know, having to work the long hours, you know, ask permission to go on vacation, like, like any job, you know, like, you need to have your vacation time approved, and you have to be in the office, and it’s not nine to five, you know, you, you get up and leave a five as an attorney. That’s not cool. Like anybody’s worked at a law firm knows, you really, you can’t that’s frowned upon? We’ll just right? Yes, I just got tired of that. And I thought this is not what I want my entire career to be. So, um, so I just felt like it was a good time for me to go out on my own, I wasn’t gonna go work for someone else. So it was either I stay here, or I go out on my own. And I chose the latter.

Suzi: So were you excited about that? or scared or all the above?

Christina: I guess I was, I guess I was a little scared. I mean, I think the fear always and I know this from talking to other people who have done it is you’re always afraid you’re not going to get any clients. Like even though you’ve already calculated I only need five clients, I only need to build like 10 hours a week to just to, you know, make what I make now. You’re still afraid you’re not going to get those clients. But it didn’t happen. I did get the clients. And, you know, I think once that happened, I thought Why didn’t I do this sooner? And I always tell people, you that’s what you’re going to think because I think that has been most people’s experience that I’ve spoken to is they do think that is I don’t know why I was afraid. I should have done it sooner. But I think in some ways, I probably should have been more afraid than I was. Because even though we do the math, right? And you know, you’re and you start to thank God I’m getting so taken advantage of you know that he’s making like 10 times what he pays me. There’s some truth to that. But what you don’t see as an associate is you don’t see all all the other things that go into running a firm, and, you know, payroll, and management and marketing and just know keeping the building in order and your insurances and payroll taxes. There’s so many things, there’s a long list of things and you don’t see all that. So I definitely, you know, to be fair to my old boss, you know, yeah, he was making money, but I get now that he was doing a lot of other things too. And there were a lot of other responsibilities.

Suzi: Right? There’s a lot that goes on with with respect to keeping the lights on in like these big firms especially. So when you started your own practice. Did you bring over any clients from the firm that you’re you’re we’re at, or were you kind of starting from scratch?

Christina: I, I didn’t leave my guy on the best terms I wanted to. But you know, it’s sort of an age old story that when you leave oftentimes your partner, whomever you work for, they’re not happy about it, right? Sometimes a battle ensues, and I really, you know, I respected the gentleman that I worked for. He taught me a lot I learned a lot there, and I really did want to leave on the best terms possible. And I tried to do that didn’t work out as well as I had hoped. And I had actually offered to stay on and finish the cases I had on a per diem basis, which I thought was pretty generous. I don’t know anybody else who’s done that. And he declined. And so predictably, most of my clients followed me. So I kind of, you know, I already had this automatic book of business. Oh, good. Okay. Yeah,

Suzi: yeah. So I think it’s a good piece of, of wisdom, they’re just looking back on it, as you know, don’t assume that it’s actually going to be unlikely that when you say goodbye to your firm, that it’s going to be on great terms, like it happens, but it’s probably kind of the exception to the rule.

Christina: Yeah, it is. It is. It’s unfortunate. But I think, you know, I think the partners sort of, I don’t know, in some way, it’s like, they feel like they own you, you know, like, they think they own the clients, which we know is not the case. They’ve, you know, I see the sentiment a lot that, you know, I groomed you, you were here for all these years, I taught you everything, you know, you know, you’re being so ungrateful by leaving, like, that’s kind of the sentiment. And I don’t know, I you know, I didn’t see it that way. I know, it was my own perception. But I didn’t see it that way. I was grateful for the time that I spent there, you know, still have much gratitude for all the things I learned there. But you know, you will evolve and you grow as a professional. And it just was time for me to leave. And I hope that when, as I experienced that associates leaving because I have, you know, I hope that I’ve been able to remember what it was like when I was leaving someone. And, you know, be more gracious about it.

Suzi: Yeah, yeah. And when you started your own practice, what was your biggest obstacle?

Christina: God, my biggest obstacle, I have to say, I, I guess maybe it’s a little hard for me to remember, I’m sure at the time I was terrified. My biggest obstacle at the time was probably just learning to really be a business owner. And that’s something I talk about a lot of my podcast is, I’m interested in hearing people’s experience, when you realize at some point, I’m not just a lawyer, now, I’m a business owner. So you have to really learn how to think as a business owner, and be a business manager, because that’s what you’re doing. You can’t just be a good lawyer. It’s not enough. And I think when you first go out on your own unless you’ve had the the opportunity to really see someone else managing the business aspect of things, which I did a little bit. You you it can be a rude awakening. Right? You don’t know what you don’t know. So that was a transition for me learning really, that I have to pay attention to business. It’s not just about being a good lawyer.

Suzi: Right? So you had a co founder, right? With New Jersey divorce solutions? Did does that I don’t know who that person is. But do you all, sort of complement each other? And would you recommend like, if you do go out on your own to do it with a co founder or a partner who maybe complements you?

Christina: Well, when I first went out on my own, I was so low, you were so okay, yes. And I think I want to say did that maybe about a year and a half? And so I do recall the challenges of being totally solo is that every single decision falls on you. That’s scary. Yeah. You know, looking back on things I, I ended up getting business coaching, which really changed things for me, I would recommend that to anybody, whether you’re solo or have a partner is get business coaching, you need it because you don’t know how to run a business. And ultimately, though, I did partner up with John Laughlin, er, and we had a case together. That’s how we met and we became fast friends. And the stars just aligned properly, that at some point he was leaving where he was. And I think maybe he preferred to have a partner and I was recognizing that it would be nice to have a partner someone to kind of share all of these responsibilities and decision making with so we partnered and that’s when we created what is now New Jersey divorce solutions. And what I would say to people about having a partner is it can be wonderful. If it’s the right person, it can be terrible. If it’s not the right person.

Suzi: It’s like a relationship. Right. You know,

Christina: it is a marriage. It really is. I mean, and there are legal entanglements and you have to Really make sure that this person that you’re partnering with, don’t just do it out of convenience. You know, don’t just do it because oh, well, I don’t want a partner I don’t, I don’t want to be solo, I want a partner and oh, hey, you need a partner to let’s be partners. Don’t do that. So many people do that. And you know, much like getting married, there are certain things that you should discuss before you do that, to make sure that you are compatible, that you’re going to be making, you know, compatible decisions. Like, for instance, that’s something I see people fight over all the time, is money, and how much work each one is doing. You know, if one of you, if it’s your goal to back out of practicing law and focus more on other things, but one of you really wants to practice law and you want to build 200 hours a month, you guys need to be on the same page about that. Because if you’re not, at some point, there is going to be resentment, because one is going to feel like he or she is doing more than the other. John and I have had growing pains, you know, we did not have those talks before we partnered. So and I can say this all in hindsight. And we, you know, we’ve had our share of differences. But thankfully, we’ve gotten to a place where we were able to work them out. And I found we found that what ultimately ended up working best for us was to have very clearly defined roles, you know, you do this, and I do this. And because we’re both very independent, right, like, that’s why we went on our own, we didn’t want to have a boss or feel like we had a boss, and you just cannot have two people making all of the same decisions. You know, it doesn’t work, at least it didn’t work for me. So once we were able to really identify our respective responsibilities, things really started working very smoothly at that point. So that’s what I would recommend to people.

Suzi: I love that. So did you all do a kind of a written agreement?

Christina: We didn’t really that’s another thing I would highly recommend, right, which I’ve learned from our own mistakes is do that you don’t treat your relationship like it’s a business relationship, because it is it is a business relationship. And don’t forget that. Even though you may be friends, maybe you’re even related. You have to treat it like it’s a business because it is a business,

Suzi: prenup. postnup

Christina: kind of, I mean, there’s gonna be sticky things that pop up here and there. And, you know, I always say that the written agreement isn’t necessarily because, you know, you’re worried someone’s, you know, maybe going to screw you over or something like that, although it happens, like, let’s be realistic, those things happen all the time. But I think it really just clarifies things for both of you know, what are our respective responsibilities and obligations to each other? Make sure you’re on the same page about it, don’t guess don’t assume. Yeah.

Suzi: And then if there, if there is any confusion, you can go back and look at that agreement. Right. So it’s not like it’s as subjective. It’s not like you’re having a subjective argument or taking these subjective positions. You can go back I’m like, Okay, this is what we agreed to, right? You try to try to, you know, tailor how you’re going to go forward based on what is actually been written in that agreement. So I think that’s some fantastic advice. Let’s take a quick pause for a message from my sponsor, prominent practice.

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Christina: Yeah, and, you know, there’s also practical things that I didn’t think about either until I had consulted with an attorney, and you know, hire an attorney to advise you because somebody who does because that area of law because they’re gonna see things that you’re not even thinking about, like, for instance, what do you do? What happens when one of you wants to pull out of the business? Right? Now you should have some guidance as to what’s going to happen there. What happens if one of you dies? You know, right, we all know we’re gonna die. You know, those are just a few examples. And it’s just, it’s the responsible thing to do as a business owner and for your, your family, for sure to address those things.

Suzi: Yeah. So you have gone through this process with your partnership. And you started the divorce Happy Hour podcast, you’re the co host of that. Is John D. Does he co host that with you? Or do you do that with him?

Christina: He does, he co hosts. We initially started that out as CO hosting every episode. But then over time, it sort of has evolved where sometimes he’s doing it, and sometimes I’m doing it. Okay. But we’re, we’re making some changes in the firm that are coming very, very soon. Okay. Talk about that a little bit. But yeah, so we’re, we’re going to be ramping up the podcast to be a little more active in the very near future.

Suzi: Okay, I can’t wait to hear about that. So what was your inspiration for starting that podcast? You know,

Christina: I, I don’t even know like this one. You’re asking me this question. Because I couldn’t think back on it. It all just happened organically. You know, it wasn’t like it was necessarily planned. I remember there was someone that I’m still friends with her name is Nadia, she was selling ads, I guess, or like airtime for a local radio station. And she came by, and she was trying to sell us ad space. And at the time, I was just then really starting to be very interested in Journalism and Broadcasting and things of that nature, you know, doing something like on the radio or in front of a camera. And so when she came by, I said, Hey, you know, I’m not interested in an ad. But are there any opportunities to be on the radio? So she said, Well, yeah, you can buy space, you can buy like airtime. And so John, and I had been talking about doing the podcast, and it just came, this opportunity just came by at the right time. So we started doing the show on the radio on the radio, that’s really cool. It was so fun. I loved it, we’d actually go to a local studio. And yeah, you know, we felt like big time, like, wow, we’re in a real studio. And we’ve started live streaming and on Facebook, and it just grew from there.

Suzi: Was that a good business development generator for you all?

Christina: You know, it was I gave us a lot of visibility. And I always tell people about advertising, because this is something I hear a lot. And I, again, a lesson I learned to, in my travels, is people think, Oh, I’m not going to buy that billboard anymore, or that print ad because nobody, I didn’t get anybody from it. Because you’re waiting for someone to call and say, Hey, I’m only calling because I saw you right there on that board. That just doesn’t really happen that much. Right? What they do, and you know, they see when a lot of different places because they don’t see one time then call you right, like, you know, pay attention to your own buying patterns.

Suzi: You probably see something a bunch of times, seven times I say like seven impressions before like clicks was a concern. Yes.

Christina: And I think that’s true, because you keeping and over and over again, and maybe even in different places, like maybe they see the podcast, you know, when they see us, they see a video on Instagram, and then they see us in a newspaper, and then maybe they pass a billboard, and they see us and all these different places. And then eventually, when they’re ready, we’re already sort of they’re in their subconscious mind. And then the next time they see you, like I’m gonna call them. So I think that’s where it has value. And we have had people, numerous people, you know, more than more than, you know, a couple where it’s sort of a thing, where they’ll say, Oh, I love your podcast and listen to it all the time. Or, you know, I I heard you on the podcast, and I just I love you guys. And so it has its value there.

Suzi: So there was hadn’t been some impetus for wakeup pa podcast. So how did how did this happen? I need to know like kind of what your inspiration was. Was it organic as well? You’re just like, I love this podcasting thing.

Christina: Why not do it was it was I loved it. I loved the radio show. I loved the podcasting, but I was really interested in expanding the kinds of conversations that I would have. I didn’t want to limit it. To just talking about divorce and legal topics, so I thought, well, I’ll just start my own podcast, and I can just interview anybody about anything that I want. Yeah. And I sort of say, I’m like, I’m just a naturally nosy person, you know, and I think, various curious, I’d prefer that. And I think you probably know from your experience with your own podcast is that you can sort of get away with asking people questions on your podcast, that maybe you wouldn’t be able to ask them in another setting. Right? Yeah. They just sort of expected, you know, because you’re interviewing them. But when you meet someone at a dinner party or a bar event, you’re not interviewing them. Right? So if you start asking them, just these rapid fire questions about different things, they’re gonna be like, Who is this weirdo? You know, why is she asking me all these questions? So I, that that was sort of, you know, what, what sparked it? Yeah. And I just love it, and I just kept doing it.

Suzi: So you’re like, I can be weird and curious on my own podcast I can do I mean, that’s kind of the beauty of the podcast, right? Like, you can kind of do whatever you want with it, which is scary at the same time.

Christina: And, you know, there’s, there’s no pressure to, you know, to get like a million downloads, right? I mean, if you were hired by a major network for a show, I mean, first of all, you’d have to be somebody known and recognized for them to even do that. But even then, when you get on the show, you have to have ratings are not going to keep you around. But with a podcast, anybody can do it, right? Like, and it doesn’t matter. If you have a million downloads, it doesn’t matter. If you have two downloads, if you’re enjoying it, and you’re getting something out of it, then you can keep doing it. And so it kind of takes a little bit of the pressure out of it. And for me, was like the perfect forum for me to just talk to people and hear their stories.

Suzi: So what’s next for your podcast?

Christina: I don’t really know, I’m still doing it. You know, I was religiously pumping out episodes every week, sometimes more. And I think I slowed down a little bit on that. And I’m just being a little more choosy about the guests that I invite on. You know, before I felt like there was just this obligation like that I publish every week. And now I’m sort of like, taking some time to reflect Like, who do I really want on the podcast, you know, like, what kinds of stories or experiences are people do other people maybe want to hear from? So, also, I’m going back to school, I was accepted into Columbia University for journalism program.

Suzi: Okay. Congratulations. Thank you adulation so so let’s talk about that. When it what is this? When’s this gonna start sounds like journalism is, is a thing that you love?

Christina: Yeah, it is, you know, I feel like, you know, you’re asking me, where’s the podcast going? And I don’t know what’s gonna happen school. Yeah, I mean, that’s where it’s going. And I realized that, you know, this isn’t just something that I want to do as a hobby. I mean, I would do it as a hobby forever. But, you know, it’s growing into something bigger, where it’s not going to just be a hobby. No, it’s going to be a career, a new career. And I’m very excited about that. And I don’t know where it’s gonna go, I’m going to school with an open mind, I am very much looking forward to learning, learning from the best in the industry. And just seeing what happens, you know, seeing where, where things go.

Suzi: Okay, Ithink that that’s such a cool perspective, right? Like, you’re just kind of like how you’ve approached many things. Like very organically, like very open minded, you’re just kind of open and you’re like, not taking a rigid approach. Like, let’s see what happens when I go to Columbia. So what semester will you be starting? We’re in spring of 2022.

Christina: Yeah, I start in the fall, it’s a Fall Start only. And it was sort of fortuitous the way even the application process happened for me, because I’ve been thinking about it for a few years. And each year that would go by and pass the deadline. You know, I think, I don’t know how am I gonna do that? How am I gonna go to school on, run a firm and do all these things? And so finally, I had to take advice that I give other people all the time, you know, what are you waiting for? Just do it. And there were two weeks to spare until the application deadline. And I had to submit you know, various materials and essays and letters of recommendation and by some miracle got it all done with In those two weeks, and then two months later, exactly to the day got my acceptance letter. So I just feel like it was meant to be. It just happened when it was supposed to happen the way it was supposed to. And I start in the fall, and actually starts late August, okay. And in the meantime, New Jersey divorce solutions is sort of winding down. Because John and I have started another business. It’s called net squire. And it will provide, yeah, it’ll provide sort sort of like a plan words like internet, Esquire, I love it. And thank you. And it will provide online mediation services for divorcing couples, and online document preparation for divorcing couples. And it’s been something that we’ve talked about starting for a long time now, we just never really got it off the ground. And, you know, the timing was right. And it took more of a priority for us. And I think we finally gotten to a place now where it will fill a gap in the legal services that are presently available for people to get a divorce, have a professional do their paperwork, you know, give them some limited legal advice. And do it for one affordable flat fee without lid heavy litigation, because there are people that need that there are people that want that. Not everybody has to be, you know, Kramer versus Kramer. I know, that’s a really old movie, I don’t know, watching that. But, you know, War of the Roses type divorces, there’s always going to be a market for those. But there is a market for people other than that, too, you know, people that are relatively amicable when I say amicable, I don’t mean, you know, best friends, you know, holding hands, but are committed on some level to not having a divorce. Hopefully, I can curse that looks like a shit show. Right? I don’t mean, just doesn’t have to be that way. And I would really like to change public perception about divorce and how it’s supposed to be. I mean, it can be a shit show, if you want it to be. Yeah, but there’s plenty of people that don’t want that. And I want to create a place for them. Hmm, where it doesn’t have to look that way. And it doesn’t have to be hugely expensive. Because people should keep their money for themselves. They shouldn’t have to give lawyers 10s of 1000s of dollars and be left with you know, nothing. When it’s all done.

Suzi: This is a really cool concept. So how will this this will be available in New Jersey? I presume? Yes, y’all are barred there? How would that work outside of New Jersey? Would? That would do the would the parties have to be located in New Jersey for them to be able to use this?

Christina: Well, I mean, it is online, but because we’re only barred in New Jersey. And you know, there’s obviously rules about practicing law in other states, we would have to we could only represent people where there would be jurisdiction in New Jersey. So if there’s jurisdiction to file your complaint for divorce in New Jersey, then we can do that. We do have a long term plan to branch out into other states. But we’ve got to you know, once we get New Jersey down and HMI, then we can start talking about branching out into other states.

Suzi: So this, this is gonna allow you to it sounds like instead of doing more, it’s like hands on family law and divorce, it’s going to allow you to really kind of dive into your journalism program.

Christina: Yeah, I mean, we’re, it’s going to be limited to mediation. And for people that have already reached an agreement, because you know, not every divorce is terribly complicated. You know, sometimes we get calls a lot for people that say, we already kind of know what we want to do. We just don’t know how to get it done. We don’t know how to do the paperwork. And that’s largely who this is designed for. And, you know, drafting a settlement agreement and just whatever pleadings you need to get you divorced is not a terribly time consuming project. So our attention initially is that we’ll be doing that work and then as we grow, eventually hiring other people to do it, so my work will be rather limited. Right? And you because you know from litigation, Hey, you don’t you can’t do that part time. You know, you can’t tell a client don’t have an emergency on Monday between three and five. You know it There’s emergencies all the time. So the nature of the business is very different. And it will allow me to have more time to dedicate to school and other projects.

Suzi: So you are definitely someone with an entrepreneurial spirit, right? Like I can tell that you’re you’re an entrepreneur who happens to have a law degree. And you are going to have a journalism, you know, degree and how many years how long does it take to get to the program?

Christina: It’s going to be two years because it’s part time. They do have an accelerated program. That’s only nine months. But I that’s a very intensive and I don’t think I would have been able to do that with Matt squire.

Suzi: Right? Well, I’m so excited for you. And I want to be really mindful of your time. So do you have time for maybe like one or two more questions?

Christina: Yeah, I’m good. This is all I’m doing today.

Suzi: For more hours, no. So I do always like to know what kind of isn’t extra people like in their career, but we talked about that. But I would love to know, like, if you could look back, or if you could write a letter to yourself, when you first got out of law school, when you were just a little baby lawyer, you could give little Christina a piece of advice, what would you tell her?

Christina: I would just tell her, you know, don’t worry about things so much. I should really be like my 80 year old self telling my 40 something year old self now, right? The same thing. But and I would say this to anybody, just don’t worry so much about things, you know, I’ve, I’m seeing the value as I get older, and I’ve had a lot of coaching, just, you know, follow your desires where they take you, you know, your goals and the things that you feel like, Oh, I’m really interested in that. I’d love to do that. Don’t say no to those things. And and just don’t worry, everything’s going to be okay. It’s all going to turn out the way it’s supposed to. And it’s going to be fine.

Suzi: The universe will provide.

Christina: Yeah, it’s really true. Yeah.

Suzi: This has been so much fun. Christina, I really have appreciate your time. I’ve learned so much. I think one, you know, great piece of advice you gave to is like, why wait, if there’s something that you want to do, you know, maybe you’ve been out of law school for 10 years, 15 years, or maybe even 20 years. And there’s something like you have a passion, like, go for it. If you wanna go to journalism school, go for it.

Christina: Yeah, I just posted Facebook wisdom, I call it yeah, there’s this little postcard, it says it’s never too late. And you’re never too old. Of that. Yeah, I’m living by that.

Suzi: On that note.

Christina: Thank you.

Suzi: Thank you. Thank you so much for hanging out with me. And I would love to connect with you again, in a few months, especially like after you start school, I’m sure it’d be so busy. But I think journalism is something that I’ve been interested in as well at some point. And I would love to know how your experience is going in a few months. I’m sure it’s gonna be amazing. You’re gonna kill it.

Christina: Excellent. Thank you so much. I appreciate the encouragement and good luck with your podcast. I think you’re doing great. I love what you’re doing. And I can’t wait to see where you land. Maybe we’ll see you at Columbia one day V.

Suzi: I would love it. Who knows? We’ll see maybe you’ll be a professor like you just you never know, right?

Christina: You never know I don’t right now. I wouldn’t be surprised if that happens. But I think what I want to do is make documentaries. Ah, but we’ll see. We’ll see. We’ll see. We’ll see where my interests take me. But I’m, of course very interested in women’s issues and shining a light on things that are happening in our world that people just don’t necessarily see. Like, my favorite topic is the Harvey Weinstein reporting that Ronan Farrow did. It was brilliant. I read that book, but isn’t gonna read it. It’s an incredible book and issues like that, like the Jeffrey Epstein story. just fascinated by those kinds of stories. So anything that’s you know, women’s empowerment oriented is probably going to be you’re gonna see that coming from me.

Suzi: Oh, I’m so excited. Where can people find Christina? Oh, well,

Christina: thank you. Yes, best place to find me and you know, see what I’m doing and find any links is on Instagram. I’m at the prev so that sort of, yes, is sort of my nickname. Yeah. Um, that’s where it starts, you know, can pretty much see everything I’m doing there and reach out to me if anybody has any questions or, you know, wants to learn more about what I’m doing with the podcast.

Suzi: Thank you so much.

Christina: Your Thank you for having me. You do a great job of it.

Suzi: Thank you so much for hanging out with us today on legally bliss conversations. If you love This episode and you want to hang out with other inspiring and light gold female attorneys. Be sure to join the legally bliss community at legally blessed.com And be sure to follow me on Instagram at Susie Hixon. See you next time.

christina previte

Taking Your Legal Mind from Burdened to Brilliant with Claire E. Parsons

Season 1, Episode 014

In this episode of Legally Blissed Conversations, we are joined by Claire E. Parsons, a practicing local government and school law attorney, a mom to two girls, and an active community leader. She’s been practicing law for more than a decade and started meditating early in her law practice. Today, she’s also a certified meditation and yoga teacher and the founder of the Brilliant Legal Mind blog, where she writes about mindfulness in an approachable and practical way for lawyers and professionals. Claire is passionate about mindfulness and loves showing fellow lawyers how mindfulness can take their legal minds from burdened to brilliant.

Shownotes

Website: https://brilliantlegalmind.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/claireeparsons

Instagram: @claire_e_parsons

Transcript

DISCLAIMER: The following is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases, it is incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.

Suzi: I would like to welcome Claire E. PARSONS to the legally blissed podcast. Claire is a local government and school law attorney in the Cincinnati area, a mom to two girls and an active community leader. She’s also a certified meditation and yoga teacher and the founder of the brilliant legal mind blog where she writes about mindfulness and an approachable and practical way for lawyers and professionals. So Claire, thank you. Thank you so much for being on here. I was ecstatic when you agreed. When he accepted my invitation, I was like, yes, because I’ve been following you for for a while. And I noticed recently that you met a big a big milestone for your blog posts. So tell me a little bit about it.

Claire: Yeah, actually, two we approached, we got 5000 views last week. And then this week, I think it’s a milestone that I’ve written 50 posts this year, or actually, it’s since the founding of the blog, we got 250 posts, and I’ve had a few guest posts on there. But I when I started the blog, I did not know if I could keep it up. And I was kind of like a big question about whether when things picked up outside of COVID that we kind of push past into the real busyness of real life like I’d keep it up. But I have even though it’s been really busy this quarter, I’ve tried, you know, almost tried a trial that I settled last minute tried to hearing and kept writing. So that was really kind of awesome that I’m just still writing.

Suzi: So your blog, brilliant, legal mind, will you tell everyone a little bit about the blog, the content itself? And the origination of this? Like, how and why did you begin creating the brilliant legal mind blog?

Claire: Yeah, well, I mean, I love mindfulness. And mindfulness is something that has changed my life. Early in my practice, I had a difficult pregnancy with my first daughter. And it just kind of pushed me into a period of depression. And once I moved past that, and healed and recovered from that, I started to realize that part of what happened with that was that the way I was living my life was kind of problematic. And it was more like I was excluding myself isolating myself not making as much time for friends and loved ones, not relying on help from others. And that I was really overthinking things a lot. And so when I started to recover from that, one of the things I did was start meditating. And then slowly over the course of years, I started to undo some of those negative patterns, change how I live my life, and I just became a lot happier. And my practice did really well. So that kind of put me in the position where I was really passionate and interested in mindfulness. I really like public speaking, and I like writing a lot. And so that has been something that I’ve been doing for my practice, all along the way. During COVID, I had the opportunity to become a meditation teacher and do a certification just because I had more time at home. And I then did a yoga teacher certification to sort of add on a different level of mindfulness. But I have been writing and blogging since 2018, when I did the writers in residence program with Miss JD, which is a program for women lawyers and law students. It’s a really good resource for women lawyers and law students to look into. But I got to kind of play around with writing then and learn to do it consistently. I sort of played around with LinkedIn for a while posted almost every day there. And then once I finished my meditation teacher program, it just seemed like the the idea to move forward with a blog because I realized how much I was read. Art had already written about mindfulness, and already wanted to write about mindfulness. And so it just kind of grew out of that. And so I do find that lawyers and law students and professionals in general, they know that mindfulness can help them but what they struggle with is understanding how it can fit in their life, and what it might do to like their self image. So I think sometimes when you can get beyond that and talk about it in real ways, I think you can reach more people.

Suzi: I love that. So do you find writing the blog? Sort of therapeutic in some ways?

Claire: I think writing Yeah, yeah. Yes. I mean, I think it’s not just the blog, I think writing in general, for me is therapeutic. And that’s kind of what I’ve learned. So I part one of the biggest reasons I continue to meditate, you know, I’m not somebody who really has ever had big bliss experiences or anything like that. I’ve had some pleasant meditations, obviously. And I do like how it feels now. But like, it’s really not about having good meditations. For me. It’s more about when I meditate, my overthinking and a lot of other issues that I have in my life sort of calm down. And so overthinking for me has been something that I have had my whole life. And it wasn’t until I started meditating that I started to see that I could actually not do that. I thought that I had no control over it. And a lot of it was more that I didn’t recognize that I was thinking, or I would always try to think my way out of every problem. Instead of realizing that maybe this isn’t even a problem for today, this is a problem for maybe three years from now. And I started to see how much that robbed my life of joy, and helped me in like, basically, maybe miss good times. So when I meditate, it helps me not do that so much. But part of that overthinking piece is the writing because one of the things I noticed with my meditation practice is I would have a lot of ideas that would kind of come back to me over and over again. And so I finally realized that those aren’t problematic things to just get rid of and ignore, those are ideas for writing. And so I would see them in meditation, I would sit down, and they would just come out really easily. And for me, like I actually like journaling wouldn’t be enough, I have to actually publish the piece to really let the thoughts go. And so the writing is sort of a piece of that. And it kind of fits with meditation, but it’s, it’s something that helps me let go of things and process the world. And I do think that you know, enough people have told me that, like some of the things, the ideas I’ve presented have helped them understand some of these ideas better. And so you know, it’s just been a fun way to let go of thoughts and build a community.

Suzi: I love that. So went, let me just ask you, when you think of mindfulness, like what it what does that mean, to a lay person who isn’t familiar with this space at all? What what is mindfulness mean to you?

Claire: Yeah, and I probably would say that most of us have experienced mindfulness in our lives. And it’s probably like, the times when we feel good and happy and like our lives have meaning. It’s just awareness in the present moment without judging it. And like, intentionally, right, I mean, that’s the definition that the researcher Jon Kabat Zinn would use. And I think that’s a good one. But really, it’s just present moment awareness. But the judgment piece is a huge part of that. And it’s something that we often overlook, we do it so automatically, that we maybe don’t notice how much we are judging, and I don’t always mean judging, and like the, your judgmental sense or anything like that. But just evaluating your experience constantly. And when you evaluate your experience, there’s always this push and pull with it. There’s always this idea that, you know, our brains are even set up, that we are always looking for a reward. And we are looking to push away the bad stuff. But it’s that push and pull that actually creates a lot of unhappiness for us, we can’t change our brain always looking for a reward. But we can sort of game the system a little bit if we can learn how to provide better rewards that are more wholesome for us and watch some of our habits.

Suzi: So are you teaching your children your girls mindfulness and meditation

Claire: in some way, so my daughters are five and nine. And so when they were very little, we did teach them how to take a deep breath. And that helped. I was actually pretty surprised at how much they would do that. I think one of the unintended benefits of it was when I made them take a deep breath. I had to take a deep breath to model it. And so it made us both calm down. And I think like, a deep breath, like I mean, everybody says take a breath, whatever it when people are escalated, but I don’t think people realize how much that really can matter. If you take a truly full deep breath in and out. That could be like five to 10 seconds and if you’re talking about a time when you’re starting to get escalated. You know that’s a time when it is enough time to notice your escalated and start to calm down. out in a deep breath is something that you feel in your body. So if you can come back to that deep breath and feel how you feel in your body for just a second, it may help you get out of the thoughts and come back to reality. So that is one of the the very small things that you can do to bring it to your children. I think a bigger thing, though, is that I do it. You know, we have done some yoga, and we have done some meditations and stuff with my girls. I have like one for kids on the on the blog as well. But I think the modeling it from parents is something that you can do that’s more important, where, you know, you’re demonstrating that you take time for yourself, and that you do things for yourself, and then when they become interested in it, then you can answer their questions and help facilitate, you know, getting them things, they needed resources and meditations and stuff to help them out.

Suzi: Yeah, so teaching by example, rather than a some type of role methodology.

Claire: Yeah, I mean, I think I think like with some of these practices, you know, there are a variety of them. And so not every practice works for everyone. But in particular, with kids, like they, they are gonna model your behavior a lot. And they, but they don’t always like you to tell them what to do. So. So if you, if you kind of push it on them and force it on them, they’re not going to want to do it. But like, there are a lot of things that kids can do. And like, for instance, the deep breath is really important, helping them learn how to pay attention to their body and relax it. You know, that’s one thing that you know, my oldest daughter, at least, we’ve used when we just got our vaccines recently, you know, she’s like, she realized, hey, it actually when mom tells me to relax, I take the shot, it’s because it hurts less. And my five year old that doesn’t do anything for she just fights and screams and we have to like, restrain her. But you know, that everyone things work different for different people. So I think like with kids, the example is the is the biggest thing you can do.

Suzi: For sure. So where do you see this fitting in with law firms? Have you had an opportunity to go in to like a law firm environment and teach mindfulness and or meditation and or yoga to any groups within law firms?

Claire: Yeah, not not physically, I’ve done it via zoom, because of the last few years have been COVID. Because I started I think the first time I even started teaching was in 2018. So it wasn’t too much before then that I began. But yeah, law firms are looking at it from wellness committees. We’ve we’ve done, you know, I’ve done more things also with like my chamber and other professionals, and I’ve done some things with banks and other groups as well. So there’s, I think there is definitely some reception of mindfulness and yoga. I think that, honestly, that firms should maybe more consider, you know, longer term courses with individuals instead of one off events. I think a lot of people know about mindfulness at this point and understand it and are not, we’re not as much in the phase where we have to tell them about mindfulness. I think now we’re in the phase where people need more, more resources in terms of how to actually use it. Because I go out and I teach people and they they asked me questions where it’s clear that they’ve taken yoga classes, or they’ve done some meditation. But the questions they are asking is, how do I actually do it? Because I’ve tried, and I’m struggling with XY and Z. So a lot of my presentations are more aimed at that stuff. But like, I think that having people kind of come in more than just one session is where I think it’s going to be going next, because I do think people need some more direction. And honestly, like, if you go to a mindfulness center, you do a retreat. Those are all led by teachers, and in by and they’re done in community. And the reason is that none of this is easy stuff. So apps are wonderful. And some have question and answer. Opportunities, like 10%, happier. But having a person that you can actually talk to is great. And having group discussion about some of it is also great, because the best thing I have encountered from retreats is honestly seeing other people ask questions, and realizing that I’m not crazy, because I have that same issue. And when you hear enough people ask questions like this, you’re like, Oh, this is really normal. And I think you start to feel not so alone with some of your psychosis and start to realize that it’s not it’s not really that there’s anything wrong with you. It’s just the human condition. And so I think some of those things would be beneficial for firms to think about more like courses or groups or community kind of elements to I think that’s what would be most It’s helpful for people.

Suzi: Right? So the participants could have some type of opportunity for progression or transformation over time, rather than just kind of like a one and done deal. That makes a lot of sense.

Claire: Yeah, there’s a lot of skills, I think that people kind of need. I think that that what meditation does, and a lot of times, the way it’s taught is that you pick up skills along the way. And good teachers can help people progress from skill to skill and sort of move forward. I think sometimes though, a lot of people start out meditating, and they think I’m doing this to get more calm. And so they get discouraged when they find that they aren’t calm at all, that they’re a mess, and they have all kinds of thoughts and judgments, and all kinds of things happen, and they can’t find quiet and peace and all of that, well, you don’t start out calm, you’re doing it to get calm. And so the thing is that you sort of have to let go of that goal a little bit, and realize that you have to build the skills, and it’s the skills that help you come back to calm when you lose it. But that does take time. And, and honestly, with lawyers, some of what we have to learn is that our brains aren’t the only way that we solve problems, we do have to recognize that we have bodies, we have limits of our bodies, that our bodies actually control a lot of what happens in our life. And there’s no fighting that. And there’s also the idea that I think, you know, with a lot of people who come to meditation, they focus a lot on the breath. And they focus on focus, because that’s what lawyers are comfortable with. We’re less comfortable with our emotions, and with feeling lack of control. And so I think if people, you know, kind of understood the importance of care and responding with kindness to themselves and others as they practice, I think they would have an easier time moving forward with it and feeling like it’s adding value to their life. Because that care. And that compassion piece is something that I think is, is has been missing, or not emphasized enough in a lot of the discussion on mindfulness. I’m starting to see it emerge more, which is good. But I think lawyers are still struggling with that, in particular, that actually makes a lot of sense.

Suzi: So what do you do? Like, what advice do you have for that lawyer who comes to you and says, like, I really love to, you know, to be able to meditate, but my brain is going crazy, or I can’t call my brain? Like, I feel like that’s kind of the big thing. People complain about whether or not they’re an attorney. Right. That it’s like an overactive mind.

Claire: Yeah, I think that I think it would be dependent, my answer would probably depend on who I’m talking to, and what I’m observing from that person as they ask it and what the context is. But I think one thing that I think is important is, when you say you can’t calm your mind, why is why? Why do you want to? And if your mind, and all the thoughts are the problem? Why are you using that same strategy to try to fix it? Right? So you’re thinking, I can’t call my mind, it won’t stop. So I need to think of another thing to do to make it stop. So one answer a lot of times, a lot of teachers will tell you, when you are sitting in meditation and a distraction arises, whatever it is, the answer is to observe it to notice it’s there, possibly to notice how it’s affecting your body. And then to go back to the breath. It’s not to force the idea, the thoughts away, it’s not to judge yourself, it’s just to go back to the breath, or to go back to whatever your focal point is. And so the the way that you get rid of thoughts is really practicing, not engaging with those thoughts, and not judging those thoughts and not being disturbed by those thoughts and not pushing them away. Or when those thoughts cause pain to you, or bring up hard emotions, learning how to skillfully care for and hold those emotions. But a lot of what meditation practices is really, instead of making, making the thing go away, like maybe you anger is a really good example, if you get anger feelings, you can’t force anger down and you can’t force it away. But you can learn how to hold it and build space around it. And so in doing that, you realize you have lots of space, that anger in proportion gets smaller, and it controls you less. And you’re not going to be able to do this every time. I mean, even if you meditate for 20 years, you’re not going to be able to do this every time. But if you can gradually build that skill, you can maybe do this six times out of 10 when before you would get knocked down and thrown off balance 10 times out of 10. And that is a huge improvement overall in your life. And so that’s that’s kind of how you deal with the thoughts and the can’t clear your mind. And all of that is that you realize that you don’t necessarily have to, because you build the confidence that you’re not disturbed by every thought, hmm.

Suzi: And then perhaps that capacity to feel anger, or sadness or whatever kind of that negative, I have to be careful about judging our own feelings, right? Whatever that emotion is that capacity actually allows us to have a greater capacity for happiness. That’s been something that I’ve noticed for for me. Let me ask the, this is sort of something that I’ve noticed myself with with meditation. Sometimes when I’m meditating, I have like a really good idea. Like something will come into my head and like, whoa, and I have this urge to stop and write it down. Because I’m like, it’s gonna go away forever. Right? So what is your advice for people who, like, have thoughts like that during a meditative state? Let’s take a quick pause for message from my sponsor, prominent practice.

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Claire: I do find that for me, a lot of the best thoughts come back. I mean, the really ones that matter, and the things that are important, I think that they come back. So I would say there’s some element of trusting yourself. The pure mindfulness response to that would be to, to just watch the thought, and then see if you can come back and let it go. And then see what happens. There’s also, you know, there’s also the school of thought, though, that if it’s going to just totally distract your practice, and you won’t be able to focus anyway, what’s the harm of writing it down? I would say that probably, if you I mean, honestly, some of some of what mindfulness practice is, is it’s it’s SOT being a scientist, and, and being willing to experiment and observe with what happens. So I don’t think it’s a huge deal if perhaps you, if you stop a practice once and write it down. I don’t think that is probably the end of the world. I would observe what happens with your practice, and whether you can go back to the practice and what you feel like after you do. If this is something that is happening to you all the time, though, and you always have the ideas, and you always want to write them down. I think that you might be missing something, if you always do write it down. Because I think that part of what might be going on potentially, is you don’t trust yourself to remember it. Or do you want to not feel something that could come up in your practice, and the mind comes up with this great idea to distract you to get you to stop? Because I’m not saying that’s just you, that’s all mines, they can be kind of devious sometimes and throw stuff at us. And so that’s why just watching and committing to the practice can be very good. But at the same time, if you if you are flexible with your practice, there’s also opportunity to learn there too. So I think it’s, yeah, I kind of, you know, I’ve kind of written this about this for like, for moving when you practice like, should you move? Are you allowed to move when you practice? And my answer is you’re allowed to move when you practice. And so if you, if you kind of set it up as there’s two paths, you can take my foots asleep. I’m in meditation practice and I want to move my foot. So the one path is moving my foot and I’m making myself feel better. So that might be practicing flexibility. And that might be practicing like compassion for yourself, which is good. If you don’t move, and you kind of stick with it and you watch the experience, and maybe you see that it goes away over time, or that it really doesn’t bother you, or you just can ignore it after a while. Well, that’s probably FRAC practicing discipline and focus. And so I don’t know that you can really make a wrong move, right. But I think it’s watching what those patterns do for us and what those choices do for us staying present with it and seeing. But if you are, I will just say that though, watch out for the recurring habits, because if there’s something drawing you away from practice a lot, that could just be the mind not wanting you to feel stuff, because I can tell you, I’m somebody who I have habits of crap up for me all the time, where it’s trying to get me to check out. And it sometimes takes me days or weeks or whatever, to realize that’s what I’ve been doing. And I can kind of work myself out of it. But we all do that. And that’s all normal stuff and meditation.

Suzi: Yeah, I think it’s beautiful that you’re teaching this right now. Because it’s helping people realize that, you know, you don’t have to go into your meditation practice being perfect, and being able to be completely Zen for 30 minutes, or whatever it is, right? Like even highly experienced. meditation teachers, you know, have struggled kind of with don’t struggle, I guess it’s not really the correct term. But, you know, it’s kind of an in and out of meditation state. So I’m curious about, okay, so I got an email from you, I guess it’s part of your blog. And you had mentioned, decision making, and the frame of scarcity, mindset versus abundance. And you also went on to talk about stress management. And I’d like to read a quote from from that, if you don’t mind, because it was. So I think it’s kind of a good segue. Because I think that, you know, attorneys are really wanting to find ways to help them. Manage stress, right. But this is what you said, to be sure vacations and time away are essential to managing work as stressful as law practice. But for me, it’s not necessarily weeks off, or trips to exotic locations, that have helped me find a sense of abundance in my life. Rather, my life began to feel more abundant, more prosperous and open. When I began consistently devoting small pockets of time, to my passions. I just love that. Like, I think my chin hit the floor whenever I read that. So and then he went on to say, and this was kind of highlighted in the pose is abundance is a product of small, small acts done consistently over time. But what I’m curious about here, Claire is what are your passions, right? Like, I feel like your passions are shining through right now. Because we’re talking about yoga. And, you know, meditation and mindfulness. So what are some?

Claire: Yeah, I mean, either, I really like cooking. I like writing is is a big thing for me. I actually really like speaking. And I like teaching. So the blog and mindfulness, it’s kind of the blog right now is a big part of that. But like having, I guess what I what I meant by passions, I guess, is that I have enough energy left after my practice, to do something else for the world. I’m not and I’m not somebody who really cares a lot about like, fancy trips, and you know, clothes and all kinds of stuff like that. The monetary piece for law practice has never been like a huge thing for me. I’m a local government lawyer and a school lawyer. And so doing something good for my community and doing something good for other people, is what makes me feel good. But doing only the law practice piece, I think. It just doesn’t feel like enough. Because there’s other pieces of my personality. And so being able to, you know, talk about the softer side of life, and being able to explain the power of that, for people like, like me, for other lawyers and being able to interpret that. And to be able to write kind of, in a fun way, sometimes humorous, I hope, I think, you know, to be able to sort of use some of other other creative things that I never honestly thought I would have been able to do, like, learn how to make images on Canva because I’m not artistic at all. And to be able to keep expanding that and reach new people. Like that’s just something that, you know, I didn’t really expect and it honestly kind of came out of a dark time in my life. But I’m like, grateful for it now. And so it’s it’s the fact that you can kind of plant these little seeds over over the course of your life. And you end up with something really great that you never would have had. And you can’t necessarily get just from law practice. And I don’t want to make it sound like I don’t like my law practice. I actually love my law practice, but it is it is draining in one way that my other creative in activities with respect to mindfulness kind of, they kind of actually grow together almost symbiotically, so that it gives me energy to go back and do my other parts of my law practice.

Suzi: Let I’m curious, where do you see your own law practice and your mindfulness teaching going in the future?

Claire: I haven’t necessarily thought about it because it wasn’t like a big plan to be a meditation teacher, honestly. I mean, I started talking about mindfulness because I really liked it. And I thought there was some value for professionals. And it went really well, like the first time we ever talked about mindfulness, it was for women professionals. And they were bringing chairs in the room at this this big regional summit, I spoke up. And like I was somebody and I’d never presented before. So it wasn’t like part of a new master plan. I do think like, it’s something that I’m going to be like using as a tool in my practice for a long time. And people ask me, like, whether I use it with clients or anything like that. And I don’t overtly talk about mindfulness with clients, unless, like they asked me a question about it, or it comes up. I do. I did recently, like, use a lot of compassion ideas when I was talking to a witness in a case because she was really kind of worried and scared about testifying. And it was really useful. But I didn’t need to tell her like that researcher, Kristin Neff has all these principles, I just needed to sort of help her through the the situation. Excuse me, I do think like, I am very interested more in conflict resolution, I do special education work for school districts. And I think like, and also as a litigator, I just know that a lot of times, if you can figure out how to solve a problem, instead of making it bigger, there’s a lot of value in that. So at some point, I probably will become a mediator, and work towards some some resolution, potentially also within the special education and school law arena. But I don’t exactly know where the whole mindfulness thing is, is going, I think, like in the future with the blog, I’m gonna be preparing some courses, and I hope writing a book one of these days, but like exactly where this is going, I don’t know, because I think COVID has kind of shown us we need it. But I still don’t know that we have a lot of clarity about where it’s going. But I’m having fun, and enjoying talking to lawyers from, you know, all over the country about these issues. And I do think there’s a lot of need for just practical and useful advice from somebody who actually knows law practice, to help interpret this idea for lawyers.

Suzi: Right. So if you could give a piece of advice to a lawyer, specifically, with respect to maybe mindfulness in his or her practice, like just a little nugget, what would it what would it be?

Claire: I think that, you know, when we’re when we’re talking about the United States and the West, we have a lot of ideas of in our culture, about that kind of give us the idea that there’s something wrong with us that we have to fix something. And, you know, that kind of goes all the way back to Christianity and even beyond that, right, the original sin idea. And I don’t want to argue theology necessarily, but I think a lot of us have this kind of concept. And one of the things that really helped me was I found teacher Tara Brach, who’s really well known. And she kind of says that over and over again, and all her talks, right? There’s nothing wrong with you. And at a certain point, I think when you practice, I hope that’s the lesson you get is that, that fundamentally, you’re good. You have the potential to do bad all the time, right. But I think that a lot of times when when we learn how to manage conditions, to make sure that we feel safe and happy love, and at peace, when we can figure that piece out. I think what you’re going to find is that you do good things, then you are a good person in those conditions. So I hope that the the lesson that people can understand from meditation is that they are not fixing themselves. They don’t need to. What they need to do is get back to what their real nature is and I think they’ll see that it is good. And I think they have to To trust it, right to trust that they’re, they’re good. And so when they do that, I think then the next thing is creating the conditions to let that goodness just shine through. And I know probably some lawyers listening to it and think that I sound like a hippie and all of that. But I think when you practice enough, I think that’s what you will see. And I think that can come through and it can come through even in a contentious deposition, it doesn’t mean that you can’t try a trial. And it doesn’t mean you can’t litigate aggressively. It doesn’t mean you can’t make a good argument in court. It doesn’t mean you have to be soft, but it does mean you have to trust yourself, know your boundaries, and understand that fundamentally, you’re a good person, and you deserve good things. And, and I think it makes it so much easier, when you accept your own goodness, to accept the hard parts of life. But those aren’t necessarily your fault. That’s just part of life.

Suzi: Right? Jewish, like every courthouse had a mindfulness meditation room. So before court, you could kind of go, you know, have a few quiet moments take a deep breath.

Claire: I think every courthouse has that already. I think it’s us realizing it, you know, I, I was at a retreat one time. And I was like, oh, retreat, you’re great. Because I can just set my identity down. Right, I can just not be clear, the lawyer clear the mom, I’m just a being sitting here in a meditation retreat. Then a few months later, I realized, oh, anytime I sit in meditation, I can set my identity down. I’m just clear here sitting, that’s all I’m doing. And then a few months later, I realized I can set my identity down at any minute, I can just take a breath and just be a person just being courthouses already have meditation rooms, if you can learn to pay attention to what’s in your head, and what’s in your heart and watching your body. And be with that experience, that that’s meditation, you’re always there. A nice quiet space is something that facilitates that, but it’s not necessarily necessary to do it. 

Suzi: You don’t need to bring like your yoga mat and your big round, you know, soft meditation pillow. Yeah, that’s a really, really good point.

Claire: To the extent we can facilitate those things by creating rooms that, that give a symbolic gesture towards or a practical gesture towards honoring a need for quiet and contemplation in legal places. That’s one thing. But we don’t necessarily need those spaces to be able to do it. The harder thing is actually doing it in our lives every day. Like that’s the hard thing.

Suzi: Yeah, and just integrating that into your life, right? Like when you sit down, before you start working on a legal matter, right, maybe take three to five minutes to do some deep breathing or whatever works for you. It’s not like me, looking for a meditation room is almost like trying to find some type of external circumstance that would prevent me from just taking a few minutes by myself, right, or just kind of in my own head. No, but I think that that that point is, is very valid. So Claire, I want to be very respectful of your time. Where can people find you?

Claire: Yeah, so I’m on LinkedIn at Claire E. Parsons. And feel free to reach out or message me, I actually look at messages on LinkedIn. And also the blog is brilliant legal mind.com. And we are on WordPress, as well as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Suzi: I just want to say thank you so much for having this conversation with me, Claire, I have been so excited about learning a little more about you and a little more about mindfulness. And before I close, I do want to say one thing I had asked clear, what do you want the listeners primary, primarily young female attorneys to know about you? And she says that I used to be a female attorney, too, that I was scared and had no clue how I can make it work as a mom and a lawyer and then I figured it out. So I think she’s figured it out. We’re all kind of figuring it out, though. Right?

Claire: Still figuring it out though.

Suzi: Thank you so much for hanging out with me, Claire.

Claire: Alright, thanks for having me.

Suzi: Thank you so much for hanging out with us today on legally bliss conversations. If you love this episode, and you want to hang out with other inspiring and light gold female attorneys, be sure to join the legally bliss community at legally blissed.com And be sure to follow me on Instagram at Suzan Hixon. See you next time.

claire parsons

Providing Innovative Legal Services for Entrepreneurs with Keren de Zwart

Season 1, Episode 013

In this episode of Legally Blissed Conversations, we are joined by Keren de Zwart, founder of Not Your Father’s Lawyer. Keren specializes in corporate transactions and securities law, and assists entrepreneurs and businesses at any stage–from entity formation, intellectual property protection, mergers and acquisitions, raising capital and through exit. Being born into a family of entrepreneurs, she grew up enthralled with the excitement, risk, and success that comes with building your own business.

Keren believes that the legal field is changing and you don’t need your father’s lawyer with fancy mahogany furniture and through-the-roof legal fees. Entrepreneurs, in particular, are especially adept to seeking out quality services that are cost-effective and efficient.

Shownotes

Website: https://notyourfatherslawyer.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kerendezwart/

Instagram: @notyourfatherslawyerv

Transcript

DISCLAIMER: The following is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases, it is incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.

Suzi: I would like to welcome everyone to the legally blessed podcast. And I would love to welcome Ms. Keren does Wort after working for 10 years in the corporate world, Keren had a desire to fill the legal gap for entrepreneurs and small businesses by replacing the outdated billable hour model with flat fee pricing while finding a way to recapture the so called work life balance. With over a decade of experience in corporate transactions, Keren has worked with every type of business from side hustlers to raising millions of dollars and taking companies public. Today, she helps entrepreneurs get hashtag legally legit. I love that through her law firm, not your father’s lawyer. She resides in Orange County, California with her husband and two children. So welcome again, Keren. I’m so so happy you’re here. And I’m so happy to talk about you. And not your father’s lawyer. So before we talk about not your father’s lawyer, because this is very important. I do want to go back just a little bit. I don’t want you to think back about when you decided I want to be a lawyer. What the hell was happening?

Keren: Right ourselves that what was going wrong in your work, and I was getting what was going through your mind. It’s actually funny. And first of all, thank you for having me. But it’s funny that you say that because there’s kind of this on unknown origin story that I have been saying I wanted to be a lawyer since I was a little kid. And it’s kind of weird, because my parents are not lawyers. There’s no like immediate family members that are lawyers. So we think that at some point, when I was eight or nine years old, my dad made a comment about how I really liked to argue, and I’d make a good lawyer and it was kind of like, put the blinders on. Oh, that’s a good career. I’m going to do that. And that’s just kind of, I went for it. I just, that was my path.

Suzi: Yeah, that’s okay. That’s really cute and fun. I actually really liked that, right? Because I think that a lot of times, parents will pick up on little things that their children do, or they say, and they’re like, I’m destined to be a lawyer, she loves to argue or, you know, a metal for medical school, she loves to play operation. Whatever the thing is, I don’t have children, but I am an auntie a three. And I observed them right. And the little things they do, I’m like, okay, destined to be a physical therapist, or, you know, just fate or so I think that’s really that’s a really fun story. So at some point, you know, you decided, I’m going to take the LSAT, right? Like, that’s kind of what I feel like people like that’s when it’s a real, right, because you are making that decision to commit to investment of time into some actual preparation of going to law school and ultimately, being a lawyer. So what was that like for you?

Keren: Absolutely. I actually, you know, in hindsight, I might have considered some other things too, but because I had kind of been on this path for so long. And I studied political science in undergrad because I loved the kind of government and history and English and so it was kind of like a wrapping together of all of those things. But obviously, Poli Sci is very natural pre law. Major. And so I kind of just had my blinders on and went through and said, You know, I’m going to study for the LSAT, between my junior and senior year of college. And I didn’t do any on campus interviews for anything else. I didn’t consider anything else, which like I said, in hindsight, I think would have been good just to see what else was out there. But I, you know, made a plan and I did it and I didn’t really do it the best way you could ensure I was really focused on school itself. And I was involved in a lot of leadership roles in my sorority and on the Panhellenic Council that oversees all the sororities and a couple of other school related leadership positions and that was really where I was passionate? So the LSAT kind of was on the backburner for me. And it was more like a means to an end. Yeah. Yeah. And, you know, but but it was really? I mean, that’s what it was. It was a means to an end. Yeah, I mean, standardized tests are, you know, I could say a lot about that. But I think that it was just the, you know, it was very busy. I had committed to myself to getting a 4.0, my whole senior year at USC at the University of Southern California, and to, you know, it’s a good school, and it’s competitive. And I had done pretty well, but I really wanted to meet that goal. So that was kind of my focus instead of the LSAT studying. So I kind of went to the classes and didn’t do much else, which reflected in my LSAT score. 

Suzi: So that’s a wonder like, are any of us doing doing it? Right, right. Like, we’re all just kind of figuring it out as we go along. Um, it’s okay. You You took the LSAT, and apparently, like, maybe your scores weren’t like off the charts. But you got into med school, right?

Keren: I did. Yes. Where did you go to law school. So I went to law school at University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law. It’s in Sacramento, California. I actually had never heard of this school. I had kind of, I mean, my dream dream school was NYU Law. But my husband, who was my boyfriend at the time of about a year and a half when I finished undergrad was living and working in the Bay Area. And so the idea of going across the country didn’t sound great. Anyway. So I was looking at schools like UC Hastings in San Francisco, and I wanted to kind of go close to him, but not directly to him because that was like I’m a I’m an, you know, young, powerful woman, and I’m not going to chase the boy move. 

Suzi: I’m not staying on causing him. Right.

Keren: Right. So I actually, right, of course not. I mean, I joke that, you know, in the end, it worked out because he’s my husband, but wouldn’t have been the same story if it didn’t work out. So he I heard about McGeorge from like a mailer that I got. And I applied to a couple of other schools. And then then the the end, what I really liked about McGeorge was a they gave me some money, so I liked that. Yeah, and B, it was close, but not too close to my husband, my boyfriend at the time. And it had a really highly ranked international law program. Justice Anthony Kennedy was a kind of a visiting professor that did a program in Austria every summer. And that was really appealing to me, because I always wanted to do corporate law. And I thought I wanted to kind of do international corporate law. And so they kind of like the marketing. Got me there. Yeah. They did. Yeah. Yeah.

Suzi: Did you study abroad while you were there? Did you take part in the Austria program?

Keren: I did. Yeah. I went to Austria and then that’s the only program at the other program that really kind of sold me from a marketing standpoint that I considered and didn’t do is Pepperdine law has a really cool study abroad program as well, in London, I think. And then I was considering a joint JD MBA at the time, so Pepperdine had a good a good program for that.

Suzi: Yeah, I actually did a study abroad program through Santa Clara. And they were they did a an international IP program in Munich. So I think that anytime people can like they have the opportunity to take advantage of an international, or like some type of study abroad program, whether it’s an undergrad or even law school, do it. I cannot recommend it enough. Like, it might not be sort of like that traditional, you know, daily grind of being in class, like in law school class, but just the experience and the people that you meet are huge, right? Like that absolutely. makes such a huge difference. So okay, so you went to law school, and I’m sure you loved every minute of it. So let’s just go. Let’s skip it all.

Keren: Skip it all.

Suzi: For to like it never happened. Okay. I like to pretend like it never had right. Okay. So yeah, we’re on the same page there. So look, it never get the result happened. Right. But the three years? Yeah. So you graduated and you’ve got this like fancy certificate? What happens? Like did you go work for a law firm?

Keren: Yes, my story is kind of funny. About six months into law school. I was like, I don’t know that this is what I want to do. I don’t know that these are my people. But I don’t want to drop out because, you know, I’m an overachiever, perfectionist and like many people who go to law school, and I didn’t want to be a law school dropout. So I continued through and then at the end, I told my family, you know, thinking about not taking the bar because if you take the bar gonna be a lawyer, and then I’m gonna wait make up, you know, 1020 years from now saying like, I never wanted to do this. My parents especially we’re kind of like that. It’s not, it’s not really a door, you should close on yourself. Why don’t you just take the bar, and then go from there. So of course, he took the bar and passed the bar, and I became a lawyer. And I graduated in 2009, which they call the last generation of lawyers. Because we were in a very bad recession. There were awful jobs. I mean, a lot of lawyers were working at Starbucks, you know, they weren’t even working as lawyers. So I had interned at a firm between my first and second and my second third year, and then a clerk there after I took the bar. But before I got the results, because in California, it’s four months before we get results. Yeah. And I, they, I mean, they didn’t have they were paying me pennies. And they, they didn’t really have enough business. It was a small corporate firm. And I got a job opportunity for a litigation with a midsize litigation firm here in Orange County. And I just didn’t want to do that. I just didn’t want to do that. litigate. I am not a litigator. I never can be a deal maker, not a deal breaker. I like the negotiation and the positive aspect. And I drafted a PowerPoint presentation to my firm about how they could continue to pay me the peanuts, they were paying me and I would bring basically bring in business to cover my salary and then some and and convinced them to let me continue to work full time for them. Yeah. So go. Well, I started working there. So it was it. It was after you had started working there. i Well, no, it was I was kind of clerking there and a couple of days a week after when we were waiting for bar results. And I basically took the managing partner to lunch and said, This is why I think you should take a chance and let me work for you guys. I know there’s not a lot of business, I’m going to help bring in the business. I’m not going to take a lot of money. This is what I want to do. I don’t have this other job offer. I don’t want it. And they agreed. So I that’s how I started my career.

Suzi: Okay, so that’s really interesting. And I’m sorry for my confusion there about the chain of events. I get this now. But okay, so you’re the first person that I’ve ever spoken with who has done a PowerPoint presentation.

Keren: I actually started this when I was a child, I did a PowerPoint presentation when I tried to convince my parents the car I wanted and so it’s it’s a, it’s my bit of it. Of my bit. 

Suzi: I absolutely love this. Okay, so super cute. So you do this PowerPoint presentation, you get hired there. And this is of course, 2009. We’re deep in our Great Recession. Yes, people are being given boxes of or, you know, to like empty their offices. Out the door, like every place is turning to fat, it’s difficult to get jobs. I knew people in New York who were encouraged to go do pro bono work, right? Like, okay, well, I’m giving you a first year salary, like six figure salary, we’ll do half that and you just go do it, go do it. Go do something like we’re gonna try to pay you to just not do something else for a while. So that’s, that’s, um, that’s really interesting. So how long were you at that firm? 

Keren: So I was at that firm for almost five years. And it was a learning experience was a small firm, I was the only female attorney. I baked for a while it was literally three partners, and I was the only Associate Attorney plus some support staff. And then they hired people on and at the time, it was awful, like no resources, no support, figuring things out, I wouldn’t I was one year into my practice, and any attorney knows that we don’t know squat for four or five years. And I had to I had to take a phone call by myself regarding a trademark issue, like a trademark conflict issue with the General Counsel of a multibillion dollar sports company. And I just thought, I don’t even know how to BS my way through this. Like he’s going to know I don’t know anything. And in hindsight, it was actually amazing because when I compare it to some of my peers who went to midsize and big law firms, they had none of the i By the time I was a third year attorney, I had taken a company public from start to finish by myself. I had you know, done a lot of complete negotiate, you know, contract negotiation, money raising things that young associates typically don’t even touch. So at the time, it felt like crazy imposter syndrome and a horrible experience, but then, in the end because of kind of this weird path that my life took, and I went into business for myself that I had all this experience that I never would have had if I hadn’t worked for a firm like that.

Suzi: Okay, so this is amazing. And I love this because, you know, I think back to my younger days out of law school, I had some friends who are at pretty big firms, and they were telling about telling me all about this document review that they did. But that was all they did, right? And then like, a couple of years later, I’m like, okay, no. Are you taking on more cases? Well, no, they have me on document review. Like, how much are you getting paid to review? Doc? Doc, I don’t even understand why this is happening. Like this makes no sense. But this is fascinating, because I’ve looked at those people. And guess what? They’re still in those big farms. Right? Your story’s a little different here. And I think this is what’s going to be a really cool transition. You were able to have some, you might not realize it at the time. But you know, looking back, you’re like, dang, I had some good experience, right, like, getting to speak with that. The general counsel on trips. I mean, if anything that’s like, you know, kind of getting you’re getting very, very getting a lot of experience very quickly. So how do you think that all of that really helped you start ultimately not your fault, not your father’s lawyer?

Keren: Yeah. So I think, to be honest, I never expected to go out into business on my own. I’m actually a child of entrepreneurs. So it’s not that crazy when you know, the story, but I was like, I’m a corporate ladder climber. I’m like, I love the extrinsic motivation and the attaboys. 

Suzi: And, you know, like working for other people being going above and beyond the checks that come Yoli

Keren: Yes. And not your father’s lawyer. No, totally. And not your father’s lawyer. Actually, never it started as a blog. So basically, as part of my business development program for my firm is, I got them I built their I literally, I don’t know anything about websites, I built their website from scratch, I created a LinkedIn presents a Twitter presence, you know, I got them on social media when they were kind of like, nobody likes social media. And you’re like, well, it’s going that way. And so I and I drafted new weekly newsletters that we’d send out to the clients, but then I would put them on this blog that was called not your father’s lawyer, because one of the big differences between me and obviously like, I’m, I’m a millennial, I’m an older millennial, but I’m a millennial, and they are not. And I saw the excitement of like LegalZoom was really just up and coming then and, and I kept telling them, like, there’s so much that we could do that. LegalZoom does, like all the flat fee worked for our small clients, and they were like, people don’t want that. That’s not how my, the managing partner, literally when I said we need a website, like a real legitimate website, and he said, Nobody finds a corporate lawyer on the internet. And I said, first of all, that’s factually inaccurate. But also, just think about a relationship. You know, somebody’s if we get most of our business from referrals, and I say to you, oh, I know, I have a great corporate firm. And I tell you, what are you going to do, you’re going to look them up online. And if they’re not online, they don’t feel legitimate. So I was focused on building this kind of internet presence for the on top of my billable hours. On top of all the work, I was just, I did this on my own time, because I believed in it. And I guess, somewhere in me thought I would kind of do it as part of my growth plan with the firm. But it became apparent to me very early on that I was not interested in like a partner track at this firm. This is not where I needed to be at the forefront, not like kind of running the race at the back where all the other firms have kind of caught up with technology, and we didn’t. So it started as a blog. And then I left the firm when I had my daughter when I when she was one years old, one year old, I left the firm, because it law is inherently not really a mommy friendly career as as a rule right now. And it became very difficult and I I was really passionate about being successful. But I had I was kind of stuck in these hours and I had this baby I had to learn how to take care of so I left and I actually went into an a big commercial real estate company. And it was a much more family friendly environment. I had like a much better experience with like my pregnancy and maternity leave at that firm with my second child. And all that time. I still kept getting because I had been doing all this kind of business development people started coming to me. Can you do this for me? Can you do that for me? And some of it I would refer back to my old firm or to one of them. I have a colleague that worked with me that I was close to and he moved to a different firms. I referred a lot of business to him, but some of it was like they can’t afford a law firm there. It’s easy work. It’s work I can do in my sleep I had done it for years, like trademark filings, setting up entities, drafting contracts, negotiating contracts, reviewing contracts. So I kind of started taking it on the side just for friends and family while I was like growing into the senior manager role in this company. And then, and being a mom of two, and this is an aside, but actually a business partner and another business too. So it’s not your father’s lawyer as a full time business actually came out of like, something had to give, and I have to give something up. And I actually was going to drop all these side hustles. And my husband was like, Are you crazy, like, this is your opportunity to build your own thing and to have that control and my husband travels internationally a lot for work. And so there’s a lot of, you know, coordination as a mother that I needed. I needed some flexibility. He works in the tech industry. So there’s like so much more flexibility for him than for me. But when he’s out in Singapore, obviously, you can’t do the school pickups and all of that.

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Keren: I think a lot of parents especially that are professionals deal with this. It’s just not talked about that much. But I know I’m not the only one that I really struggle. I’m I am not cut out to be a stay at home mom, I never will be I couldn’t be i All of my friends that I’ve grown up with are and they’re wonderful. And they’re I honestly, I think that I’m incredibly more selfish than they are because I care very much about my career. I’m very ambitious. But I really straddle both equally, and I and I believe that you can be ambitious and successful without committing to these ungodly hours and this kind of like butt in chair mentality, right? Like, oh, no, we have to be at our desk for 12 hours a day, because that makes us look like we work hard. So it became more and more apparent, especially when I had like a toddler and a baby, that if I wanted that version of success, I was going to have to build it myself. And it wasn’t going to come in a traditional corporate role. And I joke because I took the two most old school industries, right law and commercial real estate, like there’s no more maybe accounting is the finance and accounting. It’s the only other old school one with the hours and the kind of hustle and like the busyness is glorified, and it just wasn’t going to work for me long term.

Suzi: Yeah, I mean, and that is just considering but in seat time for built for billable work, right. Like think about the expectations that a lot of these firms have for business development after work, right? They’re like, No, you need to go to the networking event, right, or the golf course this weekend. And you’re thinking, I want to go to recital, I want to, I want to get my child to soccer practice. So you said that this is not going to work for me. I’m going to create something that that does. Yeah. So let me ask you, do you think so this is kind of something I’m getting from you. I feel like you are an entrepreneur slash business person who happens to have a lot.

Keren: Yeah, I think that’s a perfect, a perfect description. But the truth is, Suzy, I did not realize that about myself until the last couple of years. Because in my mind, I was not a business person. I was not an entrepreneur, like I like certainty and stability, and I want to see what’s coming down the road. And I never realized that and I’m sure some of it is inherent obviously, as a child of entrepreneurs like some some of it’s probably in my blood, but I didn’t really identify that way until I was kind of forced to choose and I tell people it felt like fate. led to me to accept that I wasn’t going to find success the way I wanted to, in the traditional corporate setting. And today now, like, almost three years removed from the corporate world, I would never go back, I couldn’t go back. So it takes some time. But at the time, it felt like a failure. Like I was admitting to myself that I wasn’t going to be able to be and, and there was a lot of pressure on me too, from friends and peers that were kind of like Keren can do it all. She’s a mom, she’s a lawyer, she’s, you know, she’s career, her careers growing. And I kinda was like, Yeah, this house of cards is gonna fall any minute. And now not, I’m not just letting myself down. I’m letting all these other people down. Like, if I can’t do it, can anybody and so that felt like, kind of a had to come to terms with success doesn’t have to be in that traditional picture that I always thought it would be?

Suzi: Yeah, I mean, at the end of the day, what is certain and what is stable? Totally. I mean, if anything, look at 2008 2009 and 2020.

Keren: Absolutely, absolutely.

Suzi: Right. So, you he’s been, you’ve had your own practice for three years.

Keren: Can you tell me a little time for three years? Yeah, well, I’m full time, full time for three years. But I mean, I’ve been running this practice for seven years, for seven years.

Suzi: So what is your practice look like? And how are you? How are you? Balancing? Right? Like, yeah, you leave the corporate world or you leave, you know, a traditional traditional law firm, but you’re still running a practice, which comes with its own? You know, its own challenges, right? In a paycheck every two weeks. Yeah, to make, you have sometimes you have to make decisions on your own. There’s no, you know, partner, you know, above a partner or above a partner, there’s no like chain of command you have to go through. It’s like, okay, if Keren wants something done, boom, new policy implemented. But is that good? Right? So how is this working for you? 

Keren: I want to hear I think it’s a great question. And, and to be honest, I think that there are obviously pros and cons to it. And there are what I always tell people like when you are thinking about it in your own version, in your own world, you have to take in the nuances of your personality into it too. So I might be better or worse at certain aspects of this, of running a law firm then somebody else could be. And so the paycheck part was definitely scary for me. But and I think this is really important to talk about openly, because especially when it comes to entrepreneurship, it’s like very, like, sexy, like, just make the leap. And I was not that person, I was like, I’m going to make a year plan before this is my date, one year out that I’m going to put my notice in this is how much I want save, I had a partner that makes a good living, so we can make the decision together. So I am very much not the like, jump and figure it out later kind of person. And I don’t think a lot of lawyers are we tend to be risk averse as a group of people. But I do think that that’s this kind of piece of like, especially what you kind of see on social media of like entrepreneurship, it’s like I, I am this overnight success, and it’s not how it works, and most of them are liars. And the few that are true, there was a lot of hustle that happened before, it’s very rarely an actual overnight success. So part of it was like making financial plans for myself that made me feel comfortable to be able to leave, which was really important to me. And part of it was obviously because I had a partner making the decisions together about what this would look like what works for our family. And then a lot of it was learning on the job, right? So definitely not having the resources, quote, unquote, in house when I’m working and I’m a sole practitioner, so it’s me. And I’ve learned to really cultivate the relationships I have in the law with peers and mentors to be able to get feedback were needed. And that’s, I think, really important, especially when you work for yourself. And then a lot of it is the business running pieces that I actually really like that’s I’m an operations person. So this is kind of my sweet smile was like running the business more than I like practicing law. So the you know, the the marketing and the and the operations and the kind of accounting and stuff all of that kind of feels natural to me, but it does get overwhelming and I’m actually like, literally in the midst of kind of a reworking of how I spend my time because I have a lot of plans for the business but I’m too busy working in the business to work on the business. So I I think I’m like a big proponent of systems and processes and plans. So and sticking to them where you can, you know, because I all of 2021 was going to be this year of all these things that I’m working on. And none of that has gotten any worse.

Suzi: So excited. 2019 and 20. Right, we were we were also excited.

Keren: Yes, so many plans.

Suzi: I know, so many plans, and something just, you know, kind of crashed and burned. Yeah, I look at my practice, I do trademark law as well, I look at it as kind of having three pillars, right kind of that administrative, the actual providing your legal services, and the business development. And so it’s like trying to kind of get all of those little pieces to work together. And you’re You mean, really you need to revisit where you’re putting your time and where it makes sense. You know, fairly regularly, I would say probably at least quarterly, have you considered expanding your practice? Because it sounds like you’re giving this big smile? It sounds like you know, you there are certain aspects of your your law firm that you love. And I think it’s really interesting that you’re like, I kind of liked the operations may be more than sitting down and practicing law. I am very similar. I’m very similar. So what are you? What are your thoughts on possibly hiring in sort of in that space that you maybe don’t love quite as much have you considered anything like that?

Keren: I’ve considered it a lot. I, you know, part of the unique model that I built is makes it hard to expand, it wasn’t really meant to be a scalable business, I didn’t see this as like, I’m gonna build a law firm. And to this day, if you tell me, you know, I have this other business that I’m involved in. It’s nothing to do with the law, and it’s much more scalable. And that I’m less passionate about the actual inner workings of that business and the industry. But I am happy to grow that business. And I always tell people, like, I don’t want to manage a law firm, I don’t want to manage lawyers, like, I like what I’m doing, I’m very picky about the clients I work with. I love my clients, which is so funny, because I thought I hated law for so many years. And it was like, No, I just hated, not being able to control who I was working with and what I was doing. And I love my clients, and I love the people I serve. And I’m super passionate about access to information, I primarily, overwhelmingly work with women business owners, that I’m really passionate about getting the information to them, getting them access to the things they need to start and run and maintain their businesses and grow their businesses. And a lot of that I do for free, you know, because I’m passionate about it. So I’ve spent a good two years really kind of planning out the different versions of this and actually have a call at the end of this month about some potential support. But I don’t know, you know, I’ve kind of it’s like, it’s, I built this as a little niche. And it’s, it was always meant to stay that way. And I have I have another business idea that I’ve been wanting to work on. It’s also outside the law. So I see my particular business, as a niche business that will not grow much bigger than me can’t grow much bigger because I am maxed out.

Suzi: That’s okay. Right. Like, I feel like there’s a lot of pressure out there in terms of Oh, scaling, like when she gets this point, oh, to irritate a $50,000 firm. Okay, let’s get you to 500 Just because you just have a million, right, um, you know, what, not all of us really care about that.

Keren: Right? Like, and I think, yeah, go, you’re I was saying, I think I think that there’s, I mean, don’t get me wrong, I care about money. And I want to make lots of it. But I have my feet in a few different things. And I really want to be cognizant I have, you know, the other business, I have a business partner, and we have a team of people that work for us. And so I have a priority to deal with that and help that grow more than this, because I am the only person here. And so I do think that there is but that goes back to what we were talking about earlier that you have the ability to kind of know your personality and what it is that you want and how you want to grow, and then do whatever works for you. Because, you know, I know quite a few people who are running multimillion dollar law firms and you know, they’ve got a pretty good thing going and if that’s what you want to do, and that’s what you don’t want to do. And I know quite a few people who are running part time, especially moms that are kind of running part time niche little consulting or legal services, businesses that you know that it’s just to kind of keep their minds sharp and talk to adults with it. And, and that’s good too.

Suzi: Yeah, I think that’s what we kind of forget. And we we get I do, you know, kind of gripe about and you know, complain about the the law but at the same time, like, the career itself is very flexible in terms of what you can do like what can be possible for you, right. And it’s really beautiful thing that you have these women like that you’re talking about, and also with you having a family and a few other businesses, but these women that you know, that have children, and they’re there, they’re still maintaining some element of a law firm or practice or consulting, just to kind of keep their mind sharp, like, how many careers can you really do that?

Keren: I agree. And I think that it is, you know, it’s funny, because especially in that great recession, because they always say kind of like a law degree, you can do anything with a law degree. And I just was laughing as we struggled to, you know, find jobs. And we’re like, you can’t, nobody wants to hire you at McDonald’s, because they’re like, that person’s not going to stay. And the firm’s don’t have a role for you. But the truth is short of economic crisis, you can do anything with a law degree. And I think that what’s great is that it really teaches us to be agile with our minds. And just to think critically, and that can be applied. I mean, I know I literally worked in commercial real estate with apps, you know, I went into a management role with no experience in commercial real estate. And the the industry itself is totally learnable. And the skills that we have the relationship management, the, you know, critical thinking, the breaking down complex concepts into pieces of facts, you know, that is a skill that is very useful in very, in a lot of different environments. And I think that that can kind of give people the sense of confidence that they can do, whatever, you know that this path can take them in a number of different ways. 

Suzi: So this is such great information. And one thing that you mentioned a minute ago, I think, is very interesting, and it’s a common thread that I’ve seen a lot is the importance of working with people that we love to serve. And you know, that having proper kind of client vetting processes at the beginning, I think are so key. And it really, I mean, honestly changed a whole lot for me, when I started doing that more, and I don’t know if it was because I was able to become more selective or exactly what it was, but I’m getting to work with and serve, the people that you love, can help us sleep a lot better at night. Right, so let me ask what are like? Do you have a vetting process? Or are there certain key things that you’re kind of looking for whenever you are interviewing prospective client?

Keren: It’s a great question. I think that like many people at the beginning, it was kind of like, whatever comes in the door. And I was really fortunate to build my business from honestly, like, from social media, and it was kind of a friend, you know, friends and friends of friends, and then strangers through social media, but that there was this, you know, they were in groups, online groups of women entrepreneurs, and other kind of like minded people. So there was already kind of a natural vetting for me. And then I do think that and a lot of my clients now today are referrals from existing clients. So I have again, that kind of, they will vet these people for me, then I feel good. Yeah. But I think that some of it is kind of a learning process as you go, you know, we can’t just like you know, an interview in the corporate world, you can’t know everything about a person or their needs or who they are and what they need and want as you go, but I do you think that especially if you hold like a very specific niche, like you or I do that you do this over and over again, you can really get a sense of a person in that initial consultation. And for me, the way that I view my role as a lawyer is obviously, you know, a professional who is going to provide services but what was really different for me, how I how I operate this practice versus the way that the firm I worked for operated, was that kind of traditional, like, we know what we’re talking about, we’re telling you, it’s very condescending, I mean, my the managing partner at my old firm would like to swear at and hang up on his clients and you know, that’s not the way I want to run my business. And so I’ve really view Yeah, I really view it as a customer service industry, you know, and that my job isn’t to tell you what you need, it’s to listen to what you need, and then fit what you need with the law, right and make it work. And so and obviously, this is unique and like a transactional environment, it’s doesn’t work that way in litigation, because usually you have to tell them like this is, this is how it is. And so in a transactional environment, it’s a lot easier to do that. But I really think that because of you as a service oriented business, that more than what they’re doing, or how much they can pay, or whatever, it’s do we connect? Do they trust me? Do we feel like, is it somebody I can talk to like a friend. And that is, in my opinion, Paramount when you’re talking about a relationship with a professional services provider, because you have to trust them, they rely on us. And I always joke, especially in the transactional world, like, I joke that like, you wouldn’t know if I screwed it up anyway, because 99 times out of 100, this contract is never going to become an issue, you know. And so they have to trust that I actually know what I’m doing. And it’s my job to sell myself to them more than it’s their job to sell themselves to me.

Suzi: I love that. So let me ask, I’m curious, what is next for you?

Keren: I have a lot of plans. So I mean, not your father’s lawyer, like I said, it’s kind of operating at max capacity. And what’s next for that is honestly to, to build a little bit more balance in it. Because I have a hard time saying no to people, like I said, I love my clients, and I love serving the people that I serve. But it’s it’s been a little too much the last year that just constant working overload. So finding a little more balance there. The other business I work in is a very specific business. It’s digital marketing in the waste industry. And it’s growing a lot. But we’re growing a team. And that’s the part that I really love. Like I said, you know, me at the operations of that I manage all the operations in that business. So I’m excited to continue to grow that. And then I have some other ventures, some are kind of offshoots of the lie. Do you have a template shop that I’m working on building out a little better and some potential courses and kind of jumping on that digital train, the digital product train? And then I have a Yeah, and I have an E commerce business that I’m hoping to get to work on.

Suzi: Well, you’ve got a lot going on. I love it. Yeah, exciting. So where can people find you?

Keren: Now you can find me primarily on Instagram at not your father’s lawyer. And I’m on Facebook also at not your father’s lawyer. And LinkedIn is just my name Keren disorder, which is spelled really funny.

Suzi: Yes. You know what, and these will be linked in the show notes. 

Keren: Yes. So I figured don’t try to spell it. Yeah.

Suzi: I thought about it. I was like, Okay, no, we’re just going to burst kind of into there. So this has been a really fun conversation. I’ve loved learning about Keren and all the different facets of you. I think that you are bringing a really interesting perspective that I haven’t really spoken with anyone about so I just want to thank you so much for hanging out with me today.

Keren: Yeah, thank you so much.

Suzi: This is great. Thank you so much for hanging out with us today on legally bliss conversations. If you love this episode, and you want to hang out with other inspiring and light gold female attorneys, be sure to join the legally bliss community at legally blessed.com And be sure to follow me on Instagram at Susie Hixon. See you next time.

keren de zwart

Empowering Women Through Organic Mentorship with Danielle Bass

Season 1, Episode 012

In this episode of Legally Blissed Conversations, we are joined by Danielle Bass, a corporate attorney focused on transactional matters involving information technology and intellectual property who has followed her passion for teaching and mentorship.

Danielle undertakes many pro bono matters, including acting as general counsel to a local 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides music education to children and has completed over two dozen name changes for members of the transgender community.

She frequently guest lectures at the University of Michigan Law School on transactional and intellectual property practical matters and will teach a practical course on Technology Transactions. Danielle was recognized in Crain’s Detroit’s 2021 class of Notable Women in Law.

“Time is of the essence. Invest time in what brings you joy and pure love. Everything else is a waste of time.” -Danielle 

Shownotes

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/danielle-bass-71324510b/

Transcript

DISCLAIMER: The following is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases, it is incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.

Suzi: Welcome, Danielle bass. Thank you so much for hanging out with me today on the legally bliss podcast. So let me tell everyone, just a little bit about Danielle. She is a corporate attorney at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich and Rosati where she focuses her practice on transactional matters involving information technology, my favorite intellectual property, data and media with an emphasis on commercial relationships. Daniel frequently drafts and negotiates various agreements regarding the development, license and transfer of intellectual property at property, media and technology. Prior to joining W str. Danielle was a partner at Honigman and a corporate finance associate at dichotomic. Offset Danielle earned her JD from the University of Michigan Law School where she graduated magna cum laude and order the kois when Danielle is not on the clock, you can find her on her yoga mat or in the kitchen with her daughter baking. So thanks again for hanging out with me. Today, Danielle, let me ask you what is your favorite treat to bake with your little girl?

Danielle: It’s tough. So she she’s big on scones. It’s actually like the cutest thing she she we make scones in the airfryer of all things. And her favorite thing is like helping me mix and then we put it in the airfryer. And she likes like raised cinnamon raisin scones. And last week we made pumpkin spice. Oh, Lord. Oh my gosh, that sounds amazing how they turn out, they turn out okay. They turned out good. She told me that they were too dark on the top. But that’s just like how air fryers work but we’re working on it. 

Suzi: You know, work in progress, right? 

Danielle: I’m like every day of my life is like Top Chef toddler edition. And I haven’t you know been fired yet. So I just I nodded. I say Thank you, Chef, but and we call it a day. 

Suzi: Yeah, yeah. I love that. I love that. So you also said that you are on your yoga mat? A lot. So let me ask you. How has yoga impacted your legal practice? 

Danielle: Excellent question. So it’s ironic, but the owner of my yoga studios and acts like tax lawyer of all things. But really, I started practicing. I was a three sport athlete in high school. And I started practicing, like, as soon as I finished my track season, my senior year, and it really just helped make me present for an hour or however many, you know, minutes of my day where I can connect with my body get out of my head and just feel like I’m like getting the Yes, I was like I like to say it and it makes me more present makes me more thoughtful. And it helps me in in my everyday work in just like taking a breath, taking a beat, taking a pause. Besides just like the physical benefits. It’s more of just like, letting my mind marinate around whatever is happening. I do transactional work, like you mentioned, and oftentimes, it’s not as contentious as I’d say, are my friends and litigation, but it is the situation where both parties want to have their way. And so trying to advocate for your client, you know, aggressively or zealously as well as you know, getting a deal done is a very, you know, tough tightrope to walk. So it helps me do that. And it also just not being on a screen for an hour. I remember just like being in college, and it was like the only time I was away from my phone. And that was like really monumental. And now it’s literally I’m away from every screen available to me. 

Suzi: That’s amazing. So you have sort of your own kind of internal, I guess, practice that you’re doing versus following a video, particularly when you’re like at your 

Danielle: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. So during the pandemic, I built myself a hot yoga studio.

Suzi: Good for you.

Danielle: Are you really the only thing keeping me going, but I do live streaming with my studio, and then I practice on my own. 

Suzi: So I love that. I love that. So you love yoga? And okay, so let me ask you this, this is this is really cool. You told me something about you that I thought was absolutely fascinating. And when you told me, I was like, Oh, my gosh, I have to talk with her. You manage to become a partner, by the time you’re 29 years old. And I know like, as you know, many of us when we, we get out of law school, you know, if we go straight to law school, like we’re looking 22, out of law out of college, right? 25 out of law school and being general and being very general. And that’s like your traditional kind of path. And that’s a fairly like, straightforward path. And even at that point, I couldn’t imagine making partner at 29 years old. So I want to know how you did this.

Danielle: Excellent question. No. And it’s funny, because I had found in undergrad, I had done like a capstone course, where we were just thinking about where we would like to be in 10 years, and I was 22. I was 2122, I was 21. And, you know, I had drawn a picture of myself at 21. And then at 22. And, and I said, I’m going to have, you know, I’m going to be married, I’ve been dating my now husband, at the time, we’ve been married, I’m going to have one kid, which I knew somehow was going to be a girl. And I’ve, like forgotten about that. And I’ll be partner at a law firm, and like, all this stuff, and like I had forgotten that I like made all these plans. And then here I was, you know, January 2020, looking at this picture me like, Whoa, I did all of the things, it’s like vision boarding, you know, times a million. So I started my career at, like you mentioned at a Dykema got that as a general corporate associate, I did everything kind of just like soup to nuts, securities financing, corporate governance, all of that fun stuff. And I really always liked soft IP, I liked commercial transactions, I liked the vibe of just helping businesses, get a tool, get a service, you know, sell something, buy something rather than, like companies, which felt very just like, just it just not my speed in terms of timing, and just like energy. And so I wanted to do more of that work. And, you know, I just wasn’t getting the opportunities that I thought I was, you know, that I needed at the time. And around that time, a good friend of mine who was in law school, when I was an undergrad at Michigan, was moving home. And he was starting the technology transactions practice at Honigman. And was like, come be our first associate hire, and I was like, No, I’m super happy. Because I also thought when you went to a law firm, you went through the whole, you know, just, you know, dating process of interviewing for summer associate position, like you find your firm and you stay committed, you are loyal, you are married. And so there I was, you know, like 18 months, you know, at this firm and thinking like, this isn’t for me, like I struggled with that. So long story short, they ended up leaving leaving Dykema going to Honigman and loving it and really just jumping in with two feet. They have a shorter runway two partnerships. So you’re eligible after year five, which was, which was what a year I was. But it was also what I like to think is just like, I took the bull by the horns, and I took ownership of every single transaction or client interaction that I had, I treated every partner like they were my client, I treated every client like they were, you know, the most important thing in my life. And I tried to learn as much as I could, I was I was the only associate in the group. So I was doing just a ton of reps on everything from you know, services agreements, to, you know, SAS arrangements or licenses and things like that. And the thing that I found, you know, was I quickly earned the trust of a lot of clients, because I was human, to a certain extent, I always like, I think, you get two types of lawyers and big law, like the like, we’re gonna get it done. And this is how it’s going to be and like very prescriptive and like, has kind of no personality and, and like, I like what I do, I want to continue to do this for a very long time. And so like, I tried to get to know my clients, I talked to them, like I would talk to, you know, you or my friends or my family. You know, I make really, really funny metaphors to try to explain business issues to them. And I’ve found over the years that people like that, so I was given a lot of trust, and a lot of responsibility really, really early on, because I indicated I was ready for it. And then I showed that I was so you know, I was a fourth year associate managing $800,000 will book a business and looking at the bills and managing the client relationship. And that was

Suzi: Amazing.

Danielle: So yeah, I made partner at 29 with my I think 18 month in tow I had been on maternity leave the year before and that was a big concern of mine. Yeah, and that was that was a hard kind of management of work life balance is a you know, Leila my daughter. She’s just figuring out how to be present for her but also be present for my clients and and just being honest about that. But it took a lot of grit, a lot of, you know, mental toughness. So a lot of sweat on my yoga mat. 

Suzi: But Leila on board, I love that. So this is I can tell that client experience is super important to you. And you have, you have a track record of going above and beyond for your clients. Like I love the idea of doing with the metaphors, it’s really cool. They were able to develop trust in you, even though you were a young associate. Right. And I think that sometimes clients are like, Oh, she’s so young, you know, can she do this? So can you give me like, one of your favorite tips in terms of how to make your clients feel amazing or appreciated?

Danielle: Yeah, so in the type of work that I do, I’m often communicating either with directly with business people, so people that don’t have any legal experience, and I’m really kind of talking in layman’s terms with them, or I’m working with in house counsel that isn’t necessarily up to speed on the particular subject matter that I’m an expert in. So a lot of what I’m doing and something that I think no one really teaches you in law school is client counseling with like, kid gloves, right? So explaining something and not saying like, look, we need the indemnity, to cover your infringement, we have to make sure that this is carved out from the limitation of liability. Like that doesn’t resonate with your average Joe. So talking about what kind of, you know, what does this feel like in the real world? What are the actual risks? What do we do about it? And a lot of that is like an education piece. You know, having conversations with the client about, you know, why is this important to you? And like, what helping empower them to ask questions about how this impacts them, because they, they’re the ones driving the commercial terms, they’re the ones driving the deal. I’m just there to hold their hand from a legal perspective and a risk allocation perspective. And so again, I’m like big on like metaphors and trying to help I use dating often, which is ironic, because I’ve been with my husband, since we were 17. And I, like have no idea how dating works anymore. But you know, I talk a lot about like, Look, guys, we’re prenup in the relationship, like we think we’re in love, we think that this is going to be you know, rainbows and butterflies. But what happens down the road if things don’t turn out as planned, you know, who’s going to take care of you know, the dog, how, who’s gonna keep the house, like, we need to think about these types of things. And usually, one it disarms them. Because legal gives a lot of business people, particularly anxiety, they feel like we are a hurdle, they feel like we are not on their team. And like, that’s, that’s why I went to law school, I am the legal problem solver. Like I am on every single team of my clients, I want them to see me as their trusted advisor, I don’t want to be I hate when lawyers get the reputation of being like just, you know, hurdles in the deal. Like that’s, that’s just like, not my vibe. And so one is like, I like to disarm them. I love making my clients laugh. Sometimes it’s not appropriate, but I do it. And I and then just like answering questions and being like, does that make sense to you and, and trying to empower them to feel like they understand the deal because the worst case scenario is that I make decisions for a client that they feel uncomfortable with, and then they sign a deal something goes wrong, and they come back to me and they’re like, what did we do this for and, and, and they can’t explain it themselves. So I think that’s how I like to make my clients feel special. I also am always very, very communicative about expectations on like turnaround, and availability, and all of those types of things. Every client thinks that they are the most important client and I like to make them believe that they are so doing my best to help that. 

Suzi: I love that. So what would you say your superpower is as an attorney and human.

Danielle: Superpower? I can handle a lot, I have the, like, persistence and like, just capacity to take on a lot both substantively and otherwise, I find myself on the phone with clients often and thinking like, they are just like, they’re venting to me, like, I am the most expensive therapists in the world right now. And, and but, but it happens often. And my husband often says, like, it’s because you give them like, the trust that they feel like they can talk to you about whatever is happening from, you know, like, they’re frustrated with the deal that, you know, they’re talking about, like, the emotion behind that, and just being like a kind, you know, ear to listen to, and like, I have some emotional intelligence that I feel like people appreciate. But I take on a lot, I am extremely good at organizing my time and spinning 1000s and 1000s of plates simultaneously. A lot of feedback that I get is that like, you know, how did you do it? All those fun things? And like, it’s less of like, how do I do all of the things but like, when do I do all of the things because there’s going to be all of the things to do. It’s just trying to make it work. And so I’m very regimented. I have a very, very prescriptive lifestyle, I wake up every morning at four, and I work out and I have my mornings. And then I, you know, take my daughter to school and like, time block my day. So I would say just like, the ability to just just do and handle a lot. Of course, it’s to my detriment often because I often don’t, you know, raise my hands and say, like, you know, we’re going down like, I can’t handle anymore. So working on that.

Suzi: Right, yeah, sometimes it’s just as important to be able to, to not take it on right, and to be okay with saying no to certain things. So I think it’s really fascinating. You told me that you are also you’re also teaching at Michigan, right? 

Danielle: Yes, I’ll be teaching a course next winter course. Registration just opened.

Suzi: I’m gonna go sign up right now. So this is this is really cool. And will this be your first experience teaching? 

Danielle: Yeah, so in law school, I was part of this, this clinic, it was a lab where we worked with Fortune 500 companies, and basically did the projects that their in house teams didn’t have time for and they didn’t want to pay outside counsel for it. And I loved it. It was unbelievable gave me so much experience, the professor was amazing. And they no longer offer the lab. And in the last few years, you know, I often get cold calls from law students or from summer associates. And first years of like, I want to do the type of work you’re doing. Where do I learn more. And law school is historically not super helpful for transactional students generally, in providing them practical, you know, experiences, but even when you do get those practical experiences, right, you do have like, you know, your entrepreneurship clinic, your drafting or your, you know, negotiation, there’s no one really talking about like, IP transactions, or technology transactions or commercial transactions as it relates to technology and a burgeoning market. A ton of big laws, firms have huge practice groups as it relates to it. And so I was talking to a professor and I was like, you know, I wished they had just a class about this. And he was like, Okay, well, why don’t you teach it? And I was like, hey, that’s really funny. Because I would guess, lecture like, you know, in certain classes at Michigan, as it related to my practice, and I loved it always. And he was like, no, really like, like, talk to the dean about it. And so I did, and they were like, yeah, what would they work best for you? And I was like, Are you sure? Like I am, I am not qualified at all. And they were like, no, we want somebody kind of in the trenches that you know, remembers what it’s like to be a law student and a first year, second year, but kind of knows how to manage up, manage down. And so you’re perfectly situated to do this. And so I have a lot of impostor syndrome as it relates to it. But we are managing it and coping and I’ll let you know how it goes. No, yeah, I want you to come back on in. 

Suzi: After you’ve started teaching, like let’s say, maybe in the spring, and then we can reconnect on it. I’d love to hear about your experience. But I think it’s really interesting that you, you know, so quickly say I’m not qualified. And I’m like you, you are so qualified, right? First thing I thought was, oh, no, she’s got impostor syndrome, right. Like, you just you don’t hear men saying that as much. Although men do have impostor syndrome. It’s just it’s so much more, I guess, pervasive amongst females to question like, Oh, should I really be here? Do I deserve this? Can I really give back the way that I want to in this position? And I have no doubt it’s going to be an amazing course.

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Suzi: You saw like a need, right? You saw that there was this missing piece? And you brought it up to someone? And they were so receptive. They’re like, yeah, come teach. 

Danielle: Yeah. 

Suzi: That’s yeah. 

Danielle: It’s so funny. So my husband always says that, it’s not who you know, but it’s who knows you. So like, when people know, your character, when they know your value, and they know your personality, and they know, you know, the type of person you are and what you’re interested in. It’s way more valuable than you asking somebody for anything. And so, I mean, this was like, one of those perfect kinds of opportunities or examples of that, which I found a situation that I just I said something very off the cuff. And he was like, No, we’re gonna make this happen. And, and I kind of secretly always dreamed of teaching at Michigan, anywhere like, it’s, it’s so humbling, like, you know, just being on campus and thinking like, Oh, my God, I can’t believe that I’m here, whenever I get emails, and they’re like, Professor basket, like Foods That 

Suzi: Could you foresee teaching, and Michigan or any university becoming a larger part of your kind of work portfolio?

Danielle: Yeah, I think that some one of the things that makes my heart super full, and I’m really passionate about is like, just sharing the experiences that I’ve had, because nobody really prepares you for life in big law, or in a big law firm. Generally, I mean, I felt super prepared to draft you know, the reps and warranties in an asset purchase agreement for, you know, a patent transaction or, you know, whatever, substantive, you know, task came my way. But like, how do you talk to clients? How do you manage your own work life balance, you know, air quotes it, how do you protect your time? How do you, you know, give feedback, how do you get feedback, and just some of these, like, very people oriented type of skills that you have to learn along the way. And I was super lucky to have great mentors and people who taught me a lot and protected me. And I don’t see that as much in my practice, or in the people that I am surrounded by and, and so in any way I can do that, for the people behind me, it’s totally, you know, a priority. But also, I see so many women of my year of yours above me leaving in droves. And, and going to either, you know, in house positions, which is totally fine. Going to private practice or contract positions, or just like leaving the practice altogether. And it’s so devastating to me at least because, like, I spent a lot of time and effort and money and like energy, getting my degree and I’m really, really proud of it. And I like what I do. Like I think it still feels like work. I don’t believe the you know, do what you love. You don’t work a day in your life. Like it’s work. It is hard, it is mentally exhausting. But do I leave feeling good about what I’m doing? Absolutely. And so when I see other women leaving, I think what tools do they not have? What values do they not have? Like, you know, those types of things. And so if I can empower, you know, 567 a dozen young women to stay and do what they wanted to do because they had those tools like excellent like dream come true. 

Suzi: What are your thoughts on setting up kind of like, more rigid mentor relationships right like within the woods then a law firm like having like a structured program?

Danielle: Yeah.

Suzi: You go, that’s pretty simple go right. Like, where does the young women go? We leave, right? I mean, we come out of law school, most of us are women. And then by the time partnership rolls around. Like 15% of us are, you know, are represented. So what about mentorship programs within within law practices.

Danielle: So, I’m actually not a fan of formal mentorship, because I don’t think it’s organic. I think mentorship is something that happens along the way, right? Like, my best mentors, are people that I worked for, you know, in passing, I was a research assistant for a professor and like, you know, just had these interactions with him that would let me feel like he knew me and that I could trust him. And then, you know, I would call him and ask him, you know, about latterly, or about situations I was dealing with at work and like, felt like I could get, you know, some kind of feedback from him and things like that. And so, there’s those situations, there’s people that you are in leadership positions with, so I’m part of an organization called The Association for Corporate growth, which is a middle market kind of networking group, or chapters all over the world. And like, it’s not just lawyers, and I do a ton of work with recruiters and private equity people and investment bankers and accountants and things like that, and like, talking to them and learning from them. And just like interacting with them, I think mentorship is something that’s like, it’s like professional friendship, almost like, it’s like, I see you as a person, we have a professional relationship. And like, I want to be a deeper relationship. When you have this formal relationship in like a law firm, and you’re assigned somebody and like, it feels very rigid, like, you feel like you have to be there. And, you know, it’s like an arranged marriage, if you will, like, you know, let let me date let me find it, let me find the right mentor, the right fit for me, you know, when I came back from maternity leave, I was assigned a mentor, that, you know, was also a young mom. And to a certain extent, it was nice, but I also was like, craving, like, the partner that was like, you know, 20, like her kids were 20 years old, and she had done this and she could say, Look, your kids are gonna turn out fine. If you miss the last time one night, you know, or screw work, go to delivery, do what you need to do, like, this is not important, you will never get this back. And, and it took me, you know, sitting down with with, with the older partner, and just being really vulnerable and being like, I am struggling to figure out how to make this work. Like I had a, you know, a young baby or toddler at home and just being like, really vulnerable in that moment. And something that I frankly, would never have done with a male partner or colleague, and like teary eyed and she would looked at me and just like, was like, no, like, this is fine. And she, she had a full conversation with me. And that was something that wasn’t formal. She she owed me no time. And then I felt really comfortable to like, call her and thank her and talk to her. And, and that was like an organic experience that I never think I would have had, if it was a like matchmaker situation.

Suzi: Arranged marriage, right? That’s a good analogy and kind of goes back to your relationships and dating analogies that you like using, but I’m so okay. Like, let’s say, I’m a young associate, and kind of quiet, I’m kind of introverted. I’ve been thrown into this legal world, my family, I don’t come from a family full of lawyers. So I’m not super connected. So if I wanted to find a mentor, and initiate a conversation, would you do you have any guidance on that in terms of like, how to do it, who to look for and how to actually approach someone and how to maintain an amazing relationship? I just threw in like four questions there.

Danielle: So I will say to like the mentorship relationship is on the mentee. It’s not on a mentor. I have had mentor relationships where like, are people that like want to be my mentor and I’m like, I don’t want you as a mentor like I choose. I choose you as my mentor like you don’t choose me. So there is some onus on the mentee to like be proactive. And I think that that’s the right approach. And my advice, generally, in anything that that a young lawyer is doing is to look for the people and and the type of work that you think you want to do and 510 1520 years whatever it is, and say Do I like their life, you know of what I know do I Are they you know mid divorce never see their kids are they unhappy you know stay at offers all the time, or are there pictures of their kids and they’re leaving at four to go to dance or whatever the situation is like, look at their lifestyle, look at how happy they are. Look at their success and work. And if that’s something that you see in yourself is something of interest, then I would be really, really honest. And I would say, Hi, my name is Daniel, I’m a new associate at XYZ firm, and then doesn’t have to be at your firm. That’s where their secret is, like, I think some of the best mentors are not at your firm half the time. That’s a great idea. Yeah. And they don’t even have to be lawyers, sometimes there are other successful business people. But I would just say, you know, I’m starting out my career, I love how you’ve been able to navigate, whatever you’re interested in, you know, insert that I would love to take you to coffee, or do a zoom, or whatever it is, and just pick your brain on, you know, tips and tricks and like things that I might be able to learn along the way from you. And then you do that. And you are kind and generous. And you know, you spend the time. But it’s really relationship building. Like it’s if you if you hit it off, and you have a great conversation with somebody, like shoot them an email, say thank you. And then like six months later, or three months later, say like, I really enjoyed our conversation and thinking about what we talked about, and I’m dealing with this, do you mind getting lunch, and then you build those relationships over time. And I think a lot of the time young attorneys or just people in general want, you know, relationships to happen like that. But it’s, it takes time and energy and sewing. And so I think just treating it like that is a really great approach.

Suzi: So let me ask you, what is the biggest mistake that you think young lawyers are making right now?

Danielle: Not protecting their time. I just spoke at Michigan law in their entrepreneurship class, and was talking about how I’m very, very strategic about and intentional about protecting certain times. So every, every morning, I take my daughter to school. And that’s my time, and I am not available ever for that time. That’s my time for for for me and Leila. And then you know, I do bedtime, every single night. That’s my thing. And I do not take halls during that time there, you know. Wilson Sonsini is not going to burn down if I’m not available at 7pm. That means I have to be available afterwards. And sometimes it before and sometimes early in the morning. But I was talking about that. And a young woman raised her hand and was like, That’s really awesome. And like I like you know, the thought of that. But like, it’s a first year like, I don’t have that goodwill. So like, how do I protect my time? And and I think that’s true. I mean, I’ve earned a lot of my stripes. I think that the excellent, you know, a very astute observation. But at the same time, I said to her, You are the only one looking out for you. So you protect your time, it doesn’t mean I don’t not be available for like hours on end. But like, if yoga is really important to you, and like you want to make a 630 class that three days a week, block it off on your calendar, if you get an invite, or someone asks you to do something, I’m not available during that time, I can get to it at XYZ, and be intentional because no one is looking out for you. People think and I thought that there was a stop, you know, like a red button that just like an escalator, right that like stopped everything when it felt like too much. And there’s not that like big plasma machine, and you are a commodity? And if you say yes, they will keep giving it to you. So you are the only one to press that red button and say like No, no more, and to protect your time, protect your weekends, teach people how to treat you. You know, I think a lot of young attorneys think it’s like, cool to be super busy and build the most and it’s like super sexy to send emails at like 2am. Like, that’s not cool. Like I’m sleeping at 2am. Like, that is not that is not a lifestyle for success, like and most big law firm. It’s lockstep. So if I build 1950 Or if I build, you know, 2100 like, you don’t you don’t get a special prize for being more tired. And sometimes you do have to it sometimes you do have to do bat, right. Sometimes there’s big deals and some, you know, big cases where you’re required to work into the night and like that’s a exception and not the rule. So I would say being intentional from the get go about setting boundaries and keeping them and maintaining them. And that doesn’t mean you can’t have one or two times that you know you do work a weekend or you do work, you know, late into the night or you miss a yoga class or you know Whatever it is, but if you’ve got that baseline, you’re gonna be fine. And that’s gonna set you up for a career where you don’t burn out at your five, or where you’re not like looking to leave because you’re unhappy and setting you up for like, a long career.

Suzi: Yeah, and I think it’s so important that you’re protecting your own mental health. Right? And not letting people breach those boundaries that you set up. 

Danielle: Yeah, it’s, it’s because people, when people prioritize, like, I, I don’t live to work, I work to live, right. And so when people prioritize their job over their family, or their health or anything else, like, you’re gonna lose those other things. And I see too many colleagues who have mental health issues who aren’t eating who have lost relationships with friends and family, or you know, spouses or children and like, no job in the world is worth that. 

Suzi: No, no. So you had said, I’d asked you, these is a good tie in what’s your must share strategy or piece of advice, and I want to read what you said. And I think this, this ties in perfectly with what you just said. Danielle said time is of the essence, invest time in what brings you joy and pure love. Everything else is a waste of time. Maybe this is partly because of the pandemic, I’m not really sure. But people do seem to be reflecting, right? And they’re kind of analyzing Where have I been spending my time, right? Because we get so caught up kind of in the will of, of doing life. And we don’t take that time to really just sit down and reflect where are we spending our time? Like what is really important to us? What were our priorities? So and I just think that your piece of advice here is is like a perfect quote, right? Time is of the essence invest time in what brings you joy and pure love. Everything else is a waste of time. Danielle bass, I love that. So where can people find you, Danielle? Yeah. 

Danielle: So I’m at Wilson Sonsini. You can always reach out to me through there or LinkedIn. Happy to always connect with other attorneys. Whether or not you’re in my practice area or not. And yeah.

Suzi: awesome. Well, Danielle, thank you so much for hanging out with me today. This has been a lot of fun. And I hope that we can connect again in a few months because I would love to hear about how teaching is going. Professor bass. 

Danielle: Yes, my pleasure.

Suzi: Thank you so much for hanging out with us today on legally bliss conversations. If you love this episode, and you want to hang out with other inspiring and light gold female attorneys, be sure to join the legally bliss community at legally blessed.com And be sure to follow me on Instagram at Susie Hixon. See you next time.

danielle bass

Helping Attorneys Find Joy, Balance, and Harmony with Laura Kelley

Season 1, Episode 011

In this episode of Legally Blissed Conversations, we are joined by Laura Kelley, a practicing immigration attorney and managing partner at Duque, Kelley and Associates PLLC. Laura is a Professional Certified Coach and Mindfulness Instructor whose aim is to help attorneys find joy, balance and harmony in their practices and lives. She frequently presents at various bar associations around the country in order to promote attorney wellbeing.

Shownotes

Website: https://www.thejoyfulattorney.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thejoyfulattorney/

 Instagram: @thejoyfulattorney

Transcript

DISCLAIMER: The following is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases, it is incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.

Suzi: Today, I have Laura F. Kelly, Esquire. She is a professional certified coach and mindfulness instructor whose aim is to help attorneys find joy, balance and harmony in their practices and lives. She’s also a practicing immigration attorney with LFK immigration. She is the chair of the AI la South Florida and AI la Central Florida Health and Wellness Committee and a member of the AI la national law, your well being committee in Miami Dade Wellness Committee. She also frequently presents at various bar associations around the country in order to promote attorney well being. She’s also a Girl Scout leader. I’d love to talk about that. That’s amazing. And you can find more information about Laura and her work at the joyful attorney.com. And I will have that down in the show notes. So thank you so much for being here today. Laura, welcome. So tell me all the things why law, why law? Why did you go to law school?

Laura: Well, thank you for having me. It’s an honor. I’m really excited to be here. Why law school? Oh my gosh. I always wanted to be a lawyer. I was one of those people who as a kid, just I don’t know, I think my mom implanted that in my brain actually. Because we didn’t, I didn’t No lawyer, any lawyers. I was the first person in my family to go to college, and certainly the first person to go to law school. But my mom had always told me you would argue with the devil if he came and told you that the sky was green? And I was like, Yeah, I would because the sky is blue. And she’s like, Yeah, but everybody else will be running away. And I was like, Oh, that’s not an option. Yeah, so I yeah, I always knew I want to be a lawyer. There’s really nothing else I wanted to be until I became a lawyer. And then I was like, Oh, wait.

Suzi: When When was the point when you’re like, holy shit, I am a lawyer. And I need I need some some assistance in the like mental health well being space or like, when did you first start recognizing that as an issue with like, not only maybe yourself but other women, female attorneys that you were working with?

Laura: Well, I have to say I’ve always struggled with mental health issues. I want to say that, you know, I think it’s really important to be open about that. Because there is so much stigma. And it’s, you know, I think that there’s a lot of shame involved in any kind of, of illness, but especially like mental health. So I struggled in law schools, really the first time I was like, Hey, this is something’s not working here. That was first year. And truth be told, I, you know, after after taking the bar exam, and I so I graduated in 2006, took the bar exam in 2006 in California, and I decided to run away. I took the bar exam, and then I moved to Spain.

Suzi: I love this story. This is fascinating.

Laura: So I moved to Spain and lived in Spain for about seven years. And I was I was a lawyer in California, so I passed the bar. But I was living in Spain, and I ended up getting a Master of Law in EU law in Spain, and ended up doing antitrust law. I was gonna say in Spanish antitrust law in for the European Union and Spain. But I wasn’t an attorney in Spain. I was an attorney in California. So I you know, my my, you know, career trajectory was very limited in Spain. I speak Spanish sections, right, those pesky jurisdiction, like navigate. Well, and also the language like I was not I’m not a native Spanish speaker, I learned most of my Spanish in Spain. But writing legal writing is something that is, you know, very different in Spanish. So unlike English where we have like the plain English movement, Spanish is as complicated as it possibly can be in legal writing. Yeah.

Suzi: Okay. Okay. So that’s like another level, right, like, level of complexity to kind of an already complex situation.

Laura: Exactly. And. And it’s funny because I had gone to law school initially wanting to be a public defender. So I wanted to do criminal law. And then I found myself in Spain, doing essentially corporate law, like, what am I doing there? So that was the first real point in my career where I was like, what’s what, what is going on here. And by that time, I had gotten married, and had decided that I wanted to have a child, and really needed to figure out where the next stage of my life was going career, career wise, because I didn’t see a long term future in Spain, as much as I did end up loving the work that we were doing. It wasn’t what I went to law school to do. And I didn’t feel like I was honoring my purpose. So what I ended up doing is after our after getting married, and 2012, I did my first immigration case for my husband. So he’s, he’s a British citizen. And I started that, that process with him. And about 30 days after we started that application process, I found out that I was pregnant. So then I ended up giving birth of my child in Spain. And literally 12 weeks later, my husband had his visa, and we moved to the United States.

Suzi: And here you are, y’all go to Florida. Did you move directly to Florida?

Laura: We did we Well, we did move directly to Florida, he had a job offer here. So it made sense for us to come here, even though we had no family here, just a few friends from the industry that he was in. So it was crazy. But you know, and I was, as you know, the jurisdiction issue. There, you know, exactly. So it’s like, I’m a California licensed attorney, with experience in EU antitrust law. You know, there’s not a lot of demand for an EU antitrust lawyer in the United States.

Suzi: That family law, those family law skills, right, like, having to pick up rule against perpetuity, he’s again and having, like, horrible flashbacks.

Laura: Well, the beauty of being an immigration lawyer is that I didn’t have to take the bargain again. So I was like, This is what I’m gonna do. Hold up. Yeah.

Suzi: I’ve learned something new. I mean, I learned new things all day. So you didn’t have are all you all the time? What you didn’t have to take the Florida bar to get to to be able to do immigration law to practice immigration. 

Laura: Before the agencies, you do not need to be licensed in the state that your practice doing it. Now some states? Sorry, yeah. Oh, say that’s exactly your mind’s blown.

Suzi: Yeah. That’s amazing.

Laura: Yeah. So there’s some states that regulate the, you know, regulated differently. I think there’s one state in which they want you to be barred if you’re practicing any kind of law in their state. But when I initially started, I put a caveat at the end of my signature line, basically saying, I’m only I only practice immigration and nationality law, and then I’m barred in the state of California.

Suzi: That’s federal based. Right. So that makes that makes a lot of sense. Okay, so that’s good. So you were able to do that and you got your you kind of, I guess, got like, you’re really good first foray in that by having your husband as your first client, I presume, did not sue you for malpractice. So yeah. Still there, right.

Laura: He’s a citizen. Now. He’s gone. 

Suzi: All the way. 

Laura: All the way up? Yeah.

Suzi: Okay, cool. Cool. So you should like give you some kind of bonus. Right? So that’s amazing. Okay, good. Good. So you you’re back in Florida, you’re back in America after being in Spain. And you’re setting up your practice your immigration practice. So that’s not that’s not really criminal law. So are what how are things going at that stage for you?

Laura: Well, I would say it’s interesting because there is an intersection of of immigration law that it with with criminal law, and it’s we call it CR immigration. So it is it actually is quite, there is an element of criminal law there and there’s a you know, social justice is involved in it. So I felt an immediate sense of purpose. And I when I, I initially, you know, I want to clarify something that they immigration law is more than just Practicing before the agencies we also practice before the federal courts. So both the district courts and the appellate courts, so to get in many jurisdictions and Florida as one of them, the Southern District of Florida, you do have to be barred in the state of Florida in order to practice before that court. But at that time, I wasn’t doing that that work. And yeah, I felt at that time, I felt this love for immigration, even though I can completely admit that I became an immigration lawyer out of convenience. 

Suzi: It was I speak Spanish, and I didn’t have to take another bar exam thing wrong with that, trust me.

Laura: But I found a purpose, I found a purpose there. I really did. And I started doing a lot of detained work. So that’s very, you know, criminal based, most of it is not all of it. There are some, you know, quite a few actually non criminal, foreign nationals that are detained. But I really loved the speed of that work, the immediate kind of gratification of that work. And immigration law, unlike other areas of the law goes fast, at least in the detain setting. So you see, you know, you it works through much more quickly than you would see it in in other areas where you’re waiting, you know, years for a court date.

Suzi: Right, right. So you get that satisfaction, right? A lot faster in this area of the law.

Laura: Yeah. And at the time, when I started practicing was during the Obama administration. And towards the end of the Obama administration, we really had a lot more tools that we could use to help people in difficult situations without a change in the law. So it was it was it was an interesting time. Okay, yeah. 

Suzi: So at what point did you at what point? Were you interested in coaching, and specifically, like, ultimately getting a certification with Life Coach School, and all of all of that good stuff that goes along with that?

Laura: Okay, so that’s, yeah, this is so much, there’s so much here. I, so I was practicing, initially with a firm, and I wasn’t wasn’t happy with the way that firm was run in terms of like, ethics. And, and it really scared me. So I, you know, after consulting the California Bar ethics line, I decided, you know, what, I’m gonna go on my own and run things like, you know, I felt that they should be run. Right. And so I was solo for several years. And then in 2016, I was renting space with another immigration attorney, and we decided to merge. I’m sorry, 2016. No. 2019 excuse. So, either it’s already, yes. Everything before 2020. It runs together. I don’t even know.

Suzi: The before times, right. Before times, yeah.

Laura: So speaking about, like we were, you know, we had a kind of a double whammy. We were dealing with the Trump administration. And the pandemic, shortly after we merged our firms together. And it was it was rough. I would say the lat the from 2017 to 2019, those those two years were extremely difficult for all immigration attorneys. And I struggled, I struggled with mental health. I actually got sober in September of 2019, because I felt that I was using alcohol really as a as a, you know, self medication, basically, to deal with the stress. And I had been at that point, seeking coaching. And so I joined the Life Coach School has a program called scholars. And it’s like self coaching, where we would get little booklets and go on coaching calls and actually get coaching once a week. And it really, truly transformed my life. 

Suzi: I sorry,no, you’re doing No, I’m curious. Did you use their programs? Like stop over drinking specifically to help you because I’m stop over eating stuff over drink? Because I’ve kind of gone through some of those programs.

Laura: Okay. Um, no, I didn’t use stop over drinking, by like the program itself. By the time that I actually stopped drinking and to kind of recognize that as a problem. I had already gone through the other programs. And so for me, it’s like a seamless transition. And I’m fortunate in that I the drinking was kind of a symptom, not the illness. And I found I didn’t need to do a program on the drinking. It was. I’m so grateful that it was effortless to stop drinking. In 2018, but, but there were other things that I had to work through and continue to work through, you know, that the self coaching helped. And so that pro these, you know, the programs that Brooke Castillo created of, you know, understanding that it’s our thoughts, not our circumstances that create our feelings, which drive our actions to produce our results was like,

Suzi: blank, mind blowing, blowing, game changing?

Laura: For sure, for sure. Yeah.

Suzi: So how are you integrating that work initially into like your everyday life and or practice?

Laura: Well, basically, what I was doing was, you know, doing a lot of self work, doing doing what she calls, thought downloads, so you know, basically getting my thoughts onto paper, working models, figuring out what my thoughts were really gaining awareness. And at this time, I’m also into meditation. So I’m going to let a meditative work, and a lot of, of the coaching work. And those two things are really very integrated. Buddhist psychology. And mindfulness meditation, also has a space as in cognitive behavioral therapy, what coaching is really based on is this idea of your thoughts, getting awareness of your thoughts, will allow you to achieve whatever you want in your life, getting awareness and being able to make those changes to your thought, to your mindset is really where everything flows from. So I was integrated in every everything I did at that point. But I wasn’t necessarily interested in coaching, it just was what something I use in my personal life to have a have a better life. And then the pandemic hit. You know, and I was like, Oh, I just, I realized that. I, you know, I wanted to, I wanted to, to help people the same way that I had been helped. And so I decided in March of 2020, to get certified. And I had to wait until September. And by the time September 2020, rolled around, you know, we had been almost, you know, I guess six months into the pandemic, and we are facing a very contentious election. And then for immigration attorneys, you know, that election, really, you know, had weighed heavily on us, because it wasn’t just politics. For us, it was the the future of our profession, and our clients. And that, that I’ve, I felt in a lot of other colleagues felt that that hung in the balance. And, and a lot of us were really suffering with that, in addition to having all these tools that we had previously had, stripped away and in practice just became extremely difficult in 2020. And I initially started coaching, because I wanted to do wellness coaching, particularly around weight loss and exercise. Because, you know, that’s, that’s where that’s the programs that I had worked with Brooke and I had a lot of success, I had lost 50 pounds, and kept it off. And, yeah, and discovered that I was an athlete at, you know, 38 athletes and all of us there, there really is, I did not know that. But it turns out. And so that’s why I was like, oh, you know, this can really change people’s lives to recognize, you know, how to get control of our eating habits, because the motions and eating and exercise are all so wound together. And so that’s what I had initially wanted to coach on. And I had started coaching on that topic, previously. But But once we were getting into the last months of 2020, particularly September, October, I recognized that it wasn’t just me who was suffering, my colleagues were suffering. And I decided that this is a really great way that I can help my colleagues is by by using my coach certification in a way that would benefit them. So I started in December by creating a six week burnout course, for attorneys to get the tools to manage their their thoughts, first and foremost, their time, their boundaries, self maintenance practices, so that they could be more resilient in the face of these challenges that we were having in that in that in that year. That’s what started at all.

Suzi: Yeah, so let’s talk about burnout. out? That’s yeah. So I mean, we could go on a lot of directions. Because I mean, I think setting boundaries can be just just that one change, right. And learning how to actually set boundaries is a form of self care. I mean, that’s that’s a wonderful topic. I think also, though, that burnout is something that so many lawyers are facing, right? Like not, not just immigration attorneys, like from every, from every, like walk of life in terms of lawyers, male and female. So how are you specifically helping attorneys address burnout?

Laura: Well, so there’s I mean, burnout is a multifaceted issue. So there’s not one particular thing that causes burnout. One thing that I you know, there are different ways of practicing. And there are different, you know, they’re big law attorneys, small law attorneys, government attorneys, you know, agency attorneys, whatever, there’s, like, the whole gamut of different kinds of attorneys. But I think you’re right does no matter what area we’re in, we sit tend to be experiencing a great deal of confusion, overwhelm, you know, burnout, however, you want to describe that that sense of, of, you know, Dread walking through the door.

Suzi: The Sunday scaries. And you heard people will talk about the Sunday scary,

Laura: I have not, but I like that I like about it, right? 

Suzi: That anxiety that you’re getting before, you can’t even like really put your finger. I mean, maybe there is like a big, you know, meeting that you have that week, but it’s just that overwhelming sense of anxiety that you have before you start your week.

Laura: Yeah, the pressure, you know, the like, oh, that notification that pops up, you know, there’s so much there’s so much there. And so, you know, one of the things that that I really focus on is initially is time management, because I think so many attorneys, I mean, none of us really were taught how to manage our time, nobody is taught how to manage our time.

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Laura: We we do our best and we think we’re doing the right thing, you know, we create lists, we, you know, use post its we use all these things that actually end up making our time management, more complicated, and, and actually produce more overwhelm. So the one of the things I like to do is tease apart different, I would say, maladaptive strategies to managing time, and really say like, this is, this is the way that I’ve transformed my time management. And, you know, I give tips to other attorneys to use the same skills now. You know, people have to use what works for them, and it’s not a one size fits all package. But I do think that we have, you know, these strategies that just don’t work for us. You know, I have a lot of a lot of clients who use their email inboxes as to do lists. That’s not the ideal way to do your tasks is not ideal. 

Suzi: Never one the email is not that inbox is not your to do list.

Laura: Yeah. 100% I mean, it’s it mean the the the number one problem with an email inbox is that every time you go back to it is you’re going to have more emails. And I actually think one of the number one causes of burnout and overwhelm for attorneys is actually decision fatigue. So I mean, and we sometimes it’s so pervasive that we don’t even realize that we have decision fatigue, but essentially decision fatigue is is is being exhausted because of all of the different decisions you have to make and decisions are just thoughts. But you know, that’s not a net neutral situation. Thinking and overthinking and planning and deciding it actually burns a lot of our energy through our brain, it saps our energy. That’s why we can sit at the computer all day long, not exercising anything else but our fingers, and be completely and utterly destroyed. It’s because our brain has been working all frickin day.

Suzi: I mean, our brain part like, does it no burn calories? It does. As I say, I feel like I’ve heard that I can be completely making that up. But yeah, I feel like I’ve heard that your burn your brain like literally burns calories.

Laura: So, yeah, because it needs it. So our brains apparently, you they’re like, three to four pounds, depending on the person, I guess, depending on the size of our heads, size of our brains. But they are our brains actually burned like 25 are utilized. Let me say that 25% of our energy consumption in our bodies. 

Suzi: Yeah, that’s crazy. I remember the first time that I really had that awareness of decision fatigue. And I think it I think it had to do with like, What are we having for dinner? And I was like, I was at like, flip the desk point, right? Where I was, like, you know, I don’t give a like, I can’t make the decision on what to eat for dinner, like someone just make this decision for me. Right. And I remember thinking, like, I’m just exhausted from having to make decisions. And I’m thinking that, like, because of the pandemic. You know, we have a career where it is so decision making heavy like we’re caught, we are constantly trying to navigate work, but then you saw the pandemic on top of it. I mean, your might you’re having to solve like, well, do I go into the grocery store? Do I wear a mask? Like, shit? Should I be washing my hands? Like after I touch it? You know what I mean? Like, you’re always if you have children, like double the decision making tag that’s required for all of that. So that’s, that’s really fascinating. So how do you work with clients on that? Is it is it primarily helping them bring awareness to, to that, specifically, for sure, awareness is key. 

Laura: But also, it’s how can we look at our time management, look at our organization, and really figure out how we can minimize the number of decisions we make in a day. So for example, the whole thing about the email as an as an as a to do list is really key to kind of understanding this. So if you’re using your email as an inbox, I mean, excuse me, your email inbox as a to do list, every time you go back to your, your inbox, you have to now decide what to do next. Right. So every single time, so you have to reprioritize you have to make these quick decisions. But not only that, you’ve been you’ve been added new tasks, because it’s like, Okay, now, am I going to respond to these emails, before I do the next tax I have to do, when am I going to respond to these emails, there’s just, you know, obviously, the brain is an amazing information processing, you know, tool, but at the same time, you know, it becomes it becomes so intense and so intensive, that it consumes a lot of our energy. So when you can utilize time management tools that reduce that those decisions and kind of create blocks of time where you can work on one particular thing really, truly focus and, and trust in yourself that everything can be handled, when it’s appropriate, takes a lot of that, that that decision making out of the process, you can plan things ahead of time developing that trust, so that you can kind of use that energy you would spend, like figuring things out, actually working on the task. And what ends up happening is the task that you’re working on, ends up being done in a better, more productive and quicker way. You know, when we truly focus, we expend that energy where we need it. A lot of benefit comes from that not only in mental health, but just in our quality of work. Sure, sure. 

Suzi: And our focus team and our self esteem. Yeah. So this is this is really good. So let me ask what is your favorite time management tip or tool that that you could share?

Laura: Okay, my favorite tip and the tip that I live by is block scheduling. And so that’s one of the things that I teach in my course and in my webinars and if somebody works with me one on one is block scheduling for attorneys. And so block scheduling is essentially getting rid of your to do list are before before you get rid of it, you need to put the tasks on your calendar and then you get

Suzi: freaked out about getting rid of to do lists, right like all these I may personalities are like no.

Laura: But the to do list have a same issue as the email as an email inbox as a to do list. So even if you have a written to do list look, I was a big into lists, I like to say, I’m so into lists that I would add tasks that I already completed that were off the list, I would add them to the list just to cross them off, you know, it’s very satisfying. off that list. Yes. But it’s, but again, every time you go to a list, especially if it’s a handwritten list, right, you have to decide, okay, what next? And how long is this going to take me? And do I need to like move this around, or, you know, what, what, what is the most important thing on this list, it’s just, there’s a lot of decisions to be made. So in my program, I teach to make those decisions ahead of time before the work week starts, figure out everything that needs to be done. So created nice to do list, you get to do the to do list, but then you take each task, and you put it on your calendar in a block, so you know exactly how much time you have to complete each task. And then once once everything’s off the list and onto the calendar, you can cross it off, or you can, you know, tear it up. And and from there, you know exactly what you need to do when you need to do it. And you don’t have to make any more decisions about it. Now, obviously, things are going to come up, you know, you we have to have a certain level of flexibility in our lives. But this takes so much of that decision making energy out of out of out of your out of your day.

Suzi: Yeah. And it’s almost like increasing automation, right, like trying to make things more automatic. So what do you say to the person who says no, no, no, no, they say something along the lines of Well, I still can just commit to what’s on my calendar. Right? Like, or I still? Like I’m still progress. nating or I’m pushing it forward on my calendar, I’m still not really take ticking it off my to do list. Do you have any guidance for someone who may? Or who may have that challenge?

Laura: Yeah, absolutely. Because I mean, those are all limiting beliefs. And like when someone says I can’t, my first thing is like, why would you choose to think that? Right? First of all, yeah, you know, all the things that you’ve accomplished in your life, and you’re telling me you can’t do something with your calendar like, right, you know, that’s a limiting belief. But, you know, I do work a lot with procrastination, I do work a lot with, you know, what that is often is people putting themselves last. Yeah, yeah, you know, we lose a lot of integrity with ourselves. In our lives, we put ourselves last, especially women, we tend to put everything you know, and people pleasing, there’s so many different things and reasons why we find it difficult to accomplish the things that we have set forth, I would say number one is really taking a look at priorities. That is key, are you spending your time in line with what you say is your priority, because if you say your priority is spending, you know, time with your family really being present with your family, but you’re on your phone, scrolling, you know, it’s not, there’s no judgment there, like we all do it, but it’s just about getting real about how you are spending your time. And then recognizing that the solution here is not to cram more things into your schedule. So I’m not saying you know, let’s figure out a way to cram more stuff in there, we have to be clear, when someone’s already having problems getting things done, we have to find efficiencies, we have to find solutions. But sometimes those solutions are going to be things like delegating, sometimes those solutions are going to be you know, simplifying. So, you know, maybe limiting the amount of time we’re spending on social media, maybe spinning, you know, having more boundaries around how clients can contact us, or when clients can contact us. Even, yeah, even boundaries with staff, you know, so there’s a lot of different ways that we can manage that. And, and that’s why as a one on one coach, I work closely with clients to deal with, you know, what are the circumstances? And also what are the thoughts because, again, everything that is a stumbling block, usually starts with that thought process like I can’t, I don’t want to do and I shouldn’t be doing this or that. 

Suzi: That’s always an interesting work. Interesting one to work with, right?

Laura: Absolutely shutting ourselves all over the place. And the self judgment that comes along with the should because with the should is there’s a standard that you are not living up to and because of that you suck, and so we beat ourselves up. And that is not motivating. That’s not motivating. We think that we have to be hard on ourselves in order to succeed but the truth is, the harder we are on ourselves, the less motivated we are to truly change To truly like love ourselves, and I say in my coaching, all roads lead to self worth all roads, for all of us, almost everything comes down to that, when we truly embody self worthiness for ourselves and love ourselves, then it becomes much more effortless to take care of ourselves in these way, in this way, you know, developing those boundaries, you know, it doesn’t mean not being kind, it doesn’t mean not being generous, it means just having that that protection, not only for other people, but for ourselves. Yes.

Suzi: So what do you teach your clients about? Scheduling personal time ahead of everything else on calendars?

Laura: What I teach is you put your personal time first. That’s what, that’s what I was taught by Brooke. And that’s what I carry forward in my coaching, you have to put yourself first, you cannot unknow it. I know it’s trite or cliche to say, you know, you can’t pour from an empty cup, and you got to put your mask on first. But like, there was a reason why that’s a cliche, it’s fundamentally through. You serve others, when you serve yourself. So if you are not taking care of you, you really can’t take care of other people. So if you want to be a generous giving person, I think most of us do want that, you have to take care of yourself. And so that means, you know, when someone says, I don’t have time to workout, like, do you really want this for yourself? Like, do you want it, if you want it, then you have to make time for it. And you have to make it a priority. And if you don’t, it’s okay. But don’t hold yourself up to a standard again, the shooting, I should be doing this, and I’m not doing it. You either want to or you don’t. And if you want to, then you do it. And you figure out a way to make it work. And, and it works by, you know, figuring out your time. The other thing I would like to say is sleep.

Suzi: A lovely sleep. So let’s talk about sleep.

Laura: Sleep is so fundamental. And if you want to, you know, the one tip besides Time management is sleep management. And I would say that the to go hand in hand. Because what I suggest my clients do is really figure out how much sleep they need. And not not how much time they survive on. But how much time Yeah, exactly how much time really is going to allow you to be your best, not only the best attorney, but the best version of yourself the best parent, the best mom, whatever you you know, you need that sleep, we’ve there’s so much research on the importance of sleep, in terms of our stress management, our cortisol levels, just everything our heart health. So really, making that time working backwards is fundamental, figuring out how much sleep you need for when you need to wake up, working backwards and finding a time a bedtime. Just like you know, just like we were kids finding that bedtime, and then a wind down period, I recommend a 30 minute wind down period prior to sleep where you get rid of all distractions, all devices, you can read, you can meditate you can just, you know, chill, have a conversation. But you really want to get the devices off, turn the devices off. 

Suzi: Yes, I’ve noticed that like if I in like addicted to reading something on my device, before I go to bed, it’s that much harder for me to fall asleep that night. Like because I’m just more like on it right as opposed to like putting it away for a while.

Laura: Absolutely. Because you get a dopamine hit, you can get a dopamine hit or an a drill and a hit. If you’re scrolling. You know, it seems like I’m relaxing. I’m resting by just aimlessly looking at Facebook. But we know that the reason why you know social media is so insidious. It’s so addictive. And trust me I’m not no judgement I’m there is that we we get the dopamine hit, you know, Oh, I gotta like or oh, this is really great. I love this. I’m you know, I’m liking other things I’m receiving the likes, or we are like this makes me angry. And then we get that adrenaline spike and now our cortisol levels are elevated. And yeah, of course now we’re now we’re at now we are you know, you know, energized and it’s not conducive to us sleeping either one of those things. So it is very beneficial to say you know, I know that iPhones I think androids habit as well your you can set your bedtime and set your set your wakeup time and it automatically, you know, goes into a wind down period where your notifications are turned off and it’s a great, great way to like say okay, this is a time I put my phone away and I have some time to myself to relax, rest and get ready for sleep so that I can have more time more energy to do the things I need to do. On the next day,

Suzi: I love that you work with clients on sleep and sleep hygiene, all that it’s so important. I feel like it’s definitely people mention it. But it’s still overlooked the importance of sleep, right? And people think, well, I’ll just plow through this or like, I’ll have my Starbucks in the morning, and we’ll be all good. But at the end of the day, like lack of sleep. Like for me, it really impacts me after a few days.

Laura: 100%. And the thing is, that’s what we do, right? We, so we are exhausted. So we sleep in. So maybe we don’t, we’re not working out in the mornings when we could be. Because we’re so tired. And you know, it’s a good excuse, like, I’m tired, I’m just gonna sleep in great, but now you’re not taking care of something else that can actually help you sleep. Exercise helps you sleep. You know, but then we get hopped up on coffee. And again, no judgment, I love coffee. But we you know, we’re drinking so much coffee, that we’re, you know, again, coffee is great. But it also contributes to not being able to sleep well at night. So the more coffee we we consume, the more difficulties we have with sleep. But also, it’s it’s an upper and coffee can cause anxiety. And so part of the stress and anxiety that we experience is also exacerbated by the coffee we’re drinking. So we have like some triple Whammies. Here we have. Yeah, we have the not sleeping enough, so we’re already irritable and having elevated cortisol levels, then we’re drinking coffee to compensate. And that is causing us, you know, more anxiety, more cortisol, more adrenaline, and then we’re not exercising to kind of burn off some of that energy. And so we’re just like a bundle of nerves and stress. And then we asked ourselves, why are things not working?

Suzi: Right? Okay. So listen here, I do the exercise. I go to bed early, but you are not taking away my coffee.

Laura: You’re, I hear you. No, no, no, no, no, no,

Suzi: all of these things. I do try to cut it off at a certain point, right. During the day. I’m like, you know, not afternoon, it’s not always possible. But um, I mean, I know it’s possible, right? That was just a limiting belief. But yeah, it’s, I think it’s interesting that you that you can work with your clients kind of on on these three different things, right. And it’s like, going in there and kind of helping them break those bad habits, helping them get into like a state where they’re going to bed at a decent time, because they’ve not been jacked up on coffee all day, right? And they’ve had that really good workout. And then the next morning, they feel good enough to wake up at a decent time, right? So they can have that. That intense workout, or whatever, yeah, it’s just breaking that cycle for people. And maybe especially lawyers can be really challenging. 100% I think we’re gonna play right, this

Laura: is how you help people. Exactly. It’s accountability. It’s been there, it’s like showing the way it’s, you know, we, because we’re so used to not having integrity with ourselves. I mean, that’s really what what coaching comes back down to is developing that integrity with ourselves, that developing that self worth saying, I deserve this, you know, I deserve to have that good life. And, and I have to treat myself in a way that ensures that I’m going to have that life that I want. So it’s it’s really working with with those, those mindset issues. And accountability. It’s I mean, that’s it. It’s like, you know, having a partner, you know, as humans, it’s really hard to do things alone. It is hard. And, and having an accountability partner, somebody who, you know, really cares about you and cares about your progress, that’s able to kind of have that perspective. I mean, that’s what a coach is, if you even think about like an athletic coach, you know, it’s an accountability partner like that. Someone who sees a big picture that can call you on your bullshit in a

Suzi: way very loving way correct. But

Laura: we need that I mean, I I’m like I don’t mince words. I’m a very direct person. But listen, you know, that’s bullshit. And you know, that’s shit. And it’s okay no judgement, I do the same thing but let’s find a way that to that serves us and serves our purpose you know, so we have purpose driven conscious lives rather than unconscious you know lives with you know, just basically you know, Groundhog Day reliving the same day over and over and over again and constantly

Suzi: being reactive right being Oh, yeah, if to the inbox

Laura: or at the effect of you know, reactive and at the effect of rather than empowered in control, and calm.

Suzi: Okay, so I love all this. So, I want to be really respectful of your time. Where Okay, first halt. Do I can I ask you one more question? Do you have a couple of minutes? Oh, I have. Yeah. Okay, we’re okay. I need to know our I would like to know what is next for you. And specifically, like with your coaching and working with lawyers, and of course, I would love for people to know where else they can find.

Laura: I constantly try to keep things updated on my website. This is what we always like to have a new free course coming up so people can get the value. I have a podcast that is coming out weekly. And yeah, just trying to let people know that they can have that life filled with balance, harmony and joy. It really is possible even for lawyers.

Suzi: It is possible. It is so possible. So I want to thank you for hanging out with me today, Laura. It’s been so much fun.

Laura: Awesome. Thank you. And you too. I’m so so so excited for you and this podcasts. It’s really wonderful. Thank you so much.

Suzi: Thank you so much for hanging out with us today on legally bliss conversation. If you love this episode, and you want to hang out with other inspiring and light gold female attorneys. Be sure to join the legally bliss community at legally blessed.com And be sure to follow me on Instagram at Suzan Hixon. See you next time.

laura kelley

The Journey from Corporate Litigator to Award-Winning Author with Amy Impellizzeri

Season 1, Episode 010

In this episode of Legally Blissed Conversations, we are joined by Amy Impellizzeri, a reformed corporate litigator, former start-up executive, and award-winning author of fiction and non-fiction. Amy walks us through her journey from a burned-out attorney who took a sabbatical, then extended that sabbatical and started writing, and then became an award-winning author.

She is a frequently invited speaker in writing and transitioning lawyer networks. Her essays and articles have appeared in The Huffington Post, The Glass Hammer, Divine Caroline, ABA’s Law Practice today, and more. She is a Tall Poppy Writer and the 2016 President of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association.

Shownotes

Website: https://www.amyimpellizzeri.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/shopfunder/

Twitter: @AmyImpellizzeri

Instagram:@amyimpellizzeri

Transcript

DISCLAIMER: The following is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases, it is incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.

Suzi: If you’re listening to legally bliss conversation, this podcast reclaims and rewrites the stories female attorneys have been told about how we should practice law for our businesses, treat our clients treat ourselves and craft our identities as female attorneys. We’ll hear inspiring stories from current and former female attorneys, the ones who question the stories they’ve been told the ones who aren’t afraid to live boldly and step into their own power. We’ll learn from women who defined success on their terms. Through light hearted and curious conversation will impact the challenges these inspiring female attorneys have already navigated so join me on this journey. You’ll be empowered and ready to rewrite a completely new story about what is possible for you. I would love to welcome Amy and Pillsbury. She is a reformed corporate litigator, a two year DC federal court clerk, a former startups exec and award winning author. After spending a decade at one of the top law firms in the country, Amy left to advocate for working women, eventually landing at a VC backed startup company hybrid her, named by Forbes women as a top website for women while writing her first novel, lemongrass hope, which was named a 2014 indiefab Book of the Year bronze winner in romance. I love that okay. Just law your romance. Her sophomore novel secrets is the world of worry dolls, was an editor’s pick in Ford reviews magazine. Her newest novel, I know how this ends has been called perfect for fans of This Is Us by book tribe. Amy’s first nonfiction book law you’re interrupted was published by the American Bar Association in May 2015, and has been featured in the atlantic.com above the law, ABC 27 and more. Amy is a top copywriter past president of the women’s fiction writers Association, and a contributor to she is fierce in women writers, women’s books, Amy’s essays and articles have appeared in the Huffington Post Writer’s Digest the glass hammer, divine Caroline de bas law practice today in skirt magazine among more. So Whoa, okay. I have to ask you. Well, first of all, welcome.

Amy: Thank you. Thank you. That was very beautiful. Listening to that laid out like that. So I very much appreciate that.

Suzi: That’s amazing. I’m so impressed. And when I heard you listen to you on podcast, a podcast in the past? It was a wake up call podcast. Yeah. Oh, yeah. It was so good. I was like, Oh, my gosh, like, I love story. And I’m very curious. Like, I would love to know, where do you get your inspiration?

Amy: So yeah, it’s it’s funny, because I, you know, I was a corporate litigator for 13 years. But I always say I was always a writer. So I was as a little girl, I was, I always was, I had a lot of diaries, I had journals lined up on my bookshelf, I was always narrating the room when I’d walk in, like I was a writer. But I also was always going to be a lawyer, I knew that about myself. And so when I started college, I was writing, I would still be filling those journals, I was taking creative writing classes. And I was also on my path to become a lawyer. And I, I actually got some advice for good or for bad. I’m not really sure how I feel about it now. But I had a friend who was already in law school, he was a couple of years older than me, and he had already gone to law school, and he came back to visit us in college. And he said, to me, Amy, you can’t do both. Like you have to pick you have to decide whether you’re a creative writer, or or a lawyer. And he said, You know, when you write, you’re not gonna be able to write in your own when you’re, if you’re a lawyer, you’re not gonna able to write in your own voice, you’re gonna be writing in your clients voices. And so you really have to pick one. And so I, you know, boxed up all my creative writing, I put everything in a box, literally, and put it away for a long time. And I went to law school, and then I and I worked in the law for many years. And I took that path of not writing in my own voice. And so all these things were happening to me over the years. I don’t know how much you know about my story, but I was. I lived in New York during 911 and then also the was a presidential plane crash on my corner two months after 911 that I survived. And so I’m these things were happening. And also, my law career was, I was working in a very big law firm, there was a lot of drama in my law career, both in the courtroom and outside of it. And I was, all of these things were happening. And I had no voice to sort of work through them express them. And certainly the plane crash was a big, pivotal moment for me. I really, I continued, I stayed, I stayed in the law. And I stayed in New York for many years after that I didn’t leave the law for many years after that, but as soon as I left the law, I left for what was supposed to be a one year sabbatical. Now over a decade ago, and when I left, I really didn’t have a clear plan, except that I was going to do a lot of things that I wanted to do. And I was going to really spend the year like exploring and I was going to write. And as soon as I stepped away from the law for like, a minute, all of the things that had been happening to me, since I last box boxed up, my writing sort of started to manifest themselves on the page, really. And so that is my long way of saying My inspiration comes from, from living. And from a long from a long time of ignoring my voice, and, and, and reclaiming it. And it’s taken me really, truly like a decade to reclaim it.

Suzi: Wow. So let’s say that you were in the position of the guy that you were talking to, yeah, that hey, you know, let’s say listen, young aspiring lawyer came up to you and said, Hey, like, I love writing. But I want to be a lawyer. What advice would you give her right now? You know, now?

Amy: Yeah. So I would say what I do say option, which is do it on the side. So if you really want to go to law school, and you really want to be a lawyer, do it, do it. Do it for the right reasons. I’m always very cautious about people who say they want to go to law school, if they don’t have a reason why. But do it go to law school, but don’t give up the writing. Don’t give up the art don’t give up whatever it is. That’s your creative outlet. Don’t give it up? For two reasons. One, it doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t make sense to give up a whole part of yourself. But to the law is actually people I was under this misconception for a long time I thought the law, I tell the story. I worked at Skadden in New York. And at the time, I worked at scat and for 10 years at the time, my tenure at Skadden. We were in the Conde Nast building, which is the same building that houses like Vogue offices and all the, you know, Vogue magazine conglomerate. And so those were on one side of the office at the building, and the law firm was on the other side of the building, and you would literally every morning walk in and I would do this exercise, I would stand back and watch the tide of people. And the lawyers would you could clearly visibly see them walking on one side. And the beautiful people were walking on the other side. And I and I would tell you, I would stand there every single morning and think to myself, I want to be with the beautiful people like I want to be there. They were creative, they were fun. They were enlightened. They were working hard, right? Like I’m not under any illusion of like what they were doing. But I had this idea that you had to be one of the other. And so after I left the law, I figured out that actually the law does attract so many creative people, and then doesn’t necessarily give them an outlet for their creativity. So I often tell people by having a side artistic venture, even if it doesn’t lead to a, you know, a paid gig or a self subsidizing gig, to have that creative outlet on the side will help fuel the legal career if indeed that is where you’re meant to be. So I you know, for me personally, I’m a big person for not looking back. It’s definitely I don’t have any regrets about boxing up the writing. I’m so because I found it again. So I’m so grateful that I found it again. I would have lots of regrets if I had never found it again. But But I would I do encourage people to not give it up entirely. It’s not necessary.

Suzi: So why do you think that attorney gave you that advice?

Amy: I mean, I think he was trying to be helpful. He was in law school. He wasn’t practicing yet. He was in the throes of it. He was feeling very overwhelmed. And he was giving me very specific advice. And in the context of I was I was taking this American Lit class Ask and I got to see on my Lolita paper, I did not understand Lolita in the same way, my American law professor understood Lolita, and I still don’t understand the leader in a lot of ways most people do. And, and I was like saying to him, oh my gosh, you know, I gotta see, I’m never gonna get into law school I can’t write. And he said to me, whoa, whoa, whoa, you have to give up this idea that you can do both. And so I extrapolated it into this, like, you know, big monster missive. But the truth was, he thought he was giving me good advice. He was, you know, saying like, You got to pick one. He felt very singularly focused. He was in law school. And he was not the right person. That’s the problem. He wasn’t the right person for me to be asking advice of at that time. And so internalizing the advice he gave me was potentially dangerous. But thank goodness, it all worked out.

Suzi: The advice is to be very careful about where you get your advice. Yes. Be careful. Right, like, consider your sources if someone is like struggling in the throes of their first year of law school?

Amy: Yeah, no. That’s not the right. That’s not the right source of advice.

Suzi: Yeah, you do that, right. Like you you’re in college, and you look at someone who’s in law school, and you’re like, oh, no, they’re shit, right? They know what’s going on.

Amy: And even somebody who’s new to the practice, who’s still finding their way, um, you know, is is not necessarily going to have all the, all the answers, and no one person has all the answers, right? So it’s about taking collective experience. And it’s about following your own gut too. And it’s about following your own your own path. Every we all have, I used to say I have a very untraditional, you know, unconventional path to publishing. But then I learned that everybody has their own paths of publishing, it’s all very unique. And so then I really under start to understand in a very concrete way that we all have our own universal path. Right. And you have to be more, I have to be respectful of that.

Suzi: Right? Yeah, I think that’s a, that’s a good thing to think about. Whenever your opinions differ from other people’s especially like when it comes to politics, like, you never really know what someone else’s past experience has, you know, have been the teachers that they’ve had in their life, or anything like that. So I think it’s definitely something to take into consideration. Yes,

Suzi: I’ve learned that too, with writing because my, I find that people receive, you know, books, I mean, I mostly write fiction, right. And so people receive the fiction with their own viewpoints, right. So they bring their own viewpoints, and they bring their own perspectives. And then people will have varying, you know, perspectives, or varying takes on what I’ve written on what this, you know, they’ll they’ll, they’ll sort of like project a backstory into a character I never even thought of. And it’s been a really like, an interesting lesson and empathy for me to understand how everyone brings their own perspective, to story and to storytelling. And it’s, and I tell the story, but then people interpret it and receive it in as many individual ways as there are readers. And I have found that actually, an incredibly rewarding and also challenging part of the publishing process. 

Suzi: Yeah. And that’s kind of analogous to what you were talking about a minute ago, whenever you wrote the paper on the Lolita and you got to see on it. Yeah, right. Like it kind of comes full circle. But you see that you’re like, well, maybe I should have gotten an A and that professor. I want to get that Professor a see his interpretation. 

Amy: Right. So yeah, he had a totally different experience to that point than I had. And so we brought we both brought competing interests and perspectives to that point. He was one of the one in charge of the grades.

Suzi: Have you sent him any of your published books?

Amy: That’s very funny. I have not I actually do have. I did I have kept in touch with other professors over the years, but he’s, like, get every one of your books tie? 

Suzi: pretty bow.

Amy: Yeah. Yeah. That’s interesting. Yeah. I actually never thought of doing that until just now. 

Suzi: So thanks to you for thinking about you. I was, you know, talking about you the other day and our differences on Lolita. And I just wanted to, you know, certainly the books I’ve published, just kind of curious, like, have have you published, like, seeing your name out there or anything, but I’m just curious, you know, but I was thinking about you. So.

Amy: Yeah, it’s pretty I think about him a lot. He thinks about me, not at all, and I’m sure he’d be very interested to know how much I think about him. Yeah.

Suzi: Yeah, I have. I look back at undergrad and I have a few professors that really resonated with me and probably not a great way. Right? And I think about them a lot. It’s really funny because I feel like that that like one person in particular, I look at him and I think he had such an impact on my life trajectory. And he probably has never played this even though I exist. Like, I was one of the hundreds of students I’m sure he’s ever had, you know, if not 1000s. And so, but it’s interesting how that how that happens. But so i Okay, so you’re at Staten. So were you there all of your, your 10 years.

Amy: So no. So yes, I was there for 10 years, but I actually, so after my clerkship after my federal clerkship in DC, I then actually went to a boutique firm in New Jersey, I It’s funny, I was not going to practice in New York, I was going to stay in Philadelphia. And I’m from Pennsylvania, I was originally going to practice in Philadelphia. So I took the Pennsylvania and New Jersey bars because I was going to be in around Philadelphia. And then, as luck would have it, I ended up moving to New York. There was man involved, of course.

Suzi: I mean, it happens, the best of us.

Amy: Yeah, it does. So um, so I moved to New York and I, but I wasn’t born in New York. So I had, but I was born in New Jersey. So I was commuting out to New Jersey, I got this job with a boutique law firm out there. And it was a fabulous position. I was there for three years. And it was a litigation firm. I was in court all the time. They only hired law clerks. But it was a firm in New Jersey. And I was living in New York, and I was commuting out of New York. And so I started to get courted by Scadden. And I decided to jump ship. And I remember when I went to the hiring partners, office and my old firm, and I said, I was taking this job and scan and he said, You are going to hate it there. And I was like, Why? Why would I hated it scan. And he was like, You’re a litigator, and you are gonna hate it there. And it was funny. I mean, there were a lot of red flags, because here I was, I was interviewing scattered. But I was trying a case of my old firm. And I’d have to schedule my interviews around like depositions and trial days. And I remember the attorneys, this can be like, your, your what your main core, your main deposition, but aren’t you like a second year associate? Like I don’t understand. And I didn’t think to myself, like, wow, that’s kind of a red flag, you know. And so, I left, right. And all of a sudden, here, I was scanning, you know, the expectation was that I was going to be like, locked in a room doing document, review and document review. 

Suzi: So they had to

Amy: I was, I mean, I was too, I was too young to know what I didn’t know. So I when I took the job, I said, Oh, yeah, I would love to be part of the I was joining the mass torts litigation department. And I said, I would love it. And just FYI, one thing, I’ll do anything, but one thing I won’t do is duck. And in hindsight, was so arrogant, but um, and they were like, oh, so they didn’t assign me to a document review. They assigned me with some associates and a partner who were doing a lot of briefing, and that’s what I did. But you know, my days of being in court every week were over. And, yeah, and so I did eventually work my way up to doing expert work. And I did a lot of expert depositions. And I was part of a trial team. But you know, I wasn’t in court the way I was in the past. And, and it was intellectually challenging work. And it was interesting work. And listen, nobody was more surprised than me that I was there for 10 years. But it was, you know, it was everything. The storybooks tell you it is I mean, it was there was a lot of drama, and I was sleeping on my floor. And I always had a change of clothes in my office, and I slept into my desk, because my, my office was, the lights were motion censored and I would sleep under my desk so that I can turn the lights on in the middle of night, and I could get a couple hours of sleep. I mean, it was, it was all the things that you think it is. And the people were, they were they were all the characters and all the stereotypes of all the people and and, you know, then I started having kids, which was like, unheard of.

Suzi: Yeah, how does that go over? Like, I just want all normal human experience. I want to have a baby, right? And you’re thinking,

Amy: I hid it for a while. Like I did that? Well, I heard that I was pregnant for a while. And and then I had someone confront me. I had a partner confront me, he said, I’ve noticed you are not sure I’ve noticed you’re not using artificial sweetener in your coffee anymore. I don’t know if you’re pregnant. Yeah, I mean, this wasn’t like 1902 by the way.

Suzi: You can see my face if you’re only listening to the podcast. I can just I don’t know what to say like pick my chin up off the floor.

Amy: I made that then I made the very arguably question suitable decision to continue working after I had kids and I kept saying, I’ll figure this out. I’ll figure this out. I still wanted to work. I took long I banked all my leave, and I took long like six to seven months maternity leaves. I had three kids while I was working at SCAD. And that was more that is more outrageous than any verdict. Words fun, I promise you. And so each time I had a baby, I kept it. I kept it a secret, really. And I just kind of banked My, my, my sabbatical, my nuts, my SPAC My Leave time. And then I would tell them basically on the eve of leaving, and there was no maternity, baby tomorrow. No, there was like, there was literally no maternity pay, there was no written. Like, there was no I went, I did go to a partner on the side and negotiated a part time schedule, which was basically me being in the office for days working from home three days, it was very much like keep this on the download. Don’t let anyone know you’re doing this, I would have you know, I’d be in reviews with the partner. And he’d say, You’re doing a great job. Nobody would ever know you have kids. And you’re doing a great job. Yeah, I mean, I would have no pictures of my kids in my office. You know, the dads would be talking about going to baseball practice, whatever. I mean, if I had a kid with an earache, I would tell them that I was bleeding that i That’s why I was home. I mean, I would never, I would never say I was home with a sick head. And I tried to I tried to not be home with a sick kid. But, you know, occasionally I had to, and yeah, I mean, it was really barbaric. And, and I and I ended up leaving my my three kids were five, three, and one when I finally threw in the towel for my sabbatical again. I said, I’m gonna Yeah, they were little. And I said, I’m gonna, I’m going to take a one year sabbatical, I’m going to take a deep breath. This is things have gotten a little out of control. And my husband at the time was in. He was in his residency. Yeah, he was I had put him through medical school. And he was he was not a partner in the process, right. So he had his own thing going on. And, and he was in his residency at the time that I left, he was actually just starting his fellowship at the time I left and it just was like a good segue for, for me taking a year off to regroup. And the idea was, I’m just gonna regroup, we’ll see. We’ll see where we are at the end of this year. How can I make it work? Am I do I miss it? Can I make it work in other way? Is there some is there something else I can do with my law degree, which was something I really had never thought about? I mean, as you know, it when I was in college, I gave up everything for law school, right? That’s the only thing I was ever going to do was practice law. So but as I got away from it, I It wasn’t until I left that I started to understand what happened was, I was doing some writing, I was doing some work for the startup company that I had discovered. And like kind of I’ve met, the woman who was president of the startup company had been a former magazine editor in New York. And I was just doing like a little writing for her on the side, in addition to a lot of other projects that I was doing. And then when I started to understand and they didn’t need a lawyer, they had a venture capital firm behind them and their own legal counsel. But the creative team could not talk to the legal team. And they kept saying to me, Oh, we every time we asked the lawyers for something, they say no, can you like help us get to ask them for something and say, Yes, yeah. And so I became the translator between the liaison, right? Yeah. I was like, Oh, well, you have to because you’re asking for this. You can’t say it like this. You got to say it like this. And then you know, like, oh, I said, you then you get the same result, different words. It’s all good. And so that’s how there’s actually like other things I could do besides practicing law that are so fun. And so I did, I ended up working for that company. I ended up at the end of the year, taking a job with that company and and extending my sabbatical to a three year leave of absence.

Suzi: Let’s take a quick pause for a message from my sponsor, prominent practice.

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Amy: I was working on a book on the side, which I didn’t leave the law to write a book, but I was had this idea for a woman at a crossroads in her life questioning, like every decision she’d ever made, not surprisingly, that that would be there.

Suzi: But I told him, based upon.

Amy Impellizzeri:Right, I was telling it, it was it was, you know, not autobiographical, I was telling him the context of this like love story. And I started to think, Wait, you know, I’ll just work on this on the side, you know, as sort of a creative outlet. And eventually, after a couple of years, I decided to pursue publication, but and then I left the startup company, but it was just, you know, it was one of those very interesting, I was open to things that, and then I was, you know, I was open to things as they presented themselves I, I was able to take advantage of them. But I didn’t even really understand what was possible, until I actually left law, which is what a message I give to a lot of would be transitioning lawyers who were like, I want to leave, I want to do something else. But I have no idea what and what on earth could I do when I leave? And I always try to explain to people, first of all, think about it, like, explore it on the side. That’s a big dream of mine. But also until you leave, you don’t actually even understand the world, outside of these walls. 

Suzi: And so you know how amazing it is outside of the law?

Amy: I don’t know any, I don’t know any. I always say like there’s no transitioning lawyers always say their only regret is that they didn’t do it sooner. Unless there’s one demographic that that will express some regret. And it’s always people, usually women who have left to become full time caregivers who haven’t left to be caregivers alongside somebody else who have left to be full time caregivers. And I my hypothesis that as seems to hold up is because a lot of those women have been pushed out too soon. And if you’re pushed out too soon, you will have regrets. Because you should you should leave on your own timeline.

Suzi: Yeah, as you said, your decision, like, is it your decision at that point, right. It’s like, and I didn’t leave to be a full time caregiver.

Amy: But had I but had I left to be a full time caregiver. I think I was on my timeline. Like I think I did leave on my own. I left at the time that I was ready. But if you if you don’t, if you don’t leave on your own timeline, then you then you have regrets. And so I often tell people like don’t leave, don’t run out the door. You know, just like at its worst, like, Wait, take a beat. Yeah. And and cultivate your exit strategy, because running out the door too soon will lead to regrets. 

Suzi: Right. So sure. I like that cultivating an exit strategy. So when you took your sabbatical, you weren’t necessarily cultivating an extra, an exit strategy.

Amy: Now. Now I was winging it, for sure. Yeah. So I was just of the mindset that I would spend one year doing things that I wanted to do, and I wouldn’t do anything I didn’t want to do. I was like, I only have a year. I don’t know what’s gonna happen at the end of this year. And I gotta make a count, right? So I didn’t read unfinished books that I didn’t love. I didn’t finish meals I didn’t love. Like, I was just like, we’re gonna only do things we love, right? Love that. I did, right. And I did a lot of advocacy work. And I worked for non I volunteered for a nonprofit, and I did some pro bono work. And I was doing writing for this startup company. And I was doing all of those things. And then and for some, like freelance writing, like nonfiction writing, and then, at the end of the year, I sort of was like, let’s see what rises to the top. And what rose to the top was the work that I was doing with the startup company, because it had legs. And it was interesting to me. And it was allowed me to continue writing, which I found, which, as I was like, reclaiming that part of me. I was discovering that that was definitely something I didn’t want to give up again.

Suzi: Hmm. So how did you tell the firm?

Amy: Well, I first I told them that I just wanted to turn it into a three year sabbatical. And, um, you know, and then I just sort of like, sent him an email saying no.

Suzi: Big deal. Yeah.

Amy: But at that point, it was just like, it was a long goodbye. It was a long goodbye. I mean, when I when I left for the sabbatical. I remember somebody’s like, I remember saying my goodbyes. And I remember a couple people saying to me, well, you’ll be back in a year. And I remember thinking to myself, I don’t know if I will, but you know, I sort of like left it open. And so yeah, so it was a long goodbye. And then by the time I said goodbye, I was ready.

Suzi: Okay, so this is this is, I love this. I love the idea of of taking a sabbatical. And I always tease that I was at a bigger firm for it wasn’t technically big law firm. But I was at a bigger firm for years. And I wanted to take a sabbatical, right, because I needed clarity. I felt so I felt like I was drowning, right, like, and this was, like, probably 2000, around 2009 2000 times after that I kept mine. Yeah, yeah. And, you know, it was after the recession, and part of me was kind of like, I guess, kind of during the recession, and part of me was like, can’t take a sabbatical. Like, I’m lucky to have a job right now. Like, I’m seeing people get their walking paper, you know, like, I’m seeing this happen every day, like, I need to stay here. So at that point, I couldn’t even like, really like for me to entertain it, it just seemed comical. But you managed to make this happen. And I want to know, like, how can other women make it happen for them? Right? Because I want them to be able to if they think that having a taking a year sabbatical would be a really good idea in terms of like getting clarity and where they are, they should have an opportunity, and they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for it. To scan it already has something kind of in place for that, or how did that. 

Amy: So I took so they don’t except that they they had a temporary window which I’d climbed through. So what happened was during the recession, instead of other firms were laying off and scan decided as a PR move, instead of laying anyone off, they would offer this sabbatical, and you could apply for it. And you were guaranteed your job back at the end of the year. And but you had to apply for it. So I when I saw this come across my inbox, I thought this was you know, divine intervention. And I immediately applied for it. And I was immediately denied because I was told, Well, that isn’t for you. This is for the m&a attorneys who have no work, right? So all the m&a attorneys, I was a litigator litigate, litigation is impervious to economic decline, right. So we were still busy. But all the m&a attorneys were sitting around with empty inboxes. And they were nervous about their jobs. And so when the sabbatical was announced, and when it was announced that they weren’t going to do layoffs, they were gonna do the spackle. None of the m&a lawyers applied for it, because they were like, oh, okay, we’re gonna sit here and do nothing for a year. And we’ll be fine. And, and all the litigators applied for it. And so they were like, no, no, no, no, not you guys.

Amy: We met everyone else. But you know, you can’t take it. And so I did push back. And I did tell the head of my department, I said, you know, it was supposed to be open to everybody. And I really want to take this year, and so only a year. And what they ended up doing was because so many litigators applied for it, and no m&a attorneys, they ended up restructuring. And they ended up moving the m&a lawyers into litigation and giving the the litigators who are applying for the sabbatical. Yeah. And they there was this hope that people would self select out in the thick everything would read, you know, fix itself so that they wouldn’t have to actually lay off and, and I think that worked. I think it worked. So, so yes, and no, so I took advantage of something that was available to me. But I do recommend people try to negotiate, even if not a year, at least six months sabbatical. And mine was partially subsidized, but obviously it saved the firm some costs. So you have that, you know, that leverage, and that negotiation point, some time off, save the firm’s of money. And also the it was called sidebar. Plus, that’s what they call this sabbatical program. And it was a big PR thing. And so I often tell people to like, if you can get some press and get some media exposure for your firm, allowing you to explore this, you know, something else, it benefits the firm too. So those are the things that I sort of often tell people to try to use to negotiate because, yes, you can explore other things and your weekends off or your big kids fancy vacation time that you never use and never take. But the most productive time off is is trying to do like a six month one year sabbatical and and listen, in the context of a sabbatical there’s relatively low risk as long as you negotiated you know, an end date and that you’ll come back at the end of that year. Or that you have the ability to come back at the end of the year. Right it becomes a lower risk alternative for you and and I do think it gives you the freedom Um, I do think it gives you the true freedom to truly explore so yeah.

Suzi: And it’s not during maternity leave. 

Amy: Yeah, yeah, no right. Right. I was not on maternity leave. 

Suzi: Yeah. This is not attorney leave.

Amy Impellizzeri: There was no, there was no, there was no exploring exploring side gigs when I was on maternity leave Exactly. You know, show your point that, oh, it’s at a time of economic challenge. is the worst time to ask for a sabbatical? Maybe not right. Maybe it’s time to tell the firm Hey, you know, maybe you’re grappling with hiring decisions, maybe you’re grappling with laying off decisions, take a beat allows the, you know, allow, offer, you know, three to five sabbatical positions in the department or whatever, and allow for people to possibly self select out and possibly recharge, and that’s only, you know, saving the her money and then hopefully, more productive down the road.

Suzi: Yes, if you’re totally exhausted, if you’re burnt out, if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Or if you feel like you just need to, like get some clarity in what you want to do going forward. I think it’s so challenging to do that when you’re kind of like in that daily grind of being a lawyer and wearing that hat. I mean, because your needs, your personal needs are not necessarily first, you know, especially when you have children and you’re working in big law.

Amy: I do think that we have this, this vision of ourselves as being so utterly replaceable, indispensable when we work in law firms, and it’s the culture. It’s not unfounded. We are treated like that. In many ways. The reality is you’re not as dispensable as you think you are. Right. It costs them more to hire somebody new and onboard somebody new than it does to just bring you back after a short sabbatical.

Suzi: So remind them of that, even though they will have forgotten it. But I think this is a really good point, Amy, that you as a lawyer in your firm, you have more leverage and bargaining power than you realize. 

Amy: Yeah, I definitely did not feel that way. I felt I felt freakin lucky. Like I was like, Well, I felt like a cog right there. Back to kind of what you’re you were saying about being indispensable. I felt like a cog, but then I felt like a pretty lucky cog. Keeping the wheels going. Right. And so it’s about, well, Louisville wasn’t really impacted by the recession as heavily and as quickly, right, as New York, right. And so all the firms were kind of, yeah, yeah, we were like, the old trickle down effect. Right. But, but yeah, I mean, a lot of those big firms are scrambling our call that now. And I think now what, you know, we’re not seeing well, this is actually interesting. I’m not familiar with whether or not these firms are doing sabbaticals right now, because I know that, you know, the economy is a little. I don’t want to say it’s bad. It’s kind of kind of weird right now. Right? Like, maybe that’s the word. Yeah, it’s a little uncertain. So, you know, if you’re thinking about wanting to take a sabbatical, it does sound like, you know, it could be a good time to broach the subject with your firm. Yeah. And to really understand that you do have bargain, you have more bargaining power down a fan.

Suzi: Yes. 

Amy: You know, it’s not, it’s not the best idea to run out the run out the door with no plan B, at your worst possible moment, right? For a lot of reasons for for your own personal morale and emotional reasons. For your networking, your future networking reasons, right? You want to leave those all those those bridges intact, and those doors open. And so the sabbatical can be even a good way to sort of like do a softer goodbye, right? Leave for a little bit, come back, make sure that the relationship you know, see what’s out there, sort of start to put together strategy come back and then leave on your own terms you know, a little bit down the road with those relationships intact and and your emotional energy restored a little bit yeah, because you’re gonna need it even when you’re on a sabbatical right? 

Suzi: For sure. 

Amy: Yeah. 

Suzi: Then you’re it’s good to like leave and be in a positive mindset and making decisions from a positive mindset right rather than kind of being at your lowest point upset freaking out overwhelmed and then making decisions those are not good places to be making decisions from right.

Amy: Right. You don’t want to make decisions from a point of desperation or fear right so it’s another reason why you also want to cultivate your the financial you want to work On the identity issues and the choice issues, and you also want to cultivate the financial peace, right? So you want to save some money, you want to redefine your relationship with money, I always say to people like, there’s, you can actually live on less money than you think you can, because you are. There’s a whole category of expenses that falls away, when you leave a job, you hate this whole self soothing category, that just falls away right and have to go out to dinner every night. And it’s gonna expensive vacations, I have to buy myself expensive handbags or clothes and spa days, like there’s just a whole category of expenses that fell away that I had no idea was even spending money on. So there’s that. But you do, you have to redefine your relationship with money. Because you know, the billable hour method makes you think you’re worth a certain amount of money. And so you think if I leave the law, I have to make that much money or I have wasted something or I’m not worth it. So you have to work on all of those pieces. And then you have to have a little bit of money set aside so that you don’t have to operate from fear and desperation.

Suzi: I think it’s really interesting that you mentioned the self soothing, I have that I have two notes here specifically from another the other podcasts that you’re on, and the one is sabbatical, because it was like, I really want to talk to you about sabbatical. Because I think that that is something that’s so interesting, and I just admire you so much for doing for kind of taking that leap, right. But kind of a softly like you were Yeah, I admire you for that I want to other people to kind of consider that as an option, right? Like, if anything to plant a seed. And then the other note I have here is self soothing, because I kind of forget about that. But I do remember, you know, even at the when I was you know, at a bigger firm, kind of doing the same thing, right? It’s like, oh, God, like, you know, I need to call this therapist.

Amy: Well, not about giving up your therapist when you leave a lot. But I always say, your therapist, and don’t give up your childcare actually, when you leave a lot like that was expenses are important, but But it’s true, what you say, like you just, there’s this, there’s this notion of like, well, I am making this money, I’m going to spend it on myself, I’m gonna spend it on things that you you don’t need to do that when you’re not in a place that you hate or a place that where you’re miserable. You don’t necessarily need to, you won’t need as much. You won’t need as much, right, you won’t need as much therapy and you won’t need any retail therapy. Maybe not any. But you know, it’s so funny, because I did not realize I was in a pretty deep self soothing space. 

Suzi: Really, until I heard you talking about that. And those watch. Like, I think that I was probably doing a lot of that. And I think that I was probably spending a lot of money unnecessarily. You know, and I don’t know if it’s like a type of like, validation is like self doubt, like, I am so unhappy in this career, you know, or like, kind of my day to day that but I can go do this thing, like look like I can go do and I’m in control in this area, because I can remotely get a flight to New York tomorrow, or like, you know, that kind of stuff. So, yeah, absolutely. 

Amy: It is about regaining control. Absolutely. Because we feel so helpless. And we feel so when we’re in a we feel like we’re just heading down a path that is being decided for us, instead of us being in the driver’s seat. Yeah, we just looked for other means of control. I mean, that’s how, you know, eating disorders and substance abuse and other you know, really traumatic things started happening in in the law and other areas where people are feeling those those same emotions.

Suzi: Yeah, and where else do we see it more than any play? I mean, big. I see it so much. Yeah. So I’m curious what I want to be mindful of your time. This has been so this has been amazing. I’ve loved getting into your brain. What? What’s next for you? Next projects are already working. Are you are you writing today? Yeah, so So I know a Pennsylvania day. 

Amy: You know, actually snow days are my favorite days to write. So two big things are happening this year, which feel a little like full circle moments for me. One is that my second nonfiction book is going to be released I’m working with a co author on a book called How to leave the law and Liz Brown who is a Harvard law graduate but Bentley She now teaches business law at Bentley undergrad. She wrote a book called Life After law around the same around the time that lawyer interrupted but right before lawyer interrupted came out because she actually wrote the foreword for life for lawyer interrupted and for Last time, there weren’t a lot of people in this space talking about like successful transitions. And so we were always kind of running into each other and, and as the years have gone by, we’ve talked a lot about writing follow ups to our respective books. And then we decided to collaborate together. So we’re, we’re writing a book called How to leave the Lord’s almost, we’re heading into our editor next month, and it’s coming out. Hopefully, like later this year, we just have just had our cover actually, it’s going to be revealed soon. So I’m excited about that. Yeah. And that feels good. But the other really big full circle moment for me is that my next novel is coming out. It’s the first in a series and it’s my first true legal drama, and I never wrote legal drama before I wrote. I have one book that was sort of marketed as a legal thriller, but it has a courtroom scene in the beginning, it really is a psychological suspense novel. And so this is my true first legal drama. It’s definitely a courtroom. Drama at the at the intersection of its I, I call it the intersection of courtroom drama and psychological suspense. So it’s still suspense, which is a favorite genre for me, but, um, you know, it takes it’s definitely a courtroom book. And it’s about a former lawyer who goes back to the law, for one case, only to defend the woman accused of murdering the lawyer’s husband. And so yeah, and so there’s reasons that she takes on this defense and, and she has secrets of her own, and it’s called In her defense. And it’s the first of our legal series called The river’s edge law Club series. The idea is that it’s a fictional town. It’s, it’s, it’s a town that is supposed to be a commuter town to Manhattan. So it’s close enough to Manhattan to have all of that fun to it. But it’s a small, it’s a town that’s impersonating a small town, basically, it has a main street and has all the trappings and like visual markers of a small town, but it’s not really because it’s a commuter town to Manhattan, right. So it’s small enough that everybody should know each other’s secrets, but they really don’t. But at the center of this town is a law club. And it’s called the river’s edge law club. And it’s like a country club. Except it’s not it’s a country club for lawyers, right. And so like, other towns have, you know, they’re known for their biotech industry, or they’re known for their, their, you know, retail flagship, but this town is known for its lawyers, and it’s got this. Yeah, it’s got this law club. And that’s where all the backdoor deals happen. And all the you know, corruption gets swept under the carpet and the judges have lunch, Martini lunches there, and the women aren’t necessarily always made to feel welcome. And so the series will be each student series will feature a different unlikely heroine sort of exposing corruption and backdoor politics in this town. But it will kind of a back and forth from it’s like, kind of like a, like I said, it’s a fictional town, but it’s sort of almost meant to be like a Hudson Valley, New York town. And so it moves back and forth between River’s Edge and Manhattan. And I’m really excited about it. So in her defense is coming out this May. And you know, I used to when I would go to book clubs, or when I would go to book parties, people would say to me, why don’t you write legal fiction? You were a lawyer for so long. And I used to always say, Well, I was a corporate litigator, and like, not the sexy kind of law, right. So but as time has gone by, and I started to think more about my time in the law, and how like, the themes that I worked on, and how, and how those years sort of impacted me, it has found its way into my writing. So yeah, so on the same year, that my book, How to leave laws being published, I’m also publishing my first legal drama, which is going to be kind of, it’ll be interesting. It’ll be interesting to see if we are long. Yeah, I’m excited. So so it’s a bit in her defense is available for pre order right now. It will be out in paperback, audio and, and ebook, May 3, so yeah.

Suzi: Okay, amazing. So let me ask you this, where can people find you in addition to being on Amazon, if you just go to Amazon search for Amy and Pillsbury? You can find her you can follow her author. There’s like a little follow next to her next year name. So where else can people find you?

Amy: My website, if you go to Amy and Pallas airy.com You will, and you can sign up for my newsletter and then you’ll get alerts for when my books are coming out when the pub date hasn’t been announced yet for how to leave the law. But as I said, In her defense, the pub date is May 3, but there are also going to be advanced copies of both books available and if you sign up for the newsletter, then you’ll find out how to sign up for chances to get advanced copies of those books. 

Suzi: So that’s amazing and can’t wait to see like the TV drama that is made on in her defense like I can I can see it now. Okay, so who? Like in your book? Okay, who would play your main character?

Amy: Oh, gosh, that’s so interesting because I actually have a reviewer, a favorite book blogger of mine. And she whenever she reads the books, my book or any book, she always does like a fictional cast. So yeah, I know. So I’m always interested to see how people pass my book. I don’t know the mate. So the two characters are Ingrid Alario is the lawyer who is a former lawyer who comes back and her client is Opal Rowan and I. They’re both. They’re both very. They’re both very interesting characters to me, but also very diametrically different. And so I don’t know, I have to think about it a little bit. Actually, that’s funny. That’s something I’ve thought about who would, who would play them? Certainly not me. And we’ve the end this series, even though it’s ironically, a legal drama series is probably the least. All of my other books, I always say like before this, my first five novels said end to end were like my memoir right there. I write fiction, because I’m not brave enough to write nonfiction. But they were very personal, right. They were very personal stories. They were not autobiographical, but they were very personal. But this series, ironically, even though it’s legal job, I think, is probably the least personal, most imaginative effort of mine. So I think that’s why it’ll be there’ll be interesting to see how people receive them.

Suzi: I think that’s amazing. And I, I’m gonna go pre order your book when we go ahead. Awesome. That’s amazing. I’m so excited for you. And I will put a link to your website in the show notes. So I’m gonna wrap this up. But I want to thank you so much for being here. And I know told me at the beginning of the of our conversation that you get your inspiration from living life, so go out and play in the snow.

Amy: Yeah, yeah. And you do the same. Thank you for having me. This is wonderful. I think it’s wonderful you’re doing and I wish you all the best.

Suzi: Thank you so much for hanging out with us today on legally bliss conversations. If you love this episode, and you want to hang out with other inspiring and light gold female attorneys, be sure to join the legally bliss community at legally blessed.com And be sure to follow me on Instagram at Susie Hixon. See you next time.

amy impellizzeri

Following Your Intuition and Human Design with Amanda Stark

Season 1, Episode 009

In this episode of Legally Blissed Conversations, we are joined by Amanda Stark, former compliance attorney turned Human Design Expert. Amanda says she learned the hard way that SHE was the only thing standing between her and the life she wanted. She was doing what she thought she should do instead of what she was called to do.

Now she’s a certified life coach and Human Design expert helping women get in touch with their intuition and live passionate, purpose-filled lives.

Shownotes

Website: https://www.glitterandgravitas.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/amandastark17/

Instagram: @glitterandgravitas

Transcript

DISCLAIMER: The following is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases, it is incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.

Suzi: So I would like to welcome Amanda Stark of glitter and gravitas. Amanda is a certified life coach who helps successful career driven women who from the outside look like they have it all, but have lost their passion and purpose. Amanda helps him reignite it using the framework of human design. And I think that is such a beautiful mission statement. Amanda, first of all, you are a former lawyer, correct?

Amanda: That is correct. Yeah.

Suzi: Do you want to tell us anything about your past life? Sure. Or is this or is it in the past? And you’re like back, they’re gone? We’re moving on?

Amanda: Nope, I can totally talk about it. Yeah, I am. So your listeners might find this amusing. I actually signed up for the LSAT on a whim, I had no intention of going to law school, I was raised in a family of lawyers, and couldn’t sleep one night back in the dark ages with dial up internet. And I got out of bed at like 3am and connected to the internet, and registered for the LSAT and didn’t tell anybody except my sister because I needed to stay with her the night before because it took place at her college. And so anyway, that led me on a 15 year career path of being an attorney. And with a break in between to be a stay at home mom. So I was a stay at home mom for five years. And then I actually when I came back to work, I ended up kind of by accident in this very niche market area of the law doing health care compliance for ambulance services. So fire departments, private EMS agencies, not something that most people spend any time thinking about. But then I was in house for a company that did that, and then ended up working for a firm, the only one in the country that does that type of law. So that very tiny corner of the law. I was pretty famous for a while.

Suzi: That’s awesome. That’s cool. Did you enjoy it?

Amanda: I did right up until I didn’t. 

Suzi: But yeah, that’s pretty typical. So tell us about it.

Amanda: Yeah, I loved there were so many parts of the job that I really liked. I loved to my clients, I got to travel quite a bit, which sounds more glamorous than it is, you know, I write like, it sounds like you get to go to all these cool places. But really, you’re like, in the middle of nowhere. And sitting in a fire hall. Yeah, so not as fun as it sounds. And I was actually telling a friend yesterday, one day I got back, I live in Chicago and I flew into O’Hare Airport, which is a huge airport if nobody’s ever been there. And I got to baggage claim, went to check the screen to see where my bag was gonna come out and couldn’t remember where I just been like, no idea. That’s it, right? Yeah. Yeah, it was like, Oh, I’m traveling way too much. But I did like parts of it. Part of the travel was speaking at conferences and events, which I love to doing. I loved the training and education piece of it. And then so much of what I got to do was proactive. And I wasn’t always cleaning up messes and defending people that had already gotten themselves in trouble. So that part was fun. And I’m just going to be really frank, because this is for female attorneys. I got really, really tired of working for misogynistic old men. And I decided enough was enough. I was tired of being the number one expert in the country and being told by my bosses, oh, people really like your personality. And I thought well, yeah, sure. That’s true. I have an amazing personality. Style, right? That was always a good one, right? Yes. And I was like, Yeah, I’m sure it’s my personality. It has nothing to do with all of my knowledge that I’ve accumulated over the years. So yeah, it was time for career changed. And that led me to coaching which is where I’m at now, and I absolutely love it. Okay,

Suzi: so let’s talk about that transition. So how did you learn about coaching and how Did you decide, okay, I want to actually be a life coach for other people.

Amanda: Yeah, it was not a straight line trajectory. I actually left my firm without a plan, which I do not recommend.

Suzi: nugget of wisdom number one on today’s show Do not leave the firm in anger.

Amanda: Yes. Which is a totally what I did.

Suzi: You know, it happens to the best of us, right?

Amanda: It was for the best. And I don’t regret leaving. But yeah, in hindsight, and I had a plan lined up, that probably would have been better. But so I really started from scratch. I was like, All I know is I don’t want to keep doing that. But what do I want to do? I have absolutely no idea. And so I took the long way. But it’s a lot of what I help my clients do now, which, you know, and I use human design with my clients, but it’s what do you like, what do you feel called to do? And how can we create that in a way that lights you up and makes you feel like you have a purpose? You know, I think so many of us, that’s really what we want, we want to feel like the work we’re doing whether it’s in a firm for a company on our own whatever, we want to feel like it’s having an impact. That is why we got into it. So I kind of started from there, like, What do I love? What do I think I’m good at? And I’ll be honest, one of the first exploratory tests that I did, it wasn’t human design, like what are my strengths? I read it and it was like, love of learning and judgment and impartiality. And I was like, Can I swear on your podcast? I was like, Shit, I have to be a lawyer. That is not the answer. I wanted to hear you say that whenever you didn’t, but it was like all the strings that you associate with attorneys, right? Like, okay, well, I did that already. What else can I do with these strings? So it was really just about exploring, how else can that look. And a big part of it was letting go of the identity of an attorney. I think that is something that carries a lot of weight for us, even when we’re not happy in our careers or jobs. That’s something that you can say, and it gets a reaction, right? Like, it’s not, it’s different than being like, Oh, I work in a cubicle. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But you know what I mean, it just has a different. I don’t know what the word is a different impact on the people that you say it to her.

Suzi: And that’s actually really interesting. I was listening to another podcast the other day, and the female attorney on there had that very same comment about how part of her you know, part of the reason she was so afraid of leaving the law and becoming an author is because she identified so closely with being a lawyer, like it was a part of her right. But here’s the thing, I think that there’s so much that you can take from being a lawyer and having been a lawyer, even if you are not currently a member of the bar of any bar that transitions so perfectly into so many different areas, right of your life, and then also your career choices.

Amanda: Yeah, 100% there’s so many things that carry over that are just good skills to have in life, as well as in jobs. You know, as an attorney, you can write, you can distill things down, you can take complicated things and understand them, you know, there’s a lot of plus memory for details, paying attention and listening. There are so many things that transfer to so many careers, we just have to get it out of our heads that, oh, I went to law school, so I have to be a lawyer. And that’s the only thing that I can do. Right?

Suzi: Right. Yeah. And other skill of digging up is like negotiating, being able to negotiate things. So like if you’re, if you’re a lawyer, and then you’re like, Okay, well, I’m going to start a business, right. And this happens to be brick and mortar, like you’ve got a you have negotiating skills. So yeah, it translates in so many different, so many different ways to think that we can’t look at having been a lawyer, as limiting at all, if anything, it opens up opens up doors.

Amanda: Yeah, I completely agree. I heard on a podcast, it was a doctor who was saying it, not a lawyer, but I think it’s very similar in terms of how you identify as your profession, that she said when she was transitioning to become a coach, a big part of her self concept work that she had to do and where she really felt like she finally had made the transition is she went from being a doctor who happens to be a coach to a coach who happened to have gone to medical school. And I heard that and it was like, Oh, my brain exploded. I was like, yes, that is exactly how I want to feel like I’m a coach that happened to go to law school and I have some skills that carry over from my previous Maria,

Suzi: I absolutely love that. So that’s, that’s really interesting because it really is like you taking that doctor’s thought, right? Like you kind of pick that up and put it into your own situation. And thought work is something that we do a lot, a lot of work around, right as as life coaches. So that’s, that’s great that you’re able to pick up on that and say, Hey, wait a second, like I can apply that to me. Yes, yeah. 100%,

Amanda: I was so thrilled that I heard that I actually, I was listening to this podcast way after it originally aired. But it had that person’s link in the show notes. And so I actually tracked her down on Facebook and sent her a message and just said, Thank you so much for saying that that had such an impact on me when I heard it. And I just wanted you to know, that’s, that’s so good that you do that. 

Suzi: I’m sure that made her day.

Amanda: Well, I like to think so I would love it if somebody did that to me, but I just was so grateful to have heard it that I was like, Oh my gosh, this is just been life changing. For me. I was so glad I heard that.

Suzi: I love it. Okay, so I’ve got a couple of questions about your business specifically. You, you mentioned human design a couple of times, and I got a beautiful newsletter from you this past week. And it was it was amazing. And then you had the bottom of the of the email kind of your mission. And you mentioned human design. And what I thought was really interesting about it is you capitalize human design. So tell us a little bit about what that what that means to you. What is human design?

Amanda: Yeah, so it is something that I just fell in love with when I discovered it. And I’m sure a lot of your listeners can relate as lawyers, when we get excited about something, right? We just want to learn all about it. All the things. Oh my gosh, let me read everything I can get my hands on. So that’s where I was with human design. I was like, What is this amazingness. And so I actually and actually, it’s funny behind my Zoom screen right now I have a client’s Human Design reading that I’m working on. So human design is in a nutshell, it’s similar to astrology, it’s based on astrology, the Jewish Kabbalah, and the Chinese I Ching. So it combines those three, you know, I’ll say like, Eastern mystical practices. But in my mind, because I am not a very, I would not have considered myself super spiritual and woo, although turns out I actually am it was a hidden part of me. But you know, but as a logical right brained, you know, compliance attorney, right, it has so many practical purposes, like what I love about human design is when you learn about it, when you don’t want to throw out a ton of words that people aren’t going to know what I’m talking about. But in human design, you have a profile, you have a type. And those at the very high level, that guide your strategy, how you do things, how you interact with the world, and how you show up. So for me, my profile means that I like to learn all the things, and then I have to experiment with them myself. So for example, not only did I do all the readings, but I was like, getting charts, do all that read all the books that I was getting charts from all of my friends and being like, Hey, give me your birth place in time, I want to do a human design reading for you just because I wanted to play with it and see how it comes up. But how I use it with my clients? Sorry, you asked me human design, and I could talk about this for hours. 

Suzi: But I aid, Yeah, this is exactly what we want to know for sure. Yeah.

Amanda: Yeah. So how I use it with my clients is we really look at how are you showing up? Are you following your strategy at a high level? And then also, what are some recurring themes that pop up in your chart? So for example, I did a reading recently where the one of the recurring themes was starting, but not finishing. So having that really high excitement level to get started, and then not having the energy to carry it through. So then we look at, okay, how can you use that, in its natural form, to help you in your life, in your business in your career, right, this particular person happened to be an entrepreneur, but I mean, it works in terms of just your career path as well. You know, for example, like in the legal realm, you know, maybe you are somebody who does client intakes and brings clients in, but when it comes to doing their actual transactional work, that’s not your strong suit, because you’ve lost that excitement and energy for it. And that’s such a great awareness,

Suzi: right for people, not only, you know, in kind of their professional life, but also just their personal life as well.

Amanda: Where am I starting things right, and maybe actually not, not finishing them? That’s right. Yeah, exactly. And even some of those things that can see more like challenges like you know, you can I read that as like, I don’t follow through on what I start. But a lot of times that comes with if we’re doing things that are aligned with our purpose as created within our human design, we can easily overcome those challenges where we get put up against a wall is when we’re not following our strategy. So like one of my signs that I’m not following my strategy can be frustration, right? That I just feel like no matter what I’m doing, I’m not getting anywhere, I’m not making any progress. And that typically means I am trying to do work outside of my natural human design strategy. So it’s just it’s so fascinating. And I just find it so amazing. And I use that, you know, kind of as a framework, but we do traditional coaching as well, you know, thought work and mindset and all of those things as well.

Suzi: I love that. So the other question I have about your business, because I have a feeling we could talk about human design for a long time. Sounds really, really sounds really fascinating. I’m curious about your the name of your business, glitter and gravitas. I’m a trademark attorney. So I’m always curious about name origins, right? Like brand origins, how they came up with the name. So what is glitter, and gravitas mean to you? And how did you come up with that funding?

Amanda: Yeah, so fun. I love words, I am a prolific reader. And I just, I love words and choosing the right word for things. So it was really fun for me to come up with it. And I think I wanted something that I felt really represented, me and I have always felt, and I’m sure a lot of your listeners can relate to this to that sometimes, as a woman in law, you can feel a little bit square peg round hole, right? Especially if you identify like I do is more of a girly girl. And, you know, I like all the sparkles all the makeup, all the fancy, pretty things. And so, you know, going into this world where you think of, you know, uptight and suits and like being quiet and all of those things that sometimes it was like, No, but I just like, I want to wear my sparkly tights to work. So I wanted something when going out on my own, I wanted something that I just really felt represented that side of me without diminishing because I think there’s that patriarchal message out there that says, Oh, if you like your big, gorgeous earrings, like you’re wearing right now, like if you love your fancy earrings, or your cute clothes, or your shoes that you’re not serious or nice, yeah. That you can’t be, you can’t be smart and pretty for like, at its most basic level, right? Like you have to be one or the other. You either have to be girly, or you have to be professional, you have to be smart, or you have to be frivolous, like you can’t be both of them don’t both exist, right? Yeah, exactly. So that’s where it came from. Glitter is one of my favorite things. So that was easy for me to come up with. They just love anything that sparkles. And then the gravitas, I really wanted something that I felt represented strength in a feminine and reserved kind of way, not a in your face, I’m going to overpower you kind of strength. But in a just a very, I think refined way. And I love that one of the definitions of gravitas is decorum. And I just I that’s another word that I love. Just because I think it represents such poise. From a strong standpoint that like you can be in the face of something really tough and hold it together and come out. All put together and pretty and sparkly at the end. You can still wear your big earrings. 

Suzi: Right? And I love I absolutely love that. Thank you for telling me that that story. That’s really cool. So I got a an email from you this week. And it was really interesting. You’re talking about a conversation that you’d have the client, and you’ll have been talking about the difference between intuition and fear. And I loved some of your comments in this newsletter and I want to read a few of them. You said this, your client asked if the resistance to doing the course that she was interested in producing was actually her intuition telling her to not go after that goal. Would you tell us a little bit about listening to your intuition, right and kind of figuring out like when you’re making decisions, listening to your intuition versus fear based decision making. Yeah, love to have 100 your thoughts about that? Yes. 

Amanda: So intuition shows up differently for different people and depending on your human design, so some people it speaks to you and you gotta listen. Other times it comes to When it’s like, okay, I hear that, let me ride it out, right? Like, let me have a good day with it in a bad day with it and see if it still feels like a good decision. But for everyone, right? Intuition comes to you, where it just feels like a compulsion or like a niggling thought that won’t go away. But intuition, in my mind speaks to you at a high level. So, you know, I would say, intuition for me, has shown up in different ways, like I’ve already talked about, like registering for the LSAT in the middle of the night, right, that just felt like this strong poll. And I listened to it. Now, was it fun to fill out? Applications? Was it fun to study for the LSAT? Was law school fun? No, not at all. But the intuition poll was there to pursue that path. So we have to be able to will be willing to listen to our intuition, but also understand that our brains don’t like us to do hard things, right. So you can say, yeah, I really want to go after this goal. Like in my clients case, it was becoming a Somalia. And so that’s something that I really want to do. I want to go after it. But to sit down and like learn about grapes for hours on end online. Not the most exciting thing I can imagine doing with my day, right? I would much rather watch Netflix or workout or do something else. That’s a taste wine, right? Yes, yes, I’d rather drink the wine and learn how it’s made. Yeah. I thought this was all gonna be drinking wine with other people.

Suzi: Right? Can you just not pass this to me? Like do the computer screen these days? It’s awesome.Amanda: Right? And so that is, you know, so that’s kind of what came up for this client. Like, I really just thought it was my intuition that I wanted to follow this. I wanted to go after the school, but I just cannot make myself sit down and do this online course. So that’s your human brain being like, yeah, doesn’t sound fun. Let’s do something else today. Instead, that’s not necessarily your intuition speaking to where the intuition comes in, is like, if, you know, maybe, like if I saw some advertisement, or came across the opportunity to study to be a Somali eight, that probably wouldn’t call to me, right? I wouldn’t be like, Oh, that’s something that I really want to do, where I was introduced to human design. And I’m like, 10 minutes in on Amazon ordering every book that has human design in it, right? That’s my that’s following your intuition. But like going through the less fun pieces, it’s fear seems like a strong word. But really, it’s a driving force. And you know, this as a coach as well. Fear is a driving force. It just means we don’t want to do something hard. We don’t want to be uncomfortable. We don’t want to feel stressed. We don’t want to be anxious, or overwhelmed. But it’s also going through those things is how we get to our big goals and accomplishments.

Suzi: Let’s take a quick pause for a message from my sponsor, prominent practice.

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Suzi: Yeah, that’s awesome. So can you talk a little bit about the intersection of human design and into intuition? Maybe like, like, do you do people have? I guess my question would be, do some people have more innate trustworthiness when it comes to leaning into their intuition? Right? Does that make sense versus some people who are just like, No, no, even though I hear this voice talking to me, I’m going to completely resist it. So like, I mean, I guess there there are people that are kind of on both sides. Is that a human design? Would that would that be because of like human design?

Amanda: Yes, that can be it’s partially Human Design and harsh, partially being a human, right.

Suzi: Yeah, right.

Amanda: So everyone has intuition. You’re human design will factor in how it speaks to you and what you should do about it. And without getting super technical part of human designers you have an authority so So depending on the type of your type, right, there’s different authorities. And that’s how you respond. So for example, I have a emotional authority, which means when I have an intuition, I can feel a call like, yes, that is something that I think I want to do. But then I’m going to have a roller coaster of emotions basically about it like, oh, yeah, I really want to do that. Oh, my gosh, I don’t know, can I do that? Right? And it’s gonna go up and down. And so I have to essentially wait for the roller coaster ride to be over to be like, okay, is that still a yes? Is that still something that I want to do? Other people, depending on their design, don’t have to experience that they can just be like, I want to do that. Okay, Sign me up. Right. So it just depends on your authority and how you should respond. But then there’s also just being a human. And I would say even more so being a woman we are, as women, we’re kind of allotted for our intuition, while also being told never to listen to it. Right? That yeah, that’s true. So I think, as women, if we’re not in the habit of practicing listening to our intuition, then it can be really challenging to just adapt and be able to hear it, that’s a practice and to know when it’s calling to you. And as women that work in male dominated fields that we spent so many years in school, you know, taskmaster, we’ve got to get all the things done, and everything in law school and the law, not only is it a male dominated field, but it’s set up with a completely masculine energy, right? Like, everything is about getting to the top being at the top of your class, making Law Review, getting a clerkship moving on to partner bringing in the most business, everything about that is a masculine energy and listening to your intuition is very feminine. So for not paying attention to that side of ourselves. It can be easy to miss if we’re not practicing.

Suzi: So is that something you work with your clients on? Like, even your lawyer clients? Like leaning into and trusting their intuition more? Because my question is, like, I know, I know where I am on this. But my question is, where is there space in our practice, as lawyers to lean in our into our intuition? Right? Because it’s kind of scary, because, you know, if you have to justify why you make a decision, or why you advise a client to do a certain thing, or not do something, you know, and maybe the vise wasn’t the greatest or they come back to you. I mean, you don’t want to be like, Oh, my gut said, Oh, my intuition said, right. I mean, I’m like, I know where I stand on intuition. It’s it’s grown, I trust it a lot more the older I get, but it does, you know, like, as a younger lawyer, I don’t know if I would have ever been able to do that. So I’d love to know, kind of your thoughts on that?

Amanda: Yeah, absolutely. So you know, and it depends on the type of law that you do. And you know, if you are lower level in a firm versus if you’re at a company, I mean, there’s all sorts of different factors. But off the top of my head, there’s definitely ways you can always be listening to your intuition. For example, if you have the ability to have a say so and whether or not to take on a client or not listen to your intuition about that. Sometimes a client can come to you, I have this experience as an attorney, that somebody came up to me at a conference that I was speaking at. I mean, they checked all the boxes of being exactly the type of client that I helped. And the whole time I was talking to the person, I just had this full body response, like, I don’t want to be part of this. I don’t want to be involved. I don’t trust this person is telling me the truth. Right? So I listened to that. And I had the privilege of where I was at, at that point in my career to be like, No, that’s not a client I’m going to take on. But listen to that. And even if you don’t have a say, you know, those are things that you can investigate further, right? Do your due diligence on that client before the firm signs them, that kind of thing. Settlements is another perfect area where you can listen to your intuition, right? Because sometimes, it doesn’t necessarily seem like how it was supposed to work out on paper. But if you’re feeling that call, like, Yeah, this is the really, this is the right thing to do. It could be because you’re about to step in a minefield if you don’t settle, right that right? So this is the best outcome for you and the client. Those are areas, getting a job where you want to work, if it’s time to leave, if it’s time to go out on your own, if it’s time to go in house or back to a firm or whatever, you know, there’s all kinds of areas on the career path in particular that you can listen to your intuition and follow it. And again, yes, that’s something I work with clients on and it also goes back to your human design how it shows up for you. So with my type that like no response, like Ah, no, I want no part of that. That is my intuition. Speaking that’s how Oh, my type shows up as a no. And as a yes. It’s like, I’m even not like, it’s so like, ingrained in me that I’m like, when it’s a yes. Like it is my whole body will feel it. And I’m like, yes, absolutely, I want to do that. So but different people, it shows up in different ways. But you can definitely lean in and listen to it. Even if you work for someone else in your first year out of law school, there’s opportunities.

Suzi: I think that’s a really good point to make, too, because I think about the difference. Like when I was a young associate, I didn’t necessarily get to choose the clients that I worked for, right, like, especially the first couple of years that like you took the work that they gave you. But when I had my own practice, like, I really did lean in a lot to intuition with respect to new client intake. And I always tell people, you know, one of the best ways to help your mental sanity, as a lawyer, in my opinion, is to have clients that you truly love to serve. Right? The ones that ask you, where do I send the check, right? There’s not the ones that you’re like, Hey, I’ve had this invoice outstanding for 90 days, what’s going on here? Right? And there are clients out there that are like that, right. And I think that, you know, preventing malpractice, like one of the best ways to do it is like during intake, right? When you’re doing that initial client vetting, and trusting that intuition if something does not feel right. Just lean into that, right? You don’t have to say, We second guess ourselves all the time, like, Oh, I’m overthinking this, or like, it’ll be fine. Or I really, like need the money with this with this prospective client. Right? Like you, you hear a lot of that as well. And people always have these rash rationalities, for pushing back that inner voice that they should really be listening to. Yeah, absolutely. I love how you said that, you know, lean into it. And if it’s on an intake, you know, lean into that voice is telling you to ask a different question or explore that a little bit more, because sometimes you can uncover it. And I love that you brought up the rationale of like, Oh, but I really need to bring money, whether you’re on your own, or you are responsible for bringing in business or whatever. There’s always that pressure. But a lot of times if we’re ignoring that voice in our heads that saying, Nope, no, we don’t, we shouldn’t be doing this. When you ignore it, it almost always ends up costing you more money in the long run than if you would have just said no. And then went out and looked for another client that your intuition was saying, yes, let’s I’ll take that one. I like it better. Right. It’s, it’s so true. It definitely ends up costing you in the long run, right, like mental health or, you know, lack of sleep and just so much anxiety. So can we get better at trusting our intuition? Yes, everybody can.

Amanda: It just takes practice. And going back, and this is actually perfect. I don’t know when this is coming out. But when we’re recording it, we are getting ready for a lunar eclipse. And that is actually tomorrow. And so that’s Friday, November 19. I don’t know when this is coming up. Okay, so yeah, so this will be out after? Yeah. After this lunar eclipse. So but this will be good. Because there’s always lunar eclipses. Oh, yeah, that happens. And we’re actually entering in eclipse season. So this is actually even after this, even after tomorrow, this is a great opportunity to do this, to go back and look at areas of your life that you want to work on and see where was your intuition telling you something and you didn’t listen to it? So for me right now, the work I’ve been doing this week, because it goes into astrology and your design and like where you can focus, but for me, I’ve been focusing on relationships, both like partner relationships and family relationships, those kinds of things. And going back and saying, okay, when was my intuition telling me something that I didn’t listen, how did that turn out? When did I listen to my intuition, and then that was the right thing to do. So it’s always a good thing to go back and look, because hindsight, you can see it clearer. I would recommend starting there, especially if you’re like, I don’t even think I have intuition, right? I don’t even know where to start with that. Go back and look, and just pick an area of your life. You know, you can pick your career. Were there times when I felt a pull and I didn’t listen to it. How did that turn out and just explore that Do you know some journaling or some thought work on that and explore it and that can help you identify how it spoke to you so that you can be more aware of it in the future.

Suzi: Okay, I love that because this is all about increasing awareness. Right. And so how does the let me He helped me understand like, how does the Eclipse come into play here? Is it is it just because of like astrologically? It’s a good time to do those reflections. Yeah. And this lunar eclipses are usually kind of a shake. If there are astrologers listening to this, I am not doing astrology as you never know. 

Amanda: I mean, there could be there could be, forgive me. Okay, thank you, I just want to acknowledge, I know I’m not doing a good job of explaining this. There’s a lot to learn and astrology,

Suzi: I’ve got a I’ve got a book. And I was like, whoa, this, there’s a lot here. 

Amanda: But yeah, and as soon as you learn something, there’s like 20 more layers, you can learn about it. But essentially, eclipses kind of shake things up, right. So it’s like, if you were to uncover a rock, right, there’s gonna be stuff under there. So it’s a good time, while you have the rock turned over. If there’s anything you want under there, you should get it out before the rock covers it up again. So that’s kind of a really terrible way of explaining why the Eclipse has something to do with why it’s a good, it’s an especially good time, you might feel more in tune with what’s gone on in certain areas of your life. And especially if you don’t know astrologically, like where this might show up for you. Right now. Just if you’re feeling like you’re kind of dwelling on something, or this certain area of your life keeps coming up to the forefront, just do some exploring, there’s not a wrong way to do it, right? Just pick something and be like, I’m going to pick my job, I’m going to pick my relationships, I’m going to pick my, you know, health, whatever, there’s all sorts of ways that you can do it. And there’s no wrong way to do it.

Suzi: Okay, so what about the person that tells you, I am always logical, and I’m always following my brain,

Amanda: I am not going to follow my gut on this situation, like logic always rules the day, what would you tell that person or the person who says, I’ve never relied on my gut on something, I would tell them that’s not true. And that they probably have followed their gut in the past, they’ve just used logic to explain it to themselves. So A and B, I identify as a very type a logical person to. So I would say like, you can follow your intuition and still use logic and reason to shape how that looks right. Like following your intuition. I think sometimes that’s a misconception. So I’m glad you brought it up. following your intuition doesn’t necessarily mean you like, don’t show up for work for three weeks, or like, you just decide that you’re gonna go on an open ended trip around the country. There are some people that do that, you know, but it doesn’t mean you can’t use logic or that there isn’t room for both to exist together. I definitely think there is it doesn’t mean, if I start listening to my intuition, I don’t use logic and critical thinking and reasoning in my life, either. They’re not mutually exclusive. Yes, 100%. You can and should use both.

Suzi: Okay, so I want to ask you a random question. Okay. What is the problem that you want to solve?

Amanda: Well, this is another one I could talk about forever. I was following my intuition here.

Suzi: I want you to know, I love you and have some good stuff.

Amanda: I want women to stop selling themselves short. I want women to believe in themselves. I think. If you just look at the world, we have let men be in charge. And where has that gotten us? Right? I just think and there are studies talk about intuition and logic coming together. There are studies that show that the more women are on a board at major Fortune 500 100 companies, the more successful the company is, when there are women in leadership, the company makes more money. There’s all sorts of I mean, using masculine barometer is right. There’s all sorts of data to support that women are great decision makers, they are great leaders, that using emotion and intuition in leading and decision making is a great idea. And we collectively, I think, allow ourselves and I’m not calling anybody out and there’s so much history and context here but we allow ourselves collectively, to be told to be quiet, to smile more to have a nice personality to you have to choose right you can be a mom or you can have a career you can be a woman lawyer but not at a top firm. You can’t make partner you can’t take maternity leave all those things right? Right. And I think the more women individually believe in themselves and go after those things, and start shaking things up, the better it gets. I also think I think we sell ourselves short not only that way, but we also tell ourselves that we as individuals don’t matter to the collective. Like, it’s okay if I hate my job, and I cry every single day, because I’m the only one who’s suffering. But that’s not true. Right? That has a ripple effect on everybody that you interact. And for any of you that are moms that are moms have daughters have young girls in your life in any capacity. You are a role model for them, you’re showing them what’s possible. And I think I have two daughters that are 12 and 14 right now. And they, I think about them a lot that if I am modeling to them, like it is okay to go to a job that you hate every single day, it is okay to walk in the door, and you can’t get that y model open fast enough, because the day was so miserable. Like, if I’m modeling that behavior for them that I’m miserable, and I hate it. But this is as good as it can get for me, then 20 years from now, 30 years from now, if they’re in that same situation, they don’t believe they have another option, either. Because that’s what they saw modeled to them. They saw that okay, well, that’s just part of life, right? It’s just a woman. actuating, right, yes, when you’re a woman and you get to middle age, you’re gonna hate your life and your job. And that’s just part of it. And I just think we need to start using that energy to say, Okay, but what if I did change? What if my daughter saw me, like, storm out in anger, not that I should do that better. If they saw me say, like, Nope, that’s enough, I’m not going to be told that anymore, I’m not going to do that anymore. I’m going to do something that makes me happy and joyful, and feel purposeful. And I’m going to do that until I’m ready to do something else. And then I’m going to find something else that fills me with light and happiness every single day. And I feel like I’m doing something important in the world, right, that we always have those options that we’re not stuck, because we made a decision at some point in our past, right. And I think as women, we take that on way too much. Sorry. Like I said, that’s another subject I could talk about forever.

Suzi: That was beautiful. And it’s it’s very interesting, as I hear all the time, right? Like, female lawyers feeling very, very stuck as a lawyer, and you know, I’ve invested, you know, all this time and money into my education, and then all all of this in my career, and they get to this point where they, you know, that sunk cost fallacy as well, like, they don’t they, you know, they don’t see anything, they don’t see options, right. And I want women to understand that. But, you know, having gone to law school, and whether or not you’re in a farm or not, like doors should be open for you. Right? The world, the world is your oyster, right? You can go out and do so many things. You don’t have to, you don’t have to be be in a position where you’re miserable. You know, in some people, some people love big law, right? Like some people love being in a big in the big law firm environment, that’s that, you know, they really thrive in that atmosphere. But not everybody does. So and it’s okay, if you don’t, and it’s okay to, to always kind of be looking at what other possibilities are are out there for you. And, you know, your past doesn’t determine, does it necessarily determine your future? And this is something that we, you know, we kind of learned as life coaches, right, like the importance of being future focused when we make our decisions, like our decisions aren’t based on maybe maybe a bad decision that we’ve, you know, made in the past, but we make our decisions based on on future focus.

Amanda: Yeah, yeah. 100%. And I would say, you know, you said, it’s okay, if big loss and for you, or it’s okay, if you know, whatever particular track isn’t for you. It’s also okay, if it was at one point, and it isn’t now. Yeah, right. Yeah. Yeah. That you always get to change your mind. Yes. Always. There’s never a point where we’re past that, where we can’t change our mind and decide, nope, I don’t want to do this anymore. And it doesn’t mean what you did doesn’t matter. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t count. It doesn’t mean it was a waste of time. It doesn’t mean you weren’t doing the absolute best thing for you. Right up until the point where it wasn’t right. Like I think that’s something that’s really important, like you said, sunk that sunk cost fallacy. Like, it’s like, oh, but then I spent all that money and time in law school, right? Worked my way up. I just made partner. Okay, you still did all those things that’s still in it. accomplishment that you get to keep. But you don’t have to stay there.

Suzi: Yeah, yeah. It’s an interesting mindset. Right? To have, right they. And I think that it’s just one of those. It’s almost like a societal expectation, right? Like you, oh, well, you went to this, you know, this university, then you need to go work in big law and you need to climb the ladder. And then you need to have your corner office, right as a partner and your leather bound books and your, your big oak desk, right. And some people are just like, I don’t want to do that, right. Like, I want to do something totally different. And I love I think that you made a beautiful point to that. You can change your mind, right? Like you were always reevaluating reevaluate all the time, like, is this where I am? In this moment? Does this make sense for me? I think that’s really important. So I want to be really mindful of your time. Amanda, this has been so much fun. I love having you.

Amanda: Yeah, it’s been a fantastic conversation. Thank you so much. Oh, thank you.

Suzi: Let me ask you, where can people find you?

Amanda: Yeah, so I am on Instagram and Facebook. It’s at glitter and gravitas. And that is also my website, glittering gravatar.com. So easy to remember. And you can find me any of those places. And then I do also have a free video training. It is called get unstuck and three steps. It’s talks about a lot of the things we talked about here today. Growing your self confidence, making decisions and acting on those decisions and being you know, focused on what you want. Next. It’s just three really short videos are about all three less than 15 minutes, you can sign up on my website and get it they come right to your email. So we’d love for you guys to check that out as well.

Suzi: Thank you. Thank you again. It’s been so much fun hanging out with you.

Amanda: Yes, you too. I’ve really enjoyed it. Thank you for inviting me.

Suzi: Thank you so much for hanging out with us today on legally bliss conversations. If you love this episode, and you want to hang out with other inspiring and light gold female attorneys, be sure to join the legally bliss community at legally blessed.com And be sure to follow me on Instagram at Suzan Hixon. See you next time.

amanda stark

Managing Stress Through Yoga with Aman Costigan

Season 1, Episode 008

In this episode of Legally Blissed Conversations, we are joined by Aman Costigan, practicing attorney and founder of Beyond Yoga for Lawyers.

Aman believes that lawyers are a unique group of people who can understand each other and relate to the stressors that come with being a lawyer in ways that non-lawyers cannot. 

Lawyer wellness is near and dear to her heart. She’s bringing awareness to lawyer wellness by sharing yoga and mindfulness practices that go beyond the forms of yoga and mainstream practices to promote relaxation, improve focus, and ways to be more present in daily life.

Shownotes

Website: https://beyondyogaforlawyers.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/aman-costigan-56b6994b/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/279416857025806/

Instagram: @beyondyoga_for_lawyersons_marisa

Transcript

DISCLAIMER: The following is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases, it is incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.

Suzi: I’m really excited to have with me today. Aman cos again, she is the founder and yoga teacher at beyond yoga for lawyers as well as a partner at the law firm of shores Jardine LLP. That’s in Canada, correct? That’s right, awesome. Law, your wellness is something near and dear to her heart. One of the ways she’s bringing awareness to law, your wellness is by sharing yoga and mindfulness practices that go be on the forms of yoga and mainstream practices to promote relaxation, improved focus and ways to be more present in daily life. She is passionate about sharing quick and easy ways to manage stress. The tools and techniques she teaches gives lawyers a toolkit of coping mechanisms and helps lawyers be less angry, less reactive and better listeners. I’m in practices law in Canada, where she practices primarily in the area of Professional Regulation. She offers a one hour virtual group yoga class exclusively to lawyers. The group yoga class runs for eight weeks. And the next session starts on January the 26th of 2022 through March 16, of 2022. And you can find out more about Aman and her offerings by visiting her website. And that’s beyond yoga for lawyers. And I will definitely have that in the show notes. Excuse me, I have a cough. Welcome here to the podcast. Amen. So happy to have you. Yeah.

Aman: Thanks so much for having me. Yeah.

Suzi: So I want to can you take me back? Just a few years to when you first started realizing the importance of integrating mindfulness and yoga into your law practice. I would I would love to know, kind of the origin story there.

Aman: Yeah, so it actually started eight years ago. So when I first started practicing law in 2012, but it didn’t really have the like, I didn’t really know or understand what was going on. Because I think back then, and 2012. And I think really up until about even 2018 I was just so disconnected with my own body. Like they’d be like, Oh, feel into your body, like listen to your body. And I’m like, I feel nothing. I feel nothing. I feel like nothing. Nothing’s happening. But I just kept showing up. So I have a two hour yoga class that I’ve been going to with my yoga teacher Anna, since 2012. Or sorry, 2013. Actually, yeah. And it actually started by a Google like search, I was looking for a yoga retreat. And I found her at this retreat. And I didn’t really think much of it. But it was like close to town. And it met kind of, you know, the budget constraints I had at the time. And so I showed up, and a lot of the people there were like, 1520 year students. And I was like, I want to know why, why you keep showing up? Why are you still here? Like, what what is happening, that you are still here. And so they all kind of shared their wisdom. And I’ve been going ever since regularly on Mondays for two hours a week. And it never, it didn’t really sink in, like what was happening. But I noticed that I was just showing up differently in a week where I had gone versus a week that I had missed.

Suzi: Wow. Wow. So what did that look like to you? When you say showing up differently? Like in what way?

Aman: Yeah, so I think part of it was even just like getting back. Like I have an example of I went to that retreat, and when I got home, I’m someone who always has to have like background noise. Like I always need to have like, you know, nowadays it’s a podcast, but at the time it was a radio. But when I got home I was like I’m okay being quiet with myself and with silence. Wow. Which you know, as lawyers if you have like, lots of thoughts, and a lot of them like worrisome thoughts. And so I was able to just be silent with myself and like listen to myself and like my thoughts at kind of calmed down like after that weekend. And then in terms of like my general practice, like, just because my class was on Monday nights, I noticed that I showed up like, less reactive. Like, whether it was an email with a colleague, another lawyer, if something got me kind of on edge, or you know, your forward leaning or you know, you want to react and respond, which is our automatic response, I was able to kind of intercept that and like, have that awareness to be like, Wait, is that how you want to respond? You know, and even in personal relationships, like with my husband, just how you want to show up and respond in those sorts of situations?

Suzi: So would you were the style of yoga that you initially started with the one that you’re I think you said you was about two hours every Monday night? Is that? Is that more of like a meditative kind of type of yoga? Or was it more physical movements, and I mean, I understand like, we can make them both work hand in hand, but what you’re speaking about right now really, like, exemplifies the importance of it with respect to your thinking, right, becoming more aware of your, of your own thought processes, taking a moment to pause, you know, or like saying, okay, you know, what, that email doesn’t have to go out right now. I can, like, sit on it for a little while. And oftentimes, we go back and rewrite those. But I’m curious, like, what about physical impacts, that that the that the yoga has had on your life?

Aman: Right. So you’re right, the yoga that the practice that I do, and that I teach now is a more relaxing, gentler yoga. So it’s, there’s quite a bit of meditative stuff that’s going on. So whether you’re in a pose, like you just hang out there a little bit longer. So it’s kind of more on the restorative side, but not as long like you’re not in poses for like 15 minutes are kind of hanging out for that amount of time. But it is definitely more on the relaxing, gentler side of things. Physically, it’s made a huge difference. So I’ve had ever since, I think, the last job in 2012, I’ve had really, I developed really bad back pain on my left side. And so it’s like this, like, I think it’s like, anyway, I have, I’ve gone to the doctor, they said go to physio. And you know, I’ve had some things like that, but it’s just this kind of tingly sensation, like up the my back. And I’ve noticed that yoga, like, if I go for that two hours a week, it really helps to ease and minimize some of the pain. And I think part of it is from sitting at a desk all day, standing or otherwise, I think part of it is wearing high heels for years. And carrying large bags, like usually my purse, right has like, so much stuff. And so I think all those things just added up together, and it’s created this, this back pain that I have. And so I’ve been able to ease a lot of that pain with that with the class, like that’s a physical experience that I’ve had, I also noticed that, you know, oftentimes our shoulders are up near our ears all the time. And so from the exercises that we do, I’m able to kind of just bring my shoulders down a little bit. And that just helps like the whole body

Suzi: as it does. So I’m curious, what are just like a few little things that we can integrate, as lawyers on a daily basis, right, like, maybe we maybe part of it is becoming more aware of, of our own thinking and our posture, right, like, Do you have any just guidance on just taking a moment in our daily practice to kind of check in with ourselves?

Aman: Yeah, I think like, I’m not one of those people who practices yoga every day. So that’s why I find it, I find it really hard to say like, oh, you should, you know, do an hour every day, because I’m not that person that just doesn’t work in the season of life, but I think I’m in or have been in. So I really try to watch myself when I come up with excuses, like for myself, or when I’m like, oh, I’ll just do it before bed. rarely ever happens. Unless I’m like, you know, really, I’m really on top of it. And so I really find that you’ve got to just find those two minutes. And if you’re a morning person, then maybe it’s in the morning. And if you finish something like rather than quickly moving to the next task, like maybe taking two minutes to pause there. And I really find like just even like hands on your chest. And just like sitting back closing your eyes. And you know that whole listen to your body and like feel what you can feel. Even if you feel nothing like just continuing to show up for yourself, like will eventually you will eventually connect and hopefully faster than, you know, my six, seven years.

Suzi: Because it’s totally fine. Right? Everyone’s kind of on a different journey. And what was when you started really integrating yoga. What was the reception like, amongst maybe your law firm in particular, but general attorneys in general

Aman: So I was actually really scared to tell anybody at my law firm that I started beyond yoga Fuller’s in January. So I didn’t tell anybody and very few of them. Still some people who don’t know. So I never told anybody and very few of them are on social media. And I go by beyond yoga for lawyers on Instagram. So, you know, unless you’re looking for that, you probably wouldn’t, unless you’re Googling me, you probably wouldn’t find it either. I’m obviously on LinkedIn. So it’s there. So a few people noticed from that. But I definitely kept it kind of within, like, I started slowly, slowly, right, like telling people because I started from a belief that I was doing something wrong. Why?

Suzi: Let’s talk about that. Yeah,

Aman: um, because everyone around me, or at least, you know, my belief was that everyone that I worked with and around me, and that I saw as lawyers were lawyers. And that was, that’s their identity. And I felt like, I had I had a career, I’m a lawyer, that’s what I do. And why am I trying to look to do things on top of that, like, people would ask me, like, your partner at a law firm? Like, why do you need to do you know, why do you need to do this business? Like, you’re not going to make any money? Nobody’s gonna come? Like, why are you doing this, you’re just adding stress. And, you know, like, you could just focus on, you know, your Billings. And I just, I just felt like, you know, from those sorts of comments, and you know, the thoughts in my own head that I had a judgment of others, like I was doing something that I shouldn’t have been doing.

Suzi: Okay, that’s fascinating. And I don’t, I get that, I get that, right. Like you see this mission like this other kind of thing you want to do. And at the end of the day, deep down, when many of us know that this is life is not about billable hours, right? Like, not all of us want the corner office in the big law firm with, you know, the leather bound books and oak desk, or whatever it is, right? Like, we’re not all of us want that. And some people just have such a hard time comprehending that. Not all of us fit inside this neat little like, what an attorney should look like kind of box. So what were your What was your response? In those situations? When people said that to you about, you know, why would you be doing this, like you make plenty of money as a lawyer, you should focus your time on billing. Yeah, what was your What was your? What’s your thought process? And what was your response? 

Aman: Yeah, I think part of it was my own inner work like that I had to do, it was accepting that I was different. And that I was okay with that. And that was hard. Because I tried for like, five, six years, you know, the first half of my practice to, to do law and want to write the book and want to do presentations on it. And, and now I’ve transitioned to a law that I really do enjoy, and I really do love my practice. But I think I’ve also enjoyed it more, because I’ve added on more things like beyond yoga for lawyers into my life, whereas I didn’t have that before. And so I think just accepting that about myself, and being okay, like, having my own back is what is what you hear out there. Right. And so that was one of the things like just being okay with being myself and accepting that for myself, because people are gonna judge like, people have comments, like, when I, you know, when I’ve done lots of things, people have opinions about what I’ve done, whether they think it’s good, or whether they think it’s bad, they’re gonna have an opinion every time. And so just accepting that people are going to have their opinions, and they’re going to have things to say about you. And you have to be ready to kind of, I think, be able to take what they say, listen, and do what you will with it. And for me, that was, you know, not letting it stop me from showing up.

Suzi: Mm hmm. I love that. So in your current practice, do you work with lawyers directly? I know that you have your online you know, your your online training, do you work with lawyers? Well, I know things are a little weird to you’re very well working from home, right? Like, we’re, you know, we’re in the middle of a pandemic. So do you even if you’re not doing it right now, do you foresee that you will do that like work with attorneys kind of want to, like within a corporate like atmosphere? Do you see I’m saying like, actually go in and, and work with them? Like, do we foresee that firms and it can be very different candidates to but would firms like compensate you to come in and work with them, like groups of attorneys at one time? Does that was that like something on their own? You know, or have you ever done that?

Aman: Yeah, it’s something. So I’ve done organizations before. So I do the group yoga classes that I do, which are eight weeks long. And then I also do one off like one on one, if you want to call it that for organizations, for law firms, and that sort of thing. And so that’s usually a customized, whether they want an hour or 45 minutes, I kind of do a class specifically for that group of lawyers. So I’ve done organizations, I haven’t done any law firms yet. But I do see that being part of it. And I think the yoga that I teach, when we’re eventually able to be in person, I think that there is great benefit to partner work to seeing it on other people. And so I think that, you know, one day in the future, that that will be something I’ll definitely integrate.

Suzi: One of these days, when we ever get back into the offices, right? But then it’s like, are people going to even really? Do people even really want to get back into the office and people are just like it, you know, pretty nice being in my yoga pants all day long, not just for yoga class?

Aman: Totally. Yeah.

Suzi: Okay, so I want to know what it’s like, along this journey to sort of have this really amazing balance, I’m sensing that you have, what was your biggest obstacle that you that you’ve encountered?

Aman: The first thing that’s coming to mind, because I think I’ve had quite a few. Because doing things differently, is hard. Especially when you and everybody that surrounds you, is doing it a different way. it’s been the judgment of others, I think, in the opinions of others, and what other people are gonna say about me what they’re gonna think about me the way I show up on social media, because you and I both know, people see you, but they might not necessarily, you know, say anything to you about it, right. But then they’re talking amongst their friends about you. And so I think, just being able to kind of get over that and like, continue to show up and go for that higher purpose in life. And really, that mission of helping others.

Suzi: Yeah, and leaning back into like, what your mission is, right? Because even if you do see like, some random off him hand comment, or you hear someone like, almonds doing this crazy yoga stuff, right? Like you, you can be like, okay, whatever, I can still lean back into the greater mission. Right? So it’s like, you can handle it emotionally at this point, because it’s sort of the Sticks and stones may break my bones kind of thing. But you know, that there’s a greater purpose in what you’re doing. And it’s not really just about you at this point. It’s about it’s your why. So what what is your why? Let’s take a quick pause for a message from my sponsor, prominent practice.

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Aman: I think at first so it first started with my empire freedom, which is something I came up with in 2009 TM. And I was like I freedom for me was something that I desire I crave in my life is freedom, the golden handcuffs when I’ve heard comments about that. I’m like, I do not want to be that person. Like, I need to be able to be free. Yes. Yeah. Like I need to be free because I don’t I can’t be stuck. Like I can’t. I can’t happen to marry.

Suzi: It’s scary. Yes, yes.

Aman: So going to the opinions of others, just for a moment. We bought two Mercedes when husband and I both lawyers and when we early in our careers. We both bought two Mercedes. And so people have lots of comments about when we bought two Mercedes, then bye, but that we sold both of our Mercedes for one vehicle, and then everybody had comments about the Oh, I’m

Suzi: sure they had even more comments right everyone hasn’t happened? Yeah.

Aman: So you just kind of got it, like people are gonna say what they’re gonna say. So you really got to connect back with your why and your higher purpose. And so I think that it started with my empire freedom and wanting to have my own business, like I wanted something that was my own, that there were no rules around, you know, had to be this length of a, you know, post, it had to be this long, you know, or short of a video and had to include these things like I just wanted to do my own thing. And that was kind of where it started. And that’s been successful. I’ve had really good lawyer reception to the group yoga classes and the yoga that I’m sharing, and even from non lawyers, who have been asking to join who I’ve had to say no to. But the bigger y for me has been now getting testimonials back, and feedback from lawyers who have done the Yoga with me. And that’s been I think my biggest joy is being able to see how it actually helps lawyers, they’re like, you know, that back breathing that you taught, I can do it anywhere, and it automatically and instantly calms me. And I’m like, yes.

Suzi: That’s yeah. So it seems like the yoga obviously, you know, physical movement, you know, helps you relax physically. Wow, like, that is just such an in depth. That’s such a deep statement there, isn’t it? No, but I guess my point, my point here is, when we see like the physical impacts of maybe movement, yoga, right, and then there’s like the mental yoga, and I’m always kind of like, interested in how they play together, how our physical bodies, right? impacts us mentally, and also how our mind works and how our mind impacts us physically. Like, like, for me, if I’m really stressed about something like my body tenses up. I think it I feel less like sensitive in some ways. It’s almost like an increased level of cortisol. I also feel like maybe there’s a lack of creativity. And I think that lawyers really need to. I mean, it’s my opinion that creativity in the practice of law, is a really good thing. I think that you mentioned that, right? Like how, you know, the, the practice of yoga can decrease stress, promote relaxation, which, in effect, could increase creativity? How do you see all of that playing in the practice of law? Particularly the creativity part? Yeah, I

Aman: think for me, like, I’ll just my own example. So when I go to my class, or I do a yoga, even if I do like a two minute meditation, again, I have no expectations, like, I think that’s important to make sure that you’re not being like, Okay, I’m going to go to yoga class, or I’m going to do yoga, or Do this five minutes, but I’m expecting, you know, this in return, I think it has to be a genuine connection within practice. And when you do do that, for me, the creativity could come on my files, so on legal files about things I had not even thought about doing, because I have that space. And I’ve had that quiet for those ideas to actually come through and be able to hear, you know, from my higher self, or from my intuition, or whatever you want to call it. And even for beyond yoga for lawyers, like all have ideas, like oh, you should do a post about, you know, this, or you should share about how you didn’t go to your grandmother’s funeral, and how you missed it, because you were too busy. And I’m like, oh, okay, so I like, you know, things come to me, that would ordinarily not if I didn’t make the space or the time to hear and be open for them.

Suzi: So that’s, I mean, not Yoga is not just about physical movement, right? It’s, it’s allowing that quiet space. You mentioned, really interesting word here. And it’s something that I’ve been really kind of pondering is where and duck maybe the question is, does and where would intuition have a place in the practice of law? In such a logical analytical type of career? Can we integrate tuition? Based on like, I don’t know. Yeah,

Aman: I’m trying to think I think I do use it. Maybe not consciously every time but I definitely like I’ll have a gut read like I you know, I think that gut reaction to a file or to another like opposing counsel, you know how this is going to go like, is this going to be a reasonable amicable relationship? Someone that I can trust that kind of thing, if I don’t know them, or is it not one Are you know, do I get the kind of spidey senses about things? Or, you know, am I getting the full information? Like the full picture? Like, I think I default to that to be like, you know, intuition like kind of, you know, kind of sensing in my body, like, what am I noticing about this that has me kind of on guard, and then I evaluated right, because not every, you know, fear or rest or concern is going to be something that, you know, I really should be worried about.

Suzi: I think that’s great, right, like, lean into that tuition and listen to it, but check in again, with yourself to make sure that it doesn’t really conflict with something that’s completely logical, I think.

Aman: Yeah, I think like, I’m all about experimenting. Yeah. You know, like, you got to try things on and see how they fit. And if they don’t work for you, then try it a different way. And, you know, keep what works.

Suzi: Yeah, keep what works and be curious. Right? And I think that is maintaining that curiosity, and whether or not it’s like, maybe, you know, will this style of yoga, be right up my alley, or I’m going to go into this yoga session without expectations. And I think that that’s, that’s really, that was a really good piece of advice. For people who are interested in, in trying to integrate meditation, or yoga into into their daily lives, it’s to help them become better people and better lawyers specifically. I agree. So I want to know, what is next for you.

Aman: In terms of beyond yoga for lawyers, or just generally,

Suzi: all of the above? What, Okay, what’s next for you that excites you? If personal or beyond yoga for lawyers or being a lawyer,

Aman: I think, right now, so I’ve had some requests. So my group yoga classes are live. So I do ask that people show up, I don’t record them just for privacy, and for, you know, safety reasons. So people can just feel like you can ask whatever you can do whatever. And it’s a safe space. But I have been asked by lots of lawyers who can’t make it to the one hour a week that I offer right now. And so I’m really excited to put together some video kind of on demand classes, which is basically a recreation of the eight weeks that I do, but I’m going to turn it into a video series. And I know that I know, by goal setting in the way that I work that I can’t do everything all at once I need to pack. And so this will be a future project, but it’s something that I think I’ll be able to help more lawyers with, and especially the ones who you know, can’t make it to the to the once a week classes that I have.

Suzi: So are you finding most of your attorneys that you’re working with? Are they based in Canada, or the US or just everywhere?

Aman: No. So the way that life happened, it’s that actually I joined some masterminds in 2020, that had me with lawyer entrepreneurs in the States. And again, which is why I felt like I’m like, Oh, my gosh, I’m like the only Canadian that’s here, like something wrong.

Suzi: We love our Canadians.

Aman  

Like, we’re the Canadian lawyers hanging out. So no, but I was so fortunate to meet a group of lawyer entrepreneurs who are either practicing and have the business on top of their law practice, or have transitioned out of the law and have a practice, have their own business that they started. And so I was able to connect with them through this mastermind and continue to mastermind with them. And they were able to share their connections with me. Some of them were, of course, they all actually are high achievers who are on boards and part of organizations. And so they’re like, I know this person, you can, you know, teach as part of that. And so I actually got my start from all of them.

Suzi: While your American lawyer I love it. Yes. So I would, I’d love to know, like, what would you love for the young female lawyer? That’s listening right now? Like, what would you tell her? Right? What little piece of guidance would you give her that you wish that you would have had a few years out of law school? Can I give to just one that was getting so funny, I’m sorry, I am like, I am like all about the dead. I am all over this point my life. No, please give us please give me to give us.

Aman: Yeah, and I think both of them I kind of touched on but I really think that they would have helped and the first one is surrounding yourself with people who are doing things differently that you are drawn to. Yes. Like for me, it ended up being things like The Life Coach School podcast, so that was a big part of that like mental shift for me like that mindset shift. Sure. Yeah. And financial independence was Another one that early on in my practice once I paid off all my student loan debt in that beautiful Mercedes, and I didn’t want golden handcuffs, financial independence was a huge community that I wanted to learn from, oh, I love that. 

Suzi: I think that’s amazing, right? Just leap surrounding yourself who, with with people who are living in a way in which you aspire to people that you emulate or want to emulate? I think that’s, that’s important. And I think it’s really kind of challenging, though, to do that as a young lawyer, because you’re working so much, and unfortunately, even your recreation time, which, you know, it’s kind of questionable when you’re just starting out. You know, it’s, I feel like the law firms just encourage, you know, let’s all hang out, you know, and I was always like, No, I don’t want to hang out with you all. Like, we, I come here to work, like, and that’s what I’m doing. I’m, I am your cog, and I’m putting out the work like, I am not interested in being your friends, you’re outside, right. But you know, it is really hard as a young lawyer, because that’s what you’re, you’re just immersed in it, you’re immersed in this in a certain lifestyle, and you’re, you start spending money commensurate with your, with your income growth, right? All of a sudden, you’ve got three kids and, and they’re all in private school. So, you know, I think that it’s really important thing, that’s such great guidance, you know, to just really think about that, like, is that what you want? Do you want the golden handcuffs? Like you that was never that wasn’t attractive to me. It just wasn’t. It wasn’t it wasn’t desirable, but but it is for so many people.

Aman: Yeah, but I see the stress on the people who have the golden handcuffs. And I’m not sure how long I would last in the practice. Like, I know that the golden handcuffs is why they keep showing up. But I’m just not sure like for me, I think the stress would just eat me alive.

Suzi: Right? It doesn’t matter how much yoga your bill an hour. An hour. Do yoga for an hour, right? I know I’m I feel this. I can’t imagine. You know, I hang out someone fishbowl? I’m not sure if you’re familiar with this platform. You should check it out. I think it’s owned by Glassdoor now, but you know, I am to take a look at big law like the big law fishbowl with our bowl within the fishbowl within fishbowl and women in law, and oh my gosh, you know, the complaint, just that. Just the trauma and drama that I see posted there, I’m like, Whoa, like, things haven’t really changed since I was a young lawyer, which was more than a couple of years ago, things haven’t really changed, you know? And a lot of that, is that, that stress that, oh, you know, decision making, you can see a lot of just just, you know, it just challenges with, do I have? Do we have the baby now? Do we wait till a partner? You know, all of that. And it’s, it’s interesting, because when I see these questions, I’m like, do these people not know that, like, they can make decisions, right? Like, they are not bound to anything, they can live whatever life they choose to live, at the end of the day, and they think they don’t write, they might think that they don’t have individual autonomy. But if you know, you’re, you’re a listener of The Life Coach School, Brooke Castillo, and I am to write and so I know that like, at the end of the day, we have, we can leave the job, we can walk out, right, but the decision is Do you Do you like the repercussions? You can? I think that her her example was she she realized that she could leave her children at the playground or something, something like that. And if you remember that, and it was so like an eye opening thing to her right that she had she can do. I mean, that gave her an element of freedom when she realized that like No, no, I don’t want to leave my children. But um, you know, my point is that I feel like so many attorneys who are really stuck and it doesn’t necessarily get easier as they continue to go it as they continue to practice law and a part of that is, you know, they’re they start spending more money just like they start making more money. And maybe, maybe it’s the situation where they’re not the the golden handcuffs. Maybe they’re okay with that. I mean, there’s two words in there right? Gold. Maybe the golden is so so gold that the handcuffs are, are okay. But it sounds like for you you’re like, Yeah, hell no, I’m not going to live my life this way.

Aman: Yeah, I think that if you can’t like I think it’s called you have to consciously decide. Yeah, and I think I was one of those people just you know, I became a lawyer and I was like, Well, I’ve made it. I’ve made it I don’t really like, this is what I work so hard for. Yeah, this is like I made it and like that’s it and what like, but then it became like, what’s next? And why am I not fulfilled? Why am I not feeling fulfilled at the end of the day, and for me, it was the variety, it lacked the variety and my own business and doing other ventures like on top of my law practice and being part of other creations and that’s what drives me and motivates me, and makes me love my practice my legal practice more because I’m able to do other ventures,

Suzi: you’ve been like the perfect guest for, for my audience, I think that there’s so much to learn from you, you know, making your own decision, having your own back, right, I think that’s so important. Where can you allow creativity to be present in your life, either in or outside of the law practice? And, you know, understanding that life is not about practicing law, like even when you quote unquote, made it. You know, like, I you know, I’m a partner in a big firm now, you know, people have their have different definitions of what what, you know, they think it made it means in terms of being a lawyer and practicing law. So I just want to thank you so much for hanging out with me and having this conversation. I think that it’s going to really resonate with a lot of people. I hope that people are inspired by it, I can’t imagine why they would not be. So where can people find you? I will put some links in the show notes. But I’d love for you to tell tell everyone, like, where you are in social and all that good stuff. Sure. So I

Aman: mostly hang out on Instagram. I’m in my stories quite a bit. So I might be on yoga for lawyers on Instagram. And then on LinkedIn, I’m more formal. So I just go by my first and last name. And then on Facebook. I have a private Facebook group that I’ve created for beyond yoga for lawyers. And so if you just search that up, you’ll find it and I will invite you it.

Suzi: Thank you so much for hanging out with me. This was so much fun. I learned a lot. Thank you so much.

Aman: And thank you for having me. It was a lot of fun.

Suzi: Thank you so much for hanging out with us today on legally bliss conversations. If you love this episode, and you want to hang out with other inspiring and light gold female attorneys, be sure to join the legally bliss community at legally blessed.com And be sure to follow me on Instagram at Suzan Hixon. See you next time.

aman costigan

Managing Stress Through Yoga with Aman Costigan

Season 1, Episode 008

In this episode of Legally Blissed Conversations, we are joined by Aman Costigan, practicing attorney and founder of Beyond Yoga for Lawyers.

Aman believes that lawyers are a unique group of people who can understand each other and relate to the stressors that come with being a lawyer in ways that non-lawyers cannot. 

Lawyer wellness is near and dear to her heart. She’s bringing awareness to lawyer wellness by sharing yoga and mindfulness practices that go beyond the forms of yoga and mainstream practices to promote relaxation, improve focus, and ways to be more present in daily life.

Shownotes

Website: https://beyondyogaforlawyers.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/aman-costigan-56b6994b/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/279416857025806/

Instagram: @beyondyoga_for_lawyersons_marisa

Transcript

DISCLAIMER: The following is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases, it is incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.

Suzi: I’m really excited to have with me today. Aman cos again, she is the founder and yoga teacher at beyond yoga for lawyers as well as a partner at the law firm of shores Jardine LLP. That’s in Canada, correct? That’s right, awesome. Law, your wellness is something near and dear to her heart. One of the ways she’s bringing awareness to law, your wellness is by sharing yoga and mindfulness practices that go be on the forms of yoga and mainstream practices to promote relaxation, improved focus and ways to be more present in daily life. She is passionate about sharing quick and easy ways to manage stress. The tools and techniques she teaches gives lawyers a toolkit of coping mechanisms and helps lawyers be less angry, less reactive and better listeners. I’m in practices law in Canada, where she practices primarily in the area of Professional Regulation. She offers a one hour virtual group yoga class exclusively to lawyers. The group yoga class runs for eight weeks. And the next session starts on January the 26th of 2022 through March 16, of 2022. And you can find out more about Aman and her offerings by visiting her website. And that’s beyond yoga for lawyers. And I will definitely have that in the show notes. Excuse me, I have a cough. Welcome here to the podcast. Amen. So happy to have you. Yeah.

Aman: Thanks so much for having me. Yeah.

Suzi: So I want to can you take me back? Just a few years to when you first started realizing the importance of integrating mindfulness and yoga into your law practice. I would I would love to know, kind of the origin story there.

Aman: Yeah, so it actually started eight years ago. So when I first started practicing law in 2012, but it didn’t really have the like, I didn’t really know or understand what was going on. Because I think back then, and 2012. And I think really up until about even 2018 I was just so disconnected with my own body. Like they’d be like, Oh, feel into your body, like listen to your body. And I’m like, I feel nothing. I feel nothing. I feel like nothing. Nothing’s happening. But I just kept showing up. So I have a two hour yoga class that I’ve been going to with my yoga teacher Anna, since 2012. Or sorry, 2013. Actually, yeah. And it actually started by a Google like search, I was looking for a yoga retreat. And I found her at this retreat. And I didn’t really think much of it. But it was like close to town. And it met kind of, you know, the budget constraints I had at the time. And so I showed up, and a lot of the people there were like, 1520 year students. And I was like, I want to know why, why you keep showing up? Why are you still here? Like, what what is happening, that you are still here. And so they all kind of shared their wisdom. And I’ve been going ever since regularly on Mondays for two hours a week. And it never, it didn’t really sink in, like what was happening. But I noticed that I was just showing up differently in a week where I had gone versus a week that I had missed.

Suzi: Wow. Wow. So what did that look like to you? When you say showing up differently? Like in what way?

Aman: Yeah, so I think part of it was even just like getting back. Like I have an example of I went to that retreat, and when I got home, I’m someone who always has to have like background noise. Like I always need to have like, you know, nowadays it’s a podcast, but at the time it was a radio. But when I got home I was like I’m okay being quiet with myself and with silence. Wow. Which you know, as lawyers if you have like, lots of thoughts, and a lot of them like worrisome thoughts. And so I was able to just be silent with myself and like listen to myself and like my thoughts at kind of calmed down like after that weekend. And then in terms of like my general practice, like, just because my class was on Monday nights, I noticed that I showed up like, less reactive. Like, whether it was an email with a colleague, another lawyer, if something got me kind of on edge, or you know, your forward leaning or you know, you want to react and respond, which is our automatic response, I was able to kind of intercept that and like, have that awareness to be like, Wait, is that how you want to respond? You know, and even in personal relationships, like with my husband, just how you want to show up and respond in those sorts of situations?

Suzi: So would you were the style of yoga that you initially started with the one that you’re I think you said you was about two hours every Monday night? Is that? Is that more of like a meditative kind of type of yoga? Or was it more physical movements, and I mean, I understand like, we can make them both work hand in hand, but what you’re speaking about right now really, like, exemplifies the importance of it with respect to your thinking, right, becoming more aware of your, of your own thought processes, taking a moment to pause, you know, or like saying, okay, you know, what, that email doesn’t have to go out right now. I can, like, sit on it for a little while. And oftentimes, we go back and rewrite those. But I’m curious, like, what about physical impacts, that that the that the yoga has had on your life?

Aman: Right. So you’re right, the yoga that the practice that I do, and that I teach now is a more relaxing, gentler yoga. So it’s, there’s quite a bit of meditative stuff that’s going on. So whether you’re in a pose, like you just hang out there a little bit longer. So it’s kind of more on the restorative side, but not as long like you’re not in poses for like 15 minutes are kind of hanging out for that amount of time. But it is definitely more on the relaxing, gentler side of things. Physically, it’s made a huge difference. So I’ve had ever since, I think, the last job in 2012, I’ve had really, I developed really bad back pain on my left side. And so it’s like this, like, I think it’s like, anyway, I have, I’ve gone to the doctor, they said go to physio. And you know, I’ve had some things like that, but it’s just this kind of tingly sensation, like up the my back. And I’ve noticed that yoga, like, if I go for that two hours a week, it really helps to ease and minimize some of the pain. And I think part of it is from sitting at a desk all day, standing or otherwise, I think part of it is wearing high heels for years. And carrying large bags, like usually my purse, right has like, so much stuff. And so I think all those things just added up together, and it’s created this, this back pain that I have. And so I’ve been able to ease a lot of that pain with that with the class, like that’s a physical experience that I’ve had, I also noticed that, you know, oftentimes our shoulders are up near our ears all the time. And so from the exercises that we do, I’m able to kind of just bring my shoulders down a little bit. And that just helps like the whole body

Suzi: as it does. So I’m curious, what are just like a few little things that we can integrate, as lawyers on a daily basis, right, like, maybe we maybe part of it is becoming more aware of, of our own thinking and our posture, right, like, Do you have any just guidance on just taking a moment in our daily practice to kind of check in with ourselves?

Aman: Yeah, I think like, I’m not one of those people who practices yoga every day. So that’s why I find it, I find it really hard to say like, oh, you should, you know, do an hour every day, because I’m not that person that just doesn’t work in the season of life, but I think I’m in or have been in. So I really try to watch myself when I come up with excuses, like for myself, or when I’m like, oh, I’ll just do it before bed. rarely ever happens. Unless I’m like, you know, really, I’m really on top of it. And so I really find that you’ve got to just find those two minutes. And if you’re a morning person, then maybe it’s in the morning. And if you finish something like rather than quickly moving to the next task, like maybe taking two minutes to pause there. And I really find like just even like hands on your chest. And just like sitting back closing your eyes. And you know that whole listen to your body and like feel what you can feel. Even if you feel nothing like just continuing to show up for yourself, like will eventually you will eventually connect and hopefully faster than, you know, my six, seven years.

Suzi: Because it’s totally fine. Right? Everyone’s kind of on a different journey. And what was when you started really integrating yoga. What was the reception like, amongst maybe your law firm in particular, but general attorneys in general

Aman: So I was actually really scared to tell anybody at my law firm that I started beyond yoga Fuller’s in January. So I didn’t tell anybody and very few of them. Still some people who don’t know. So I never told anybody and very few of them are on social media. And I go by beyond yoga for lawyers on Instagram. So, you know, unless you’re looking for that, you probably wouldn’t, unless you’re Googling me, you probably wouldn’t find it either. I’m obviously on LinkedIn. So it’s there. So a few people noticed from that. But I definitely kept it kind of within, like, I started slowly, slowly, right, like telling people because I started from a belief that I was doing something wrong. Why?

Suzi: Let’s talk about that. Yeah,

Aman: um, because everyone around me, or at least, you know, my belief was that everyone that I worked with and around me, and that I saw as lawyers were lawyers. And that was, that’s their identity. And I felt like, I had I had a career, I’m a lawyer, that’s what I do. And why am I trying to look to do things on top of that, like, people would ask me, like, your partner at a law firm? Like, why do you need to do you know, why do you need to do this business? Like, you’re not going to make any money? Nobody’s gonna come? Like, why are you doing this, you’re just adding stress. And, you know, like, you could just focus on, you know, your Billings. And I just, I just felt like, you know, from those sorts of comments, and you know, the thoughts in my own head that I had a judgment of others, like I was doing something that I shouldn’t have been doing.

Suzi: Okay, that’s fascinating. And I don’t, I get that, I get that, right. Like you see this mission like this other kind of thing you want to do. And at the end of the day, deep down, when many of us know that this is life is not about billable hours, right? Like, not all of us want the corner office in the big law firm with, you know, the leather bound books and oak desk, or whatever it is, right? Like, we’re not all of us want that. And some people just have such a hard time comprehending that. Not all of us fit inside this neat little like, what an attorney should look like kind of box. So what were your What was your response? In those situations? When people said that to you about, you know, why would you be doing this, like you make plenty of money as a lawyer, you should focus your time on billing. Yeah, what was your What was your? What’s your thought process? And what was your response? 

Aman: Yeah, I think part of it was my own inner work like that I had to do, it was accepting that I was different. And that I was okay with that. And that was hard. Because I tried for like, five, six years, you know, the first half of my practice to, to do law and want to write the book and want to do presentations on it. And, and now I’ve transitioned to a law that I really do enjoy, and I really do love my practice. But I think I’ve also enjoyed it more, because I’ve added on more things like beyond yoga for lawyers into my life, whereas I didn’t have that before. And so I think just accepting that about myself, and being okay, like, having my own back is what is what you hear out there. Right. And so that was one of the things like just being okay with being myself and accepting that for myself, because people are gonna judge like, people have comments, like, when I, you know, when I’ve done lots of things, people have opinions about what I’ve done, whether they think it’s good, or whether they think it’s bad, they’re gonna have an opinion every time. And so just accepting that people are going to have their opinions, and they’re going to have things to say about you. And you have to be ready to kind of, I think, be able to take what they say, listen, and do what you will with it. And for me, that was, you know, not letting it stop me from showing up.

Suzi: Mm hmm. I love that. So in your current practice, do you work with lawyers directly? I know that you have your online you know, your your online training, do you work with lawyers? Well, I know things are a little weird to you’re very well working from home, right? Like, we’re, you know, we’re in the middle of a pandemic. So do you even if you’re not doing it right now, do you foresee that you will do that like work with attorneys kind of want to, like within a corporate like atmosphere? Do you see I’m saying like, actually go in and, and work with them? Like, do we foresee that firms and it can be very different candidates to but would firms like compensate you to come in and work with them, like groups of attorneys at one time? Does that was that like something on their own? You know, or have you ever done that?

Aman: Yeah, it’s something. So I’ve done organizations before. So I do the group yoga classes that I do, which are eight weeks long. And then I also do one off like one on one, if you want to call it that for organizations, for law firms, and that sort of thing. And so that’s usually a customized, whether they want an hour or 45 minutes, I kind of do a class specifically for that group of lawyers. So I’ve done organizations, I haven’t done any law firms yet. But I do see that being part of it. And I think the yoga that I teach, when we’re eventually able to be in person, I think that there is great benefit to partner work to seeing it on other people. And so I think that, you know, one day in the future, that that will be something I’ll definitely integrate.

Suzi: One of these days, when we ever get back into the offices, right? But then it’s like, are people going to even really? Do people even really want to get back into the office and people are just like it, you know, pretty nice being in my yoga pants all day long, not just for yoga class?

Aman: Totally. Yeah.

Suzi: Okay, so I want to know what it’s like, along this journey to sort of have this really amazing balance, I’m sensing that you have, what was your biggest obstacle that you that you’ve encountered?

Aman: The first thing that’s coming to mind, because I think I’ve had quite a few. Because doing things differently, is hard. Especially when you and everybody that surrounds you, is doing it a different way. it’s been the judgment of others, I think, in the opinions of others, and what other people are gonna say about me what they’re gonna think about me the way I show up on social media, because you and I both know, people see you, but they might not necessarily, you know, say anything to you about it, right. But then they’re talking amongst their friends about you. And so I think, just being able to kind of get over that and like, continue to show up and go for that higher purpose in life. And really, that mission of helping others.

Suzi: Yeah, and leaning back into like, what your mission is, right? Because even if you do see like, some random off him hand comment, or you hear someone like, almonds doing this crazy yoga stuff, right? Like you, you can be like, okay, whatever, I can still lean back into the greater mission. Right? So it’s like, you can handle it emotionally at this point, because it’s sort of the Sticks and stones may break my bones kind of thing. But you know, that there’s a greater purpose in what you’re doing. And it’s not really just about you at this point. It’s about it’s your why. So what what is your why? Let’s take a quick pause for a message from my sponsor, prominent practice.

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Aman: I think at first so it first started with my empire freedom, which is something I came up with in 2009 TM. And I was like I freedom for me was something that I desire I crave in my life is freedom, the golden handcuffs when I’ve heard comments about that. I’m like, I do not want to be that person. Like, I need to be able to be free. Yes. Yeah. Like I need to be free because I don’t I can’t be stuck. Like I can’t. I can’t happen to marry.

Suzi: It’s scary. Yes, yes.

Aman: So going to the opinions of others, just for a moment. We bought two Mercedes when husband and I both lawyers and when we early in our careers. We both bought two Mercedes. And so people have lots of comments about when we bought two Mercedes, then bye, but that we sold both of our Mercedes for one vehicle, and then everybody had comments about the Oh, I’m

Suzi: sure they had even more comments right everyone hasn’t happened? Yeah.

Aman: So you just kind of got it, like people are gonna say what they’re gonna say. So you really got to connect back with your why and your higher purpose. And so I think that it started with my empire freedom and wanting to have my own business, like I wanted something that was my own, that there were no rules around, you know, had to be this length of a, you know, post, it had to be this long, you know, or short of a video and had to include these things like I just wanted to do my own thing. And that was kind of where it started. And that’s been successful. I’ve had really good lawyer reception to the group yoga classes and the yoga that I’m sharing, and even from non lawyers, who have been asking to join who I’ve had to say no to. But the bigger y for me has been now getting testimonials back, and feedback from lawyers who have done the Yoga with me. And that’s been I think my biggest joy is being able to see how it actually helps lawyers, they’re like, you know, that back breathing that you taught, I can do it anywhere, and it automatically and instantly calms me. And I’m like, yes.

Suzi: That’s yeah. So it seems like the yoga obviously, you know, physical movement, you know, helps you relax physically. Wow, like, that is just such an in depth. That’s such a deep statement there, isn’t it? No, but I guess my point, my point here is, when we see like the physical impacts of maybe movement, yoga, right, and then there’s like the mental yoga, and I’m always kind of like, interested in how they play together, how our physical bodies, right? impacts us mentally, and also how our mind works and how our mind impacts us physically. Like, like, for me, if I’m really stressed about something like my body tenses up. I think it I feel less like sensitive in some ways. It’s almost like an increased level of cortisol. I also feel like maybe there’s a lack of creativity. And I think that lawyers really need to. I mean, it’s my opinion that creativity in the practice of law, is a really good thing. I think that you mentioned that, right? Like how, you know, the, the practice of yoga can decrease stress, promote relaxation, which, in effect, could increase creativity? How do you see all of that playing in the practice of law? Particularly the creativity part? Yeah, I

Aman: think for me, like, I’ll just my own example. So when I go to my class, or I do a yoga, even if I do like a two minute meditation, again, I have no expectations, like, I think that’s important to make sure that you’re not being like, Okay, I’m going to go to yoga class, or I’m going to do yoga, or Do this five minutes, but I’m expecting, you know, this in return, I think it has to be a genuine connection within practice. And when you do do that, for me, the creativity could come on my files, so on legal files about things I had not even thought about doing, because I have that space. And I’ve had that quiet for those ideas to actually come through and be able to hear, you know, from my higher self, or from my intuition, or whatever you want to call it. And even for beyond yoga for lawyers, like all have ideas, like oh, you should do a post about, you know, this, or you should share about how you didn’t go to your grandmother’s funeral, and how you missed it, because you were too busy. And I’m like, oh, okay, so I like, you know, things come to me, that would ordinarily not if I didn’t make the space or the time to hear and be open for them.

Suzi: So that’s, I mean, not Yoga is not just about physical movement, right? It’s, it’s allowing that quiet space. You mentioned, really interesting word here. And it’s something that I’ve been really kind of pondering is where and duck maybe the question is, does and where would intuition have a place in the practice of law? In such a logical analytical type of career? Can we integrate tuition? Based on like, I don’t know. Yeah,

Aman: I’m trying to think I think I do use it. Maybe not consciously every time but I definitely like I’ll have a gut read like I you know, I think that gut reaction to a file or to another like opposing counsel, you know how this is going to go like, is this going to be a reasonable amicable relationship? Someone that I can trust that kind of thing, if I don’t know them, or is it not one Are you know, do I get the kind of spidey senses about things? Or, you know, am I getting the full information? Like the full picture? Like, I think I default to that to be like, you know, intuition like kind of, you know, kind of sensing in my body, like, what am I noticing about this that has me kind of on guard, and then I evaluated right, because not every, you know, fear or rest or concern is going to be something that, you know, I really should be worried about.

Suzi: I think that’s great, right, like, lean into that tuition and listen to it, but check in again, with yourself to make sure that it doesn’t really conflict with something that’s completely logical, I think.

Aman: Yeah, I think like, I’m all about experimenting. Yeah. You know, like, you got to try things on and see how they fit. And if they don’t work for you, then try it a different way. And, you know, keep what works.

Suzi: Yeah, keep what works and be curious. Right? And I think that is maintaining that curiosity, and whether or not it’s like, maybe, you know, will this style of yoga, be right up my alley, or I’m going to go into this yoga session without expectations. And I think that that’s, that’s really, that was a really good piece of advice. For people who are interested in, in trying to integrate meditation, or yoga into into their daily lives, it’s to help them become better people and better lawyers specifically. I agree. So I want to know, what is next for you.

Aman: In terms of beyond yoga for lawyers, or just generally,

Suzi: all of the above? What, Okay, what’s next for you that excites you? If personal or beyond yoga for lawyers or being a lawyer,

Aman: I think, right now, so I’ve had some requests. So my group yoga classes are live. So I do ask that people show up, I don’t record them just for privacy, and for, you know, safety reasons. So people can just feel like you can ask whatever you can do whatever. And it’s a safe space. But I have been asked by lots of lawyers who can’t make it to the one hour a week that I offer right now. And so I’m really excited to put together some video kind of on demand classes, which is basically a recreation of the eight weeks that I do, but I’m going to turn it into a video series. And I know that I know, by goal setting in the way that I work that I can’t do everything all at once I need to pack. And so this will be a future project, but it’s something that I think I’ll be able to help more lawyers with, and especially the ones who you know, can’t make it to the to the once a week classes that I have.

Suzi: So are you finding most of your attorneys that you’re working with? Are they based in Canada, or the US or just everywhere?

Aman: No. So the way that life happened, it’s that actually I joined some masterminds in 2020, that had me with lawyer entrepreneurs in the States. And again, which is why I felt like I’m like, Oh, my gosh, I’m like the only Canadian that’s here, like something wrong.

Suzi: We love our Canadians.

Aman  

Like, we’re the Canadian lawyers hanging out. So no, but I was so fortunate to meet a group of lawyer entrepreneurs who are either practicing and have the business on top of their law practice, or have transitioned out of the law and have a practice, have their own business that they started. And so I was able to connect with them through this mastermind and continue to mastermind with them. And they were able to share their connections with me. Some of them were, of course, they all actually are high achievers who are on boards and part of organizations. And so they’re like, I know this person, you can, you know, teach as part of that. And so I actually got my start from all of them.

Suzi: While your American lawyer I love it. Yes. So I would, I’d love to know, like, what would you love for the young female lawyer? That’s listening right now? Like, what would you tell her? Right? What little piece of guidance would you give her that you wish that you would have had a few years out of law school? Can I give to just one that was getting so funny, I’m sorry, I am like, I am like all about the dead. I am all over this point my life. No, please give us please give me to give us.

Aman: Yeah, and I think both of them I kind of touched on but I really think that they would have helped and the first one is surrounding yourself with people who are doing things differently that you are drawn to. Yes. Like for me, it ended up being things like The Life Coach School podcast, so that was a big part of that like mental shift for me like that mindset shift. Sure. Yeah. And financial independence was Another one that early on in my practice once I paid off all my student loan debt in that beautiful Mercedes, and I didn’t want golden handcuffs, financial independence was a huge community that I wanted to learn from, oh, I love that. 

Suzi: I think that’s amazing, right? Just leap surrounding yourself who, with with people who are living in a way in which you aspire to people that you emulate or want to emulate? I think that’s, that’s important. And I think it’s really kind of challenging, though, to do that as a young lawyer, because you’re working so much, and unfortunately, even your recreation time, which, you know, it’s kind of questionable when you’re just starting out. You know, it’s, I feel like the law firms just encourage, you know, let’s all hang out, you know, and I was always like, No, I don’t want to hang out with you all. Like, we, I come here to work, like, and that’s what I’m doing. I’m, I am your cog, and I’m putting out the work like, I am not interested in being your friends, you’re outside, right. But you know, it is really hard as a young lawyer, because that’s what you’re, you’re just immersed in it, you’re immersed in this in a certain lifestyle, and you’re, you start spending money commensurate with your, with your income growth, right? All of a sudden, you’ve got three kids and, and they’re all in private school. So, you know, I think that it’s really important thing, that’s such great guidance, you know, to just really think about that, like, is that what you want? Do you want the golden handcuffs? Like you that was never that wasn’t attractive to me. It just wasn’t. It wasn’t it wasn’t desirable, but but it is for so many people.

Aman: Yeah, but I see the stress on the people who have the golden handcuffs. And I’m not sure how long I would last in the practice. Like, I know that the golden handcuffs is why they keep showing up. But I’m just not sure like for me, I think the stress would just eat me alive.

Suzi: Right? It doesn’t matter how much yoga your bill an hour. An hour. Do yoga for an hour, right? I know I’m I feel this. I can’t imagine. You know, I hang out someone fishbowl? I’m not sure if you’re familiar with this platform. You should check it out. I think it’s owned by Glassdoor now, but you know, I am to take a look at big law like the big law fishbowl with our bowl within the fishbowl within fishbowl and women in law, and oh my gosh, you know, the complaint, just that. Just the trauma and drama that I see posted there, I’m like, Whoa, like, things haven’t really changed since I was a young lawyer, which was more than a couple of years ago, things haven’t really changed, you know? And a lot of that, is that, that stress that, oh, you know, decision making, you can see a lot of just just, you know, it just challenges with, do I have? Do we have the baby now? Do we wait till a partner? You know, all of that. And it’s, it’s interesting, because when I see these questions, I’m like, do these people not know that, like, they can make decisions, right? Like, they are not bound to anything, they can live whatever life they choose to live, at the end of the day, and they think they don’t write, they might think that they don’t have individual autonomy. But if you know, you’re, you’re a listener of The Life Coach School, Brooke Castillo, and I am to write and so I know that like, at the end of the day, we have, we can leave the job, we can walk out, right, but the decision is Do you Do you like the repercussions? You can? I think that her her example was she she realized that she could leave her children at the playground or something, something like that. And if you remember that, and it was so like an eye opening thing to her right that she had she can do. I mean, that gave her an element of freedom when she realized that like No, no, I don’t want to leave my children. But um, you know, my point is that I feel like so many attorneys who are really stuck and it doesn’t necessarily get easier as they continue to go it as they continue to practice law and a part of that is, you know, they’re they start spending more money just like they start making more money. And maybe, maybe it’s the situation where they’re not the the golden handcuffs. Maybe they’re okay with that. I mean, there’s two words in there right? Gold. Maybe the golden is so so gold that the handcuffs are, are okay. But it sounds like for you you’re like, Yeah, hell no, I’m not going to live my life this way.

Aman: Yeah, I think that if you can’t like I think it’s called you have to consciously decide. Yeah, and I think I was one of those people just you know, I became a lawyer and I was like, Well, I’ve made it. I’ve made it I don’t really like, this is what I work so hard for. Yeah, this is like I made it and like that’s it and what like, but then it became like, what’s next? And why am I not fulfilled? Why am I not feeling fulfilled at the end of the day, and for me, it was the variety, it lacked the variety and my own business and doing other ventures like on top of my law practice and being part of other creations and that’s what drives me and motivates me, and makes me love my practice my legal practice more because I’m able to do other ventures,

Suzi: you’ve been like the perfect guest for, for my audience, I think that there’s so much to learn from you, you know, making your own decision, having your own back, right, I think that’s so important. Where can you allow creativity to be present in your life, either in or outside of the law practice? And, you know, understanding that life is not about practicing law, like even when you quote unquote, made it. You know, like, I you know, I’m a partner in a big firm now, you know, people have their have different definitions of what what, you know, they think it made it means in terms of being a lawyer and practicing law. So I just want to thank you so much for hanging out with me and having this conversation. I think that it’s going to really resonate with a lot of people. I hope that people are inspired by it, I can’t imagine why they would not be. So where can people find you? I will put some links in the show notes. But I’d love for you to tell tell everyone, like, where you are in social and all that good stuff. Sure. So I

Aman: mostly hang out on Instagram. I’m in my stories quite a bit. So I might be on yoga for lawyers on Instagram. And then on LinkedIn, I’m more formal. So I just go by my first and last name. And then on Facebook. I have a private Facebook group that I’ve created for beyond yoga for lawyers. And so if you just search that up, you’ll find it and I will invite you it.

Suzi: Thank you so much for hanging out with me. This was so much fun. I learned a lot. Thank you so much.

Aman: And thank you for having me. It was a lot of fun.

Suzi: Thank you so much for hanging out with us today on legally bliss conversations. If you love this episode, and you want to hang out with other inspiring and light gold female attorneys, be sure to join the legally bliss community at legally blessed.com And be sure to follow me on Instagram at Suzan Hixon. See you next time.

aman costigan

Managing Stress Through Yoga with Aman Costigan

Season 1, Episode 008

In this episode of Legally Blissed Conversations, we are joined by Aman Costigan, practicing attorney and founder of Beyond Yoga for Lawyers.

Aman believes that lawyers are a unique group of people who can understand each other and relate to the stressors that come with being a lawyer in ways that non-lawyers cannot. 

Lawyer wellness is near and dear to her heart. She’s bringing awareness to lawyer wellness by sharing yoga and mindfulness practices that go beyond the forms of yoga and mainstream practices to promote relaxation, improve focus, and ways to be more present in daily life.

Shownotes

Website: https://beyondyogaforlawyers.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/aman-costigan-56b6994b/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/279416857025806/

Instagram: @beyondyoga_for_lawyersons_marisa

Transcript

DISCLAIMER: The following is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases, it is incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.

Suzi: I’m really excited to have with me today. Aman cos again, she is the founder and yoga teacher at beyond yoga for lawyers as well as a partner at the law firm of shores Jardine LLP. That’s in Canada, correct? That’s right, awesome. Law, your wellness is something near and dear to her heart. One of the ways she’s bringing awareness to law, your wellness is by sharing yoga and mindfulness practices that go be on the forms of yoga and mainstream practices to promote relaxation, improved focus and ways to be more present in daily life. She is passionate about sharing quick and easy ways to manage stress. The tools and techniques she teaches gives lawyers a toolkit of coping mechanisms and helps lawyers be less angry, less reactive and better listeners. I’m in practices law in Canada, where she practices primarily in the area of Professional Regulation. She offers a one hour virtual group yoga class exclusively to lawyers. The group yoga class runs for eight weeks. And the next session starts on January the 26th of 2022 through March 16, of 2022. And you can find out more about Aman and her offerings by visiting her website. And that’s beyond yoga for lawyers. And I will definitely have that in the show notes. Excuse me, I have a cough. Welcome here to the podcast. Amen. So happy to have you. Yeah.

Aman: Thanks so much for having me. Yeah.

Suzi: So I want to can you take me back? Just a few years to when you first started realizing the importance of integrating mindfulness and yoga into your law practice. I would I would love to know, kind of the origin story there.

Aman: Yeah, so it actually started eight years ago. So when I first started practicing law in 2012, but it didn’t really have the like, I didn’t really know or understand what was going on. Because I think back then, and 2012. And I think really up until about even 2018 I was just so disconnected with my own body. Like they’d be like, Oh, feel into your body, like listen to your body. And I’m like, I feel nothing. I feel nothing. I feel like nothing. Nothing’s happening. But I just kept showing up. So I have a two hour yoga class that I’ve been going to with my yoga teacher Anna, since 2012. Or sorry, 2013. Actually, yeah. And it actually started by a Google like search, I was looking for a yoga retreat. And I found her at this retreat. And I didn’t really think much of it. But it was like close to town. And it met kind of, you know, the budget constraints I had at the time. And so I showed up, and a lot of the people there were like, 1520 year students. And I was like, I want to know why, why you keep showing up? Why are you still here? Like, what what is happening, that you are still here. And so they all kind of shared their wisdom. And I’ve been going ever since regularly on Mondays for two hours a week. And it never, it didn’t really sink in, like what was happening. But I noticed that I was just showing up differently in a week where I had gone versus a week that I had missed.

Suzi: Wow. Wow. So what did that look like to you? When you say showing up differently? Like in what way?

Aman: Yeah, so I think part of it was even just like getting back. Like I have an example of I went to that retreat, and when I got home, I’m someone who always has to have like background noise. Like I always need to have like, you know, nowadays it’s a podcast, but at the time it was a radio. But when I got home I was like I’m okay being quiet with myself and with silence. Wow. Which you know, as lawyers if you have like, lots of thoughts, and a lot of them like worrisome thoughts. And so I was able to just be silent with myself and like listen to myself and like my thoughts at kind of calmed down like after that weekend. And then in terms of like my general practice, like, just because my class was on Monday nights, I noticed that I showed up like, less reactive. Like, whether it was an email with a colleague, another lawyer, if something got me kind of on edge, or you know, your forward leaning or you know, you want to react and respond, which is our automatic response, I was able to kind of intercept that and like, have that awareness to be like, Wait, is that how you want to respond? You know, and even in personal relationships, like with my husband, just how you want to show up and respond in those sorts of situations?

Suzi: So would you were the style of yoga that you initially started with the one that you’re I think you said you was about two hours every Monday night? Is that? Is that more of like a meditative kind of type of yoga? Or was it more physical movements, and I mean, I understand like, we can make them both work hand in hand, but what you’re speaking about right now really, like, exemplifies the importance of it with respect to your thinking, right, becoming more aware of your, of your own thought processes, taking a moment to pause, you know, or like saying, okay, you know, what, that email doesn’t have to go out right now. I can, like, sit on it for a little while. And oftentimes, we go back and rewrite those. But I’m curious, like, what about physical impacts, that that the that the yoga has had on your life?

Aman: Right. So you’re right, the yoga that the practice that I do, and that I teach now is a more relaxing, gentler yoga. So it’s, there’s quite a bit of meditative stuff that’s going on. So whether you’re in a pose, like you just hang out there a little bit longer. So it’s kind of more on the restorative side, but not as long like you’re not in poses for like 15 minutes are kind of hanging out for that amount of time. But it is definitely more on the relaxing, gentler side of things. Physically, it’s made a huge difference. So I’ve had ever since, I think, the last job in 2012, I’ve had really, I developed really bad back pain on my left side. And so it’s like this, like, I think it’s like, anyway, I have, I’ve gone to the doctor, they said go to physio. And you know, I’ve had some things like that, but it’s just this kind of tingly sensation, like up the my back. And I’ve noticed that yoga, like, if I go for that two hours a week, it really helps to ease and minimize some of the pain. And I think part of it is from sitting at a desk all day, standing or otherwise, I think part of it is wearing high heels for years. And carrying large bags, like usually my purse, right has like, so much stuff. And so I think all those things just added up together, and it’s created this, this back pain that I have. And so I’ve been able to ease a lot of that pain with that with the class, like that’s a physical experience that I’ve had, I also noticed that, you know, oftentimes our shoulders are up near our ears all the time. And so from the exercises that we do, I’m able to kind of just bring my shoulders down a little bit. And that just helps like the whole body

Suzi: as it does. So I’m curious, what are just like a few little things that we can integrate, as lawyers on a daily basis, right, like, maybe we maybe part of it is becoming more aware of, of our own thinking and our posture, right, like, Do you have any just guidance on just taking a moment in our daily practice to kind of check in with ourselves?

Aman: Yeah, I think like, I’m not one of those people who practices yoga every day. So that’s why I find it, I find it really hard to say like, oh, you should, you know, do an hour every day, because I’m not that person that just doesn’t work in the season of life, but I think I’m in or have been in. So I really try to watch myself when I come up with excuses, like for myself, or when I’m like, oh, I’ll just do it before bed. rarely ever happens. Unless I’m like, you know, really, I’m really on top of it. And so I really find that you’ve got to just find those two minutes. And if you’re a morning person, then maybe it’s in the morning. And if you finish something like rather than quickly moving to the next task, like maybe taking two minutes to pause there. And I really find like just even like hands on your chest. And just like sitting back closing your eyes. And you know that whole listen to your body and like feel what you can feel. Even if you feel nothing like just continuing to show up for yourself, like will eventually you will eventually connect and hopefully faster than, you know, my six, seven years.

Suzi: Because it’s totally fine. Right? Everyone’s kind of on a different journey. And what was when you started really integrating yoga. What was the reception like, amongst maybe your law firm in particular, but general attorneys in general

Aman: So I was actually really scared to tell anybody at my law firm that I started beyond yoga Fuller’s in January. So I didn’t tell anybody and very few of them. Still some people who don’t know. So I never told anybody and very few of them are on social media. And I go by beyond yoga for lawyers on Instagram. So, you know, unless you’re looking for that, you probably wouldn’t, unless you’re Googling me, you probably wouldn’t find it either. I’m obviously on LinkedIn. So it’s there. So a few people noticed from that. But I definitely kept it kind of within, like, I started slowly, slowly, right, like telling people because I started from a belief that I was doing something wrong. Why?

Suzi: Let’s talk about that. Yeah,

Aman: um, because everyone around me, or at least, you know, my belief was that everyone that I worked with and around me, and that I saw as lawyers were lawyers. And that was, that’s their identity. And I felt like, I had I had a career, I’m a lawyer, that’s what I do. And why am I trying to look to do things on top of that, like, people would ask me, like, your partner at a law firm? Like, why do you need to do you know, why do you need to do this business? Like, you’re not going to make any money? Nobody’s gonna come? Like, why are you doing this, you’re just adding stress. And, you know, like, you could just focus on, you know, your Billings. And I just, I just felt like, you know, from those sorts of comments, and you know, the thoughts in my own head that I had a judgment of others, like I was doing something that I shouldn’t have been doing.

Suzi: Okay, that’s fascinating. And I don’t, I get that, I get that, right. Like you see this mission like this other kind of thing you want to do. And at the end of the day, deep down, when many of us know that this is life is not about billable hours, right? Like, not all of us want the corner office in the big law firm with, you know, the leather bound books and oak desk, or whatever it is, right? Like, we’re not all of us want that. And some people just have such a hard time comprehending that. Not all of us fit inside this neat little like, what an attorney should look like kind of box. So what were your What was your response? In those situations? When people said that to you about, you know, why would you be doing this, like you make plenty of money as a lawyer, you should focus your time on billing. Yeah, what was your What was your? What’s your thought process? And what was your response? 

Aman: Yeah, I think part of it was my own inner work like that I had to do, it was accepting that I was different. And that I was okay with that. And that was hard. Because I tried for like, five, six years, you know, the first half of my practice to, to do law and want to write the book and want to do presentations on it. And, and now I’ve transitioned to a law that I really do enjoy, and I really do love my practice. But I think I’ve also enjoyed it more, because I’ve added on more things like beyond yoga for lawyers into my life, whereas I didn’t have that before. And so I think just accepting that about myself, and being okay, like, having my own back is what is what you hear out there. Right. And so that was one of the things like just being okay with being myself and accepting that for myself, because people are gonna judge like, people have comments, like, when I, you know, when I’ve done lots of things, people have opinions about what I’ve done, whether they think it’s good, or whether they think it’s bad, they’re gonna have an opinion every time. And so just accepting that people are going to have their opinions, and they’re going to have things to say about you. And you have to be ready to kind of, I think, be able to take what they say, listen, and do what you will with it. And for me, that was, you know, not letting it stop me from showing up.

Suzi: Mm hmm. I love that. So in your current practice, do you work with lawyers directly? I know that you have your online you know, your your online training, do you work with lawyers? Well, I know things are a little weird to you’re very well working from home, right? Like, we’re, you know, we’re in the middle of a pandemic. So do you even if you’re not doing it right now, do you foresee that you will do that like work with attorneys kind of want to, like within a corporate like atmosphere? Do you see I’m saying like, actually go in and, and work with them? Like, do we foresee that firms and it can be very different candidates to but would firms like compensate you to come in and work with them, like groups of attorneys at one time? Does that was that like something on their own? You know, or have you ever done that?

Aman: Yeah, it’s something. So I’ve done organizations before. So I do the group yoga classes that I do, which are eight weeks long. And then I also do one off like one on one, if you want to call it that for organizations, for law firms, and that sort of thing. And so that’s usually a customized, whether they want an hour or 45 minutes, I kind of do a class specifically for that group of lawyers. So I’ve done organizations, I haven’t done any law firms yet. But I do see that being part of it. And I think the yoga that I teach, when we’re eventually able to be in person, I think that there is great benefit to partner work to seeing it on other people. And so I think that, you know, one day in the future, that that will be something I’ll definitely integrate.

Suzi: One of these days, when we ever get back into the offices, right? But then it’s like, are people going to even really? Do people even really want to get back into the office and people are just like it, you know, pretty nice being in my yoga pants all day long, not just for yoga class?

Aman: Totally. Yeah.

Suzi: Okay, so I want to know what it’s like, along this journey to sort of have this really amazing balance, I’m sensing that you have, what was your biggest obstacle that you that you’ve encountered?

Aman: The first thing that’s coming to mind, because I think I’ve had quite a few. Because doing things differently, is hard. Especially when you and everybody that surrounds you, is doing it a different way. it’s been the judgment of others, I think, in the opinions of others, and what other people are gonna say about me what they’re gonna think about me the way I show up on social media, because you and I both know, people see you, but they might not necessarily, you know, say anything to you about it, right. But then they’re talking amongst their friends about you. And so I think, just being able to kind of get over that and like, continue to show up and go for that higher purpose in life. And really, that mission of helping others.

Suzi: Yeah, and leaning back into like, what your mission is, right? Because even if you do see like, some random off him hand comment, or you hear someone like, almonds doing this crazy yoga stuff, right? Like you, you can be like, okay, whatever, I can still lean back into the greater mission. Right? So it’s like, you can handle it emotionally at this point, because it’s sort of the Sticks and stones may break my bones kind of thing. But you know, that there’s a greater purpose in what you’re doing. And it’s not really just about you at this point. It’s about it’s your why. So what what is your why? Let’s take a quick pause for a message from my sponsor, prominent practice.

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Aman: I think at first so it first started with my empire freedom, which is something I came up with in 2009 TM. And I was like I freedom for me was something that I desire I crave in my life is freedom, the golden handcuffs when I’ve heard comments about that. I’m like, I do not want to be that person. Like, I need to be able to be free. Yes. Yeah. Like I need to be free because I don’t I can’t be stuck. Like I can’t. I can’t happen to marry.

Suzi: It’s scary. Yes, yes.

Aman: So going to the opinions of others, just for a moment. We bought two Mercedes when husband and I both lawyers and when we early in our careers. We both bought two Mercedes. And so people have lots of comments about when we bought two Mercedes, then bye, but that we sold both of our Mercedes for one vehicle, and then everybody had comments about the Oh, I’m

Suzi: sure they had even more comments right everyone hasn’t happened? Yeah.

Aman: So you just kind of got it, like people are gonna say what they’re gonna say. So you really got to connect back with your why and your higher purpose. And so I think that it started with my empire freedom and wanting to have my own business, like I wanted something that was my own, that there were no rules around, you know, had to be this length of a, you know, post, it had to be this long, you know, or short of a video and had to include these things like I just wanted to do my own thing. And that was kind of where it started. And that’s been successful. I’ve had really good lawyer reception to the group yoga classes and the yoga that I’m sharing, and even from non lawyers, who have been asking to join who I’ve had to say no to. But the bigger y for me has been now getting testimonials back, and feedback from lawyers who have done the Yoga with me. And that’s been I think my biggest joy is being able to see how it actually helps lawyers, they’re like, you know, that back breathing that you taught, I can do it anywhere, and it automatically and instantly calms me. And I’m like, yes.

Suzi: That’s yeah. So it seems like the yoga obviously, you know, physical movement, you know, helps you relax physically. Wow, like, that is just such an in depth. That’s such a deep statement there, isn’t it? No, but I guess my point, my point here is, when we see like the physical impacts of maybe movement, yoga, right, and then there’s like the mental yoga, and I’m always kind of like, interested in how they play together, how our physical bodies, right? impacts us mentally, and also how our mind works and how our mind impacts us physically. Like, like, for me, if I’m really stressed about something like my body tenses up. I think it I feel less like sensitive in some ways. It’s almost like an increased level of cortisol. I also feel like maybe there’s a lack of creativity. And I think that lawyers really need to. I mean, it’s my opinion that creativity in the practice of law, is a really good thing. I think that you mentioned that, right? Like how, you know, the, the practice of yoga can decrease stress, promote relaxation, which, in effect, could increase creativity? How do you see all of that playing in the practice of law? Particularly the creativity part? Yeah, I

Aman: think for me, like, I’ll just my own example. So when I go to my class, or I do a yoga, even if I do like a two minute meditation, again, I have no expectations, like, I think that’s important to make sure that you’re not being like, Okay, I’m going to go to yoga class, or I’m going to do yoga, or Do this five minutes, but I’m expecting, you know, this in return, I think it has to be a genuine connection within practice. And when you do do that, for me, the creativity could come on my files, so on legal files about things I had not even thought about doing, because I have that space. And I’ve had that quiet for those ideas to actually come through and be able to hear, you know, from my higher self, or from my intuition, or whatever you want to call it. And even for beyond yoga for lawyers, like all have ideas, like oh, you should do a post about, you know, this, or you should share about how you didn’t go to your grandmother’s funeral, and how you missed it, because you were too busy. And I’m like, oh, okay, so I like, you know, things come to me, that would ordinarily not if I didn’t make the space or the time to hear and be open for them.

Suzi: So that’s, I mean, not Yoga is not just about physical movement, right? It’s, it’s allowing that quiet space. You mentioned, really interesting word here. And it’s something that I’ve been really kind of pondering is where and duck maybe the question is, does and where would intuition have a place in the practice of law? In such a logical analytical type of career? Can we integrate tuition? Based on like, I don’t know. Yeah,

Aman: I’m trying to think I think I do use it. Maybe not consciously every time but I definitely like I’ll have a gut read like I you know, I think that gut reaction to a file or to another like opposing counsel, you know how this is going to go like, is this going to be a reasonable amicable relationship? Someone that I can trust that kind of thing, if I don’t know them, or is it not one Are you know, do I get the kind of spidey senses about things? Or, you know, am I getting the full information? Like the full picture? Like, I think I default to that to be like, you know, intuition like kind of, you know, kind of sensing in my body, like, what am I noticing about this that has me kind of on guard, and then I evaluated right, because not every, you know, fear or rest or concern is going to be something that, you know, I really should be worried about.

Suzi: I think that’s great, right, like, lean into that tuition and listen to it, but check in again, with yourself to make sure that it doesn’t really conflict with something that’s completely logical, I think.

Aman: Yeah, I think like, I’m all about experimenting. Yeah. You know, like, you got to try things on and see how they fit. And if they don’t work for you, then try it a different way. And, you know, keep what works.

Suzi: Yeah, keep what works and be curious. Right? And I think that is maintaining that curiosity, and whether or not it’s like, maybe, you know, will this style of yoga, be right up my alley, or I’m going to go into this yoga session without expectations. And I think that that’s, that’s really, that was a really good piece of advice. For people who are interested in, in trying to integrate meditation, or yoga into into their daily lives, it’s to help them become better people and better lawyers specifically. I agree. So I want to know, what is next for you.

Aman: In terms of beyond yoga for lawyers, or just generally,

Suzi: all of the above? What, Okay, what’s next for you that excites you? If personal or beyond yoga for lawyers or being a lawyer,

Aman: I think, right now, so I’ve had some requests. So my group yoga classes are live. So I do ask that people show up, I don’t record them just for privacy, and for, you know, safety reasons. So people can just feel like you can ask whatever you can do whatever. And it’s a safe space. But I have been asked by lots of lawyers who can’t make it to the one hour a week that I offer right now. And so I’m really excited to put together some video kind of on demand classes, which is basically a recreation of the eight weeks that I do, but I’m going to turn it into a video series. And I know that I know, by goal setting in the way that I work that I can’t do everything all at once I need to pack. And so this will be a future project, but it’s something that I think I’ll be able to help more lawyers with, and especially the ones who you know, can’t make it to the to the once a week classes that I have.

Suzi: So are you finding most of your attorneys that you’re working with? Are they based in Canada, or the US or just everywhere?

Aman: No. So the way that life happened, it’s that actually I joined some masterminds in 2020, that had me with lawyer entrepreneurs in the States. And again, which is why I felt like I’m like, Oh, my gosh, I’m like the only Canadian that’s here, like something wrong.

Suzi: We love our Canadians.

Aman  

Like, we’re the Canadian lawyers hanging out. So no, but I was so fortunate to meet a group of lawyer entrepreneurs who are either practicing and have the business on top of their law practice, or have transitioned out of the law and have a practice, have their own business that they started. And so I was able to connect with them through this mastermind and continue to mastermind with them. And they were able to share their connections with me. Some of them were, of course, they all actually are high achievers who are on boards and part of organizations. And so they’re like, I know this person, you can, you know, teach as part of that. And so I actually got my start from all of them.

Suzi: While your American lawyer I love it. Yes. So I would, I’d love to know, like, what would you love for the young female lawyer? That’s listening right now? Like, what would you tell her? Right? What little piece of guidance would you give her that you wish that you would have had a few years out of law school? Can I give to just one that was getting so funny, I’m sorry, I am like, I am like all about the dead. I am all over this point my life. No, please give us please give me to give us.

Aman: Yeah, and I think both of them I kind of touched on but I really think that they would have helped and the first one is surrounding yourself with people who are doing things differently that you are drawn to. Yes. Like for me, it ended up being things like The Life Coach School podcast, so that was a big part of that like mental shift for me like that mindset shift. Sure. Yeah. And financial independence was Another one that early on in my practice once I paid off all my student loan debt in that beautiful Mercedes, and I didn’t want golden handcuffs, financial independence was a huge community that I wanted to learn from, oh, I love that. 

Suzi: I think that’s amazing, right? Just leap surrounding yourself who, with with people who are living in a way in which you aspire to people that you emulate or want to emulate? I think that’s, that’s important. And I think it’s really kind of challenging, though, to do that as a young lawyer, because you’re working so much, and unfortunately, even your recreation time, which, you know, it’s kind of questionable when you’re just starting out. You know, it’s, I feel like the law firms just encourage, you know, let’s all hang out, you know, and I was always like, No, I don’t want to hang out with you all. Like, we, I come here to work, like, and that’s what I’m doing. I’m, I am your cog, and I’m putting out the work like, I am not interested in being your friends, you’re outside, right. But you know, it is really hard as a young lawyer, because that’s what you’re, you’re just immersed in it, you’re immersed in this in a certain lifestyle, and you’re, you start spending money commensurate with your, with your income growth, right? All of a sudden, you’ve got three kids and, and they’re all in private school. So, you know, I think that it’s really important thing, that’s such great guidance, you know, to just really think about that, like, is that what you want? Do you want the golden handcuffs? Like you that was never that wasn’t attractive to me. It just wasn’t. It wasn’t it wasn’t desirable, but but it is for so many people.

Aman: Yeah, but I see the stress on the people who have the golden handcuffs. And I’m not sure how long I would last in the practice. Like, I know that the golden handcuffs is why they keep showing up. But I’m just not sure like for me, I think the stress would just eat me alive.

Suzi: Right? It doesn’t matter how much yoga your bill an hour. An hour. Do yoga for an hour, right? I know I’m I feel this. I can’t imagine. You know, I hang out someone fishbowl? I’m not sure if you’re familiar with this platform. You should check it out. I think it’s owned by Glassdoor now, but you know, I am to take a look at big law like the big law fishbowl with our bowl within the fishbowl within fishbowl and women in law, and oh my gosh, you know, the complaint, just that. Just the trauma and drama that I see posted there, I’m like, Whoa, like, things haven’t really changed since I was a young lawyer, which was more than a couple of years ago, things haven’t really changed, you know? And a lot of that, is that, that stress that, oh, you know, decision making, you can see a lot of just just, you know, it just challenges with, do I have? Do we have the baby now? Do we wait till a partner? You know, all of that. And it’s, it’s interesting, because when I see these questions, I’m like, do these people not know that, like, they can make decisions, right? Like, they are not bound to anything, they can live whatever life they choose to live, at the end of the day, and they think they don’t write, they might think that they don’t have individual autonomy. But if you know, you’re, you’re a listener of The Life Coach School, Brooke Castillo, and I am to write and so I know that like, at the end of the day, we have, we can leave the job, we can walk out, right, but the decision is Do you Do you like the repercussions? You can? I think that her her example was she she realized that she could leave her children at the playground or something, something like that. And if you remember that, and it was so like an eye opening thing to her right that she had she can do. I mean, that gave her an element of freedom when she realized that like No, no, I don’t want to leave my children. But um, you know, my point is that I feel like so many attorneys who are really stuck and it doesn’t necessarily get easier as they continue to go it as they continue to practice law and a part of that is, you know, they’re they start spending more money just like they start making more money. And maybe, maybe it’s the situation where they’re not the the golden handcuffs. Maybe they’re okay with that. I mean, there’s two words in there right? Gold. Maybe the golden is so so gold that the handcuffs are, are okay. But it sounds like for you you’re like, Yeah, hell no, I’m not going to live my life this way.

Aman: Yeah, I think that if you can’t like I think it’s called you have to consciously decide. Yeah, and I think I was one of those people just you know, I became a lawyer and I was like, Well, I’ve made it. I’ve made it I don’t really like, this is what I work so hard for. Yeah, this is like I made it and like that’s it and what like, but then it became like, what’s next? And why am I not fulfilled? Why am I not feeling fulfilled at the end of the day, and for me, it was the variety, it lacked the variety and my own business and doing other ventures like on top of my law practice and being part of other creations and that’s what drives me and motivates me, and makes me love my practice my legal practice more because I’m able to do other ventures,

Suzi: you’ve been like the perfect guest for, for my audience, I think that there’s so much to learn from you, you know, making your own decision, having your own back, right, I think that’s so important. Where can you allow creativity to be present in your life, either in or outside of the law practice? And, you know, understanding that life is not about practicing law, like even when you quote unquote, made it. You know, like, I you know, I’m a partner in a big firm now, you know, people have their have different definitions of what what, you know, they think it made it means in terms of being a lawyer and practicing law. So I just want to thank you so much for hanging out with me and having this conversation. I think that it’s going to really resonate with a lot of people. I hope that people are inspired by it, I can’t imagine why they would not be. So where can people find you? I will put some links in the show notes. But I’d love for you to tell tell everyone, like, where you are in social and all that good stuff. Sure. So I

Aman: mostly hang out on Instagram. I’m in my stories quite a bit. So I might be on yoga for lawyers on Instagram. And then on LinkedIn, I’m more formal. So I just go by my first and last name. And then on Facebook. I have a private Facebook group that I’ve created for beyond yoga for lawyers. And so if you just search that up, you’ll find it and I will invite you it.

Suzi: Thank you so much for hanging out with me. This was so much fun. I learned a lot. Thank you so much.

Aman: And thank you for having me. It was a lot of fun.

Suzi: Thank you so much for hanging out with us today on legally bliss conversations. If you love this episode, and you want to hang out with other inspiring and light gold female attorneys, be sure to join the legally bliss community at legally blessed.com And be sure to follow me on Instagram at Suzan Hixon. See you next time.

aman costigan

Managing Stress Through Yoga with Aman Costigan

Season 1, Episode 008

In this episode of Legally Blissed Conversations, we are joined by Aman Costigan, practicing attorney and founder of Beyond Yoga for Lawyers.

Aman believes that lawyers are a unique group of people who can understand each other and relate to the stressors that come with being a lawyer in ways that non-lawyers cannot. 

Lawyer wellness is near and dear to her heart. She’s bringing awareness to lawyer wellness by sharing yoga and mindfulness practices that go beyond the forms of yoga and mainstream practices to promote relaxation, improve focus, and ways to be more present in daily life.

Shownotes

Website: https://beyondyogaforlawyers.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/aman-costigan-56b6994b/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/279416857025806/

Instagram: @beyondyoga_for_lawyersons_marisa

Transcript

DISCLAIMER: The following is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases, it is incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.

Suzi: I’m really excited to have with me today. Aman cos again, she is the founder and yoga teacher at beyond yoga for lawyers as well as a partner at the law firm of shores Jardine LLP. That’s in Canada, correct? That’s right, awesome. Law, your wellness is something near and dear to her heart. One of the ways she’s bringing awareness to law, your wellness is by sharing yoga and mindfulness practices that go be on the forms of yoga and mainstream practices to promote relaxation, improved focus and ways to be more present in daily life. She is passionate about sharing quick and easy ways to manage stress. The tools and techniques she teaches gives lawyers a toolkit of coping mechanisms and helps lawyers be less angry, less reactive and better listeners. I’m in practices law in Canada, where she practices primarily in the area of Professional Regulation. She offers a one hour virtual group yoga class exclusively to lawyers. The group yoga class runs for eight weeks. And the next session starts on January the 26th of 2022 through March 16, of 2022. And you can find out more about Aman and her offerings by visiting her website. And that’s beyond yoga for lawyers. And I will definitely have that in the show notes. Excuse me, I have a cough. Welcome here to the podcast. Amen. So happy to have you. Yeah.

Aman: Thanks so much for having me. Yeah.

Suzi: So I want to can you take me back? Just a few years to when you first started realizing the importance of integrating mindfulness and yoga into your law practice. I would I would love to know, kind of the origin story there.

Aman: Yeah, so it actually started eight years ago. So when I first started practicing law in 2012, but it didn’t really have the like, I didn’t really know or understand what was going on. Because I think back then, and 2012. And I think really up until about even 2018 I was just so disconnected with my own body. Like they’d be like, Oh, feel into your body, like listen to your body. And I’m like, I feel nothing. I feel nothing. I feel like nothing. Nothing’s happening. But I just kept showing up. So I have a two hour yoga class that I’ve been going to with my yoga teacher Anna, since 2012. Or sorry, 2013. Actually, yeah. And it actually started by a Google like search, I was looking for a yoga retreat. And I found her at this retreat. And I didn’t really think much of it. But it was like close to town. And it met kind of, you know, the budget constraints I had at the time. And so I showed up, and a lot of the people there were like, 1520 year students. And I was like, I want to know why, why you keep showing up? Why are you still here? Like, what what is happening, that you are still here. And so they all kind of shared their wisdom. And I’ve been going ever since regularly on Mondays for two hours a week. And it never, it didn’t really sink in, like what was happening. But I noticed that I was just showing up differently in a week where I had gone versus a week that I had missed.

Suzi: Wow. Wow. So what did that look like to you? When you say showing up differently? Like in what way?

Aman: Yeah, so I think part of it was even just like getting back. Like I have an example of I went to that retreat, and when I got home, I’m someone who always has to have like background noise. Like I always need to have like, you know, nowadays it’s a podcast, but at the time it was a radio. But when I got home I was like I’m okay being quiet with myself and with silence. Wow. Which you know, as lawyers if you have like, lots of thoughts, and a lot of them like worrisome thoughts. And so I was able to just be silent with myself and like listen to myself and like my thoughts at kind of calmed down like after that weekend. And then in terms of like my general practice, like, just because my class was on Monday nights, I noticed that I showed up like, less reactive. Like, whether it was an email with a colleague, another lawyer, if something got me kind of on edge, or you know, your forward leaning or you know, you want to react and respond, which is our automatic response, I was able to kind of intercept that and like, have that awareness to be like, Wait, is that how you want to respond? You know, and even in personal relationships, like with my husband, just how you want to show up and respond in those sorts of situations?

Suzi: So would you were the style of yoga that you initially started with the one that you’re I think you said you was about two hours every Monday night? Is that? Is that more of like a meditative kind of type of yoga? Or was it more physical movements, and I mean, I understand like, we can make them both work hand in hand, but what you’re speaking about right now really, like, exemplifies the importance of it with respect to your thinking, right, becoming more aware of your, of your own thought processes, taking a moment to pause, you know, or like saying, okay, you know, what, that email doesn’t have to go out right now. I can, like, sit on it for a little while. And oftentimes, we go back and rewrite those. But I’m curious, like, what about physical impacts, that that the that the yoga has had on your life?

Aman: Right. So you’re right, the yoga that the practice that I do, and that I teach now is a more relaxing, gentler yoga. So it’s, there’s quite a bit of meditative stuff that’s going on. So whether you’re in a pose, like you just hang out there a little bit longer. So it’s kind of more on the restorative side, but not as long like you’re not in poses for like 15 minutes are kind of hanging out for that amount of time. But it is definitely more on the relaxing, gentler side of things. Physically, it’s made a huge difference. So I’ve had ever since, I think, the last job in 2012, I’ve had really, I developed really bad back pain on my left side. And so it’s like this, like, I think it’s like, anyway, I have, I’ve gone to the doctor, they said go to physio. And you know, I’ve had some things like that, but it’s just this kind of tingly sensation, like up the my back. And I’ve noticed that yoga, like, if I go for that two hours a week, it really helps to ease and minimize some of the pain. And I think part of it is from sitting at a desk all day, standing or otherwise, I think part of it is wearing high heels for years. And carrying large bags, like usually my purse, right has like, so much stuff. And so I think all those things just added up together, and it’s created this, this back pain that I have. And so I’ve been able to ease a lot of that pain with that with the class, like that’s a physical experience that I’ve had, I also noticed that, you know, oftentimes our shoulders are up near our ears all the time. And so from the exercises that we do, I’m able to kind of just bring my shoulders down a little bit. And that just helps like the whole body

Suzi: as it does. So I’m curious, what are just like a few little things that we can integrate, as lawyers on a daily basis, right, like, maybe we maybe part of it is becoming more aware of, of our own thinking and our posture, right, like, Do you have any just guidance on just taking a moment in our daily practice to kind of check in with ourselves?

Aman: Yeah, I think like, I’m not one of those people who practices yoga every day. So that’s why I find it, I find it really hard to say like, oh, you should, you know, do an hour every day, because I’m not that person that just doesn’t work in the season of life, but I think I’m in or have been in. So I really try to watch myself when I come up with excuses, like for myself, or when I’m like, oh, I’ll just do it before bed. rarely ever happens. Unless I’m like, you know, really, I’m really on top of it. And so I really find that you’ve got to just find those two minutes. And if you’re a morning person, then maybe it’s in the morning. And if you finish something like rather than quickly moving to the next task, like maybe taking two minutes to pause there. And I really find like just even like hands on your chest. And just like sitting back closing your eyes. And you know that whole listen to your body and like feel what you can feel. Even if you feel nothing like just continuing to show up for yourself, like will eventually you will eventually connect and hopefully faster than, you know, my six, seven years.

Suzi: Because it’s totally fine. Right? Everyone’s kind of on a different journey. And what was when you started really integrating yoga. What was the reception like, amongst maybe your law firm in particular, but general attorneys in general

Aman: So I was actually really scared to tell anybody at my law firm that I started beyond yoga Fuller’s in January. So I didn’t tell anybody and very few of them. Still some people who don’t know. So I never told anybody and very few of them are on social media. And I go by beyond yoga for lawyers on Instagram. So, you know, unless you’re looking for that, you probably wouldn’t, unless you’re Googling me, you probably wouldn’t find it either. I’m obviously on LinkedIn. So it’s there. So a few people noticed from that. But I definitely kept it kind of within, like, I started slowly, slowly, right, like telling people because I started from a belief that I was doing something wrong. Why?

Suzi: Let’s talk about that. Yeah,

Aman: um, because everyone around me, or at least, you know, my belief was that everyone that I worked with and around me, and that I saw as lawyers were lawyers. And that was, that’s their identity. And I felt like, I had I had a career, I’m a lawyer, that’s what I do. And why am I trying to look to do things on top of that, like, people would ask me, like, your partner at a law firm? Like, why do you need to do you know, why do you need to do this business? Like, you’re not going to make any money? Nobody’s gonna come? Like, why are you doing this, you’re just adding stress. And, you know, like, you could just focus on, you know, your Billings. And I just, I just felt like, you know, from those sorts of comments, and you know, the thoughts in my own head that I had a judgment of others, like I was doing something that I shouldn’t have been doing.

Suzi: Okay, that’s fascinating. And I don’t, I get that, I get that, right. Like you see this mission like this other kind of thing you want to do. And at the end of the day, deep down, when many of us know that this is life is not about billable hours, right? Like, not all of us want the corner office in the big law firm with, you know, the leather bound books and oak desk, or whatever it is, right? Like, we’re not all of us want that. And some people just have such a hard time comprehending that. Not all of us fit inside this neat little like, what an attorney should look like kind of box. So what were your What was your response? In those situations? When people said that to you about, you know, why would you be doing this, like you make plenty of money as a lawyer, you should focus your time on billing. Yeah, what was your What was your? What’s your thought process? And what was your response? 

Aman: Yeah, I think part of it was my own inner work like that I had to do, it was accepting that I was different. And that I was okay with that. And that was hard. Because I tried for like, five, six years, you know, the first half of my practice to, to do law and want to write the book and want to do presentations on it. And, and now I’ve transitioned to a law that I really do enjoy, and I really do love my practice. But I think I’ve also enjoyed it more, because I’ve added on more things like beyond yoga for lawyers into my life, whereas I didn’t have that before. And so I think just accepting that about myself, and being okay, like, having my own back is what is what you hear out there. Right. And so that was one of the things like just being okay with being myself and accepting that for myself, because people are gonna judge like, people have comments, like, when I, you know, when I’ve done lots of things, people have opinions about what I’ve done, whether they think it’s good, or whether they think it’s bad, they’re gonna have an opinion every time. And so just accepting that people are going to have their opinions, and they’re going to have things to say about you. And you have to be ready to kind of, I think, be able to take what they say, listen, and do what you will with it. And for me, that was, you know, not letting it stop me from showing up.

Suzi: Mm hmm. I love that. So in your current practice, do you work with lawyers directly? I know that you have your online you know, your your online training, do you work with lawyers? Well, I know things are a little weird to you’re very well working from home, right? Like, we’re, you know, we’re in the middle of a pandemic. So do you even if you’re not doing it right now, do you foresee that you will do that like work with attorneys kind of want to, like within a corporate like atmosphere? Do you see I’m saying like, actually go in and, and work with them? Like, do we foresee that firms and it can be very different candidates to but would firms like compensate you to come in and work with them, like groups of attorneys at one time? Does that was that like something on their own? You know, or have you ever done that?

Aman: Yeah, it’s something. So I’ve done organizations before. So I do the group yoga classes that I do, which are eight weeks long. And then I also do one off like one on one, if you want to call it that for organizations, for law firms, and that sort of thing. And so that’s usually a customized, whether they want an hour or 45 minutes, I kind of do a class specifically for that group of lawyers. So I’ve done organizations, I haven’t done any law firms yet. But I do see that being part of it. And I think the yoga that I teach, when we’re eventually able to be in person, I think that there is great benefit to partner work to seeing it on other people. And so I think that, you know, one day in the future, that that will be something I’ll definitely integrate.

Suzi: One of these days, when we ever get back into the offices, right? But then it’s like, are people going to even really? Do people even really want to get back into the office and people are just like it, you know, pretty nice being in my yoga pants all day long, not just for yoga class?

Aman: Totally. Yeah.

Suzi: Okay, so I want to know what it’s like, along this journey to sort of have this really amazing balance, I’m sensing that you have, what was your biggest obstacle that you that you’ve encountered?

Aman: The first thing that’s coming to mind, because I think I’ve had quite a few. Because doing things differently, is hard. Especially when you and everybody that surrounds you, is doing it a different way. it’s been the judgment of others, I think, in the opinions of others, and what other people are gonna say about me what they’re gonna think about me the way I show up on social media, because you and I both know, people see you, but they might not necessarily, you know, say anything to you about it, right. But then they’re talking amongst their friends about you. And so I think, just being able to kind of get over that and like, continue to show up and go for that higher purpose in life. And really, that mission of helping others.

Suzi: Yeah, and leaning back into like, what your mission is, right? Because even if you do see like, some random off him hand comment, or you hear someone like, almonds doing this crazy yoga stuff, right? Like you, you can be like, okay, whatever, I can still lean back into the greater mission. Right? So it’s like, you can handle it emotionally at this point, because it’s sort of the Sticks and stones may break my bones kind of thing. But you know, that there’s a greater purpose in what you’re doing. And it’s not really just about you at this point. It’s about it’s your why. So what what is your why? Let’s take a quick pause for a message from my sponsor, prominent practice.

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Aman: I think at first so it first started with my empire freedom, which is something I came up with in 2009 TM. And I was like I freedom for me was something that I desire I crave in my life is freedom, the golden handcuffs when I’ve heard comments about that. I’m like, I do not want to be that person. Like, I need to be able to be free. Yes. Yeah. Like I need to be free because I don’t I can’t be stuck. Like I can’t. I can’t happen to marry.

Suzi: It’s scary. Yes, yes.

Aman: So going to the opinions of others, just for a moment. We bought two Mercedes when husband and I both lawyers and when we early in our careers. We both bought two Mercedes. And so people have lots of comments about when we bought two Mercedes, then bye, but that we sold both of our Mercedes for one vehicle, and then everybody had comments about the Oh, I’m

Suzi: sure they had even more comments right everyone hasn’t happened? Yeah.

Aman: So you just kind of got it, like people are gonna say what they’re gonna say. So you really got to connect back with your why and your higher purpose. And so I think that it started with my empire freedom and wanting to have my own business, like I wanted something that was my own, that there were no rules around, you know, had to be this length of a, you know, post, it had to be this long, you know, or short of a video and had to include these things like I just wanted to do my own thing. And that was kind of where it started. And that’s been successful. I’ve had really good lawyer reception to the group yoga classes and the yoga that I’m sharing, and even from non lawyers, who have been asking to join who I’ve had to say no to. But the bigger y for me has been now getting testimonials back, and feedback from lawyers who have done the Yoga with me. And that’s been I think my biggest joy is being able to see how it actually helps lawyers, they’re like, you know, that back breathing that you taught, I can do it anywhere, and it automatically and instantly calms me. And I’m like, yes.

Suzi: That’s yeah. So it seems like the yoga obviously, you know, physical movement, you know, helps you relax physically. Wow, like, that is just such an in depth. That’s such a deep statement there, isn’t it? No, but I guess my point, my point here is, when we see like the physical impacts of maybe movement, yoga, right, and then there’s like the mental yoga, and I’m always kind of like, interested in how they play together, how our physical bodies, right? impacts us mentally, and also how our mind works and how our mind impacts us physically. Like, like, for me, if I’m really stressed about something like my body tenses up. I think it I feel less like sensitive in some ways. It’s almost like an increased level of cortisol. I also feel like maybe there’s a lack of creativity. And I think that lawyers really need to. I mean, it’s my opinion that creativity in the practice of law, is a really good thing. I think that you mentioned that, right? Like how, you know, the, the practice of yoga can decrease stress, promote relaxation, which, in effect, could increase creativity? How do you see all of that playing in the practice of law? Particularly the creativity part? Yeah, I

Aman: think for me, like, I’ll just my own example. So when I go to my class, or I do a yoga, even if I do like a two minute meditation, again, I have no expectations, like, I think that’s important to make sure that you’re not being like, Okay, I’m going to go to yoga class, or I’m going to do yoga, or Do this five minutes, but I’m expecting, you know, this in return, I think it has to be a genuine connection within practice. And when you do do that, for me, the creativity could come on my files, so on legal files about things I had not even thought about doing, because I have that space. And I’ve had that quiet for those ideas to actually come through and be able to hear, you know, from my higher self, or from my intuition, or whatever you want to call it. And even for beyond yoga for lawyers, like all have ideas, like oh, you should do a post about, you know, this, or you should share about how you didn’t go to your grandmother’s funeral, and how you missed it, because you were too busy. And I’m like, oh, okay, so I like, you know, things come to me, that would ordinarily not if I didn’t make the space or the time to hear and be open for them.

Suzi: So that’s, I mean, not Yoga is not just about physical movement, right? It’s, it’s allowing that quiet space. You mentioned, really interesting word here. And it’s something that I’ve been really kind of pondering is where and duck maybe the question is, does and where would intuition have a place in the practice of law? In such a logical analytical type of career? Can we integrate tuition? Based on like, I don’t know. Yeah,

Aman: I’m trying to think I think I do use it. Maybe not consciously every time but I definitely like I’ll have a gut read like I you know, I think that gut reaction to a file or to another like opposing counsel, you know how this is going to go like, is this going to be a reasonable amicable relationship? Someone that I can trust that kind of thing, if I don’t know them, or is it not one Are you know, do I get the kind of spidey senses about things? Or, you know, am I getting the full information? Like the full picture? Like, I think I default to that to be like, you know, intuition like kind of, you know, kind of sensing in my body, like, what am I noticing about this that has me kind of on guard, and then I evaluated right, because not every, you know, fear or rest or concern is going to be something that, you know, I really should be worried about.

Suzi: I think that’s great, right, like, lean into that tuition and listen to it, but check in again, with yourself to make sure that it doesn’t really conflict with something that’s completely logical, I think.

Aman: Yeah, I think like, I’m all about experimenting. Yeah. You know, like, you got to try things on and see how they fit. And if they don’t work for you, then try it a different way. And, you know, keep what works.

Suzi: Yeah, keep what works and be curious. Right? And I think that is maintaining that curiosity, and whether or not it’s like, maybe, you know, will this style of yoga, be right up my alley, or I’m going to go into this yoga session without expectations. And I think that that’s, that’s really, that was a really good piece of advice. For people who are interested in, in trying to integrate meditation, or yoga into into their daily lives, it’s to help them become better people and better lawyers specifically. I agree. So I want to know, what is next for you.

Aman: In terms of beyond yoga for lawyers, or just generally,

Suzi: all of the above? What, Okay, what’s next for you that excites you? If personal or beyond yoga for lawyers or being a lawyer,

Aman: I think, right now, so I’ve had some requests. So my group yoga classes are live. So I do ask that people show up, I don’t record them just for privacy, and for, you know, safety reasons. So people can just feel like you can ask whatever you can do whatever. And it’s a safe space. But I have been asked by lots of lawyers who can’t make it to the one hour a week that I offer right now. And so I’m really excited to put together some video kind of on demand classes, which is basically a recreation of the eight weeks that I do, but I’m going to turn it into a video series. And I know that I know, by goal setting in the way that I work that I can’t do everything all at once I need to pack. And so this will be a future project, but it’s something that I think I’ll be able to help more lawyers with, and especially the ones who you know, can’t make it to the to the once a week classes that I have.

Suzi: So are you finding most of your attorneys that you’re working with? Are they based in Canada, or the US or just everywhere?

Aman: No. So the way that life happened, it’s that actually I joined some masterminds in 2020, that had me with lawyer entrepreneurs in the States. And again, which is why I felt like I’m like, Oh, my gosh, I’m like the only Canadian that’s here, like something wrong.

Suzi: We love our Canadians.

Aman  

Like, we’re the Canadian lawyers hanging out. So no, but I was so fortunate to meet a group of lawyer entrepreneurs who are either practicing and have the business on top of their law practice, or have transitioned out of the law and have a practice, have their own business that they started. And so I was able to connect with them through this mastermind and continue to mastermind with them. And they were able to share their connections with me. Some of them were, of course, they all actually are high achievers who are on boards and part of organizations. And so they’re like, I know this person, you can, you know, teach as part of that. And so I actually got my start from all of them.

Suzi: While your American lawyer I love it. Yes. So I would, I’d love to know, like, what would you love for the young female lawyer? That’s listening right now? Like, what would you tell her? Right? What little piece of guidance would you give her that you wish that you would have had a few years out of law school? Can I give to just one that was getting so funny, I’m sorry, I am like, I am like all about the dead. I am all over this point my life. No, please give us please give me to give us.

Aman: Yeah, and I think both of them I kind of touched on but I really think that they would have helped and the first one is surrounding yourself with people who are doing things differently that you are drawn to. Yes. Like for me, it ended up being things like The Life Coach School podcast, so that was a big part of that like mental shift for me like that mindset shift. Sure. Yeah. And financial independence was Another one that early on in my practice once I paid off all my student loan debt in that beautiful Mercedes, and I didn’t want golden handcuffs, financial independence was a huge community that I wanted to learn from, oh, I love that. 

Suzi: I think that’s amazing, right? Just leap surrounding yourself who, with with people who are living in a way in which you aspire to people that you emulate or want to emulate? I think that’s, that’s important. And I think it’s really kind of challenging, though, to do that as a young lawyer, because you’re working so much, and unfortunately, even your recreation time, which, you know, it’s kind of questionable when you’re just starting out. You know, it’s, I feel like the law firms just encourage, you know, let’s all hang out, you know, and I was always like, No, I don’t want to hang out with you all. Like, we, I come here to work, like, and that’s what I’m doing. I’m, I am your cog, and I’m putting out the work like, I am not interested in being your friends, you’re outside, right. But you know, it is really hard as a young lawyer, because that’s what you’re, you’re just immersed in it, you’re immersed in this in a certain lifestyle, and you’re, you start spending money commensurate with your, with your income growth, right? All of a sudden, you’ve got three kids and, and they’re all in private school. So, you know, I think that it’s really important thing, that’s such great guidance, you know, to just really think about that, like, is that what you want? Do you want the golden handcuffs? Like you that was never that wasn’t attractive to me. It just wasn’t. It wasn’t it wasn’t desirable, but but it is for so many people.

Aman: Yeah, but I see the stress on the people who have the golden handcuffs. And I’m not sure how long I would last in the practice. Like, I know that the golden handcuffs is why they keep showing up. But I’m just not sure like for me, I think the stress would just eat me alive.

Suzi: Right? It doesn’t matter how much yoga your bill an hour. An hour. Do yoga for an hour, right? I know I’m I feel this. I can’t imagine. You know, I hang out someone fishbowl? I’m not sure if you’re familiar with this platform. You should check it out. I think it’s owned by Glassdoor now, but you know, I am to take a look at big law like the big law fishbowl with our bowl within the fishbowl within fishbowl and women in law, and oh my gosh, you know, the complaint, just that. Just the trauma and drama that I see posted there, I’m like, Whoa, like, things haven’t really changed since I was a young lawyer, which was more than a couple of years ago, things haven’t really changed, you know? And a lot of that, is that, that stress that, oh, you know, decision making, you can see a lot of just just, you know, it just challenges with, do I have? Do we have the baby now? Do we wait till a partner? You know, all of that. And it’s, it’s interesting, because when I see these questions, I’m like, do these people not know that, like, they can make decisions, right? Like, they are not bound to anything, they can live whatever life they choose to live, at the end of the day, and they think they don’t write, they might think that they don’t have individual autonomy. But if you know, you’re, you’re a listener of The Life Coach School, Brooke Castillo, and I am to write and so I know that like, at the end of the day, we have, we can leave the job, we can walk out, right, but the decision is Do you Do you like the repercussions? You can? I think that her her example was she she realized that she could leave her children at the playground or something, something like that. And if you remember that, and it was so like an eye opening thing to her right that she had she can do. I mean, that gave her an element of freedom when she realized that like No, no, I don’t want to leave my children. But um, you know, my point is that I feel like so many attorneys who are really stuck and it doesn’t necessarily get easier as they continue to go it as they continue to practice law and a part of that is, you know, they’re they start spending more money just like they start making more money. And maybe, maybe it’s the situation where they’re not the the golden handcuffs. Maybe they’re okay with that. I mean, there’s two words in there right? Gold. Maybe the golden is so so gold that the handcuffs are, are okay. But it sounds like for you you’re like, Yeah, hell no, I’m not going to live my life this way.

Aman: Yeah, I think that if you can’t like I think it’s called you have to consciously decide. Yeah, and I think I was one of those people just you know, I became a lawyer and I was like, Well, I’ve made it. I’ve made it I don’t really like, this is what I work so hard for. Yeah, this is like I made it and like that’s it and what like, but then it became like, what’s next? And why am I not fulfilled? Why am I not feeling fulfilled at the end of the day, and for me, it was the variety, it lacked the variety and my own business and doing other ventures like on top of my law practice and being part of other creations and that’s what drives me and motivates me, and makes me love my practice my legal practice more because I’m able to do other ventures,

Suzi: you’ve been like the perfect guest for, for my audience, I think that there’s so much to learn from you, you know, making your own decision, having your own back, right, I think that’s so important. Where can you allow creativity to be present in your life, either in or outside of the law practice? And, you know, understanding that life is not about practicing law, like even when you quote unquote, made it. You know, like, I you know, I’m a partner in a big firm now, you know, people have their have different definitions of what what, you know, they think it made it means in terms of being a lawyer and practicing law. So I just want to thank you so much for hanging out with me and having this conversation. I think that it’s going to really resonate with a lot of people. I hope that people are inspired by it, I can’t imagine why they would not be. So where can people find you? I will put some links in the show notes. But I’d love for you to tell tell everyone, like, where you are in social and all that good stuff. Sure. So I

Aman: mostly hang out on Instagram. I’m in my stories quite a bit. So I might be on yoga for lawyers on Instagram. And then on LinkedIn, I’m more formal. So I just go by my first and last name. And then on Facebook. I have a private Facebook group that I’ve created for beyond yoga for lawyers. And so if you just search that up, you’ll find it and I will invite you it.

Suzi: Thank you so much for hanging out with me. This was so much fun. I learned a lot. Thank you so much.

Aman: And thank you for having me. It was a lot of fun.

Suzi: Thank you so much for hanging out with us today on legally bliss conversations. If you love this episode, and you want to hang out with other inspiring and light gold female attorneys, be sure to join the legally bliss community at legally blessed.com And be sure to follow me on Instagram at Suzan Hixon. See you next time.

aman costigan

Managing Stress Through Yoga with Aman Costigan

Season 1, Episode 008

In this episode of Legally Blissed Conversations, we are joined by Aman Costigan, practicing attorney and founder of Beyond Yoga for Lawyers.

Aman believes that lawyers are a unique group of people who can understand each other and relate to the stressors that come with being a lawyer in ways that non-lawyers cannot. 

Lawyer wellness is near and dear to her heart. She’s bringing awareness to lawyer wellness by sharing yoga and mindfulness practices that go beyond the forms of yoga and mainstream practices to promote relaxation, improve focus, and ways to be more present in daily life.

Shownotes

Website: https://beyondyogaforlawyers.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/aman-costigan-56b6994b/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/279416857025806/

Instagram: @beyondyoga_for_lawyersons_marisa

Transcript

DISCLAIMER: The following is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases, it is incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.

Suzi: I’m really excited to have with me today. Aman cos again, she is the founder and yoga teacher at beyond yoga for lawyers as well as a partner at the law firm of shores Jardine LLP. That’s in Canada, correct? That’s right, awesome. Law, your wellness is something near and dear to her heart. One of the ways she’s bringing awareness to law, your wellness is by sharing yoga and mindfulness practices that go be on the forms of yoga and mainstream practices to promote relaxation, improved focus and ways to be more present in daily life. She is passionate about sharing quick and easy ways to manage stress. The tools and techniques she teaches gives lawyers a toolkit of coping mechanisms and helps lawyers be less angry, less reactive and better listeners. I’m in practices law in Canada, where she practices primarily in the area of Professional Regulation. She offers a one hour virtual group yoga class exclusively to lawyers. The group yoga class runs for eight weeks. And the next session starts on January the 26th of 2022 through March 16, of 2022. And you can find out more about Aman and her offerings by visiting her website. And that’s beyond yoga for lawyers. And I will definitely have that in the show notes. Excuse me, I have a cough. Welcome here to the podcast. Amen. So happy to have you. Yeah.

Aman: Thanks so much for having me. Yeah.

Suzi: So I want to can you take me back? Just a few years to when you first started realizing the importance of integrating mindfulness and yoga into your law practice. I would I would love to know, kind of the origin story there.

Aman: Yeah, so it actually started eight years ago. So when I first started practicing law in 2012, but it didn’t really have the like, I didn’t really know or understand what was going on. Because I think back then, and 2012. And I think really up until about even 2018 I was just so disconnected with my own body. Like they’d be like, Oh, feel into your body, like listen to your body. And I’m like, I feel nothing. I feel nothing. I feel like nothing. Nothing’s happening. But I just kept showing up. So I have a two hour yoga class that I’ve been going to with my yoga teacher Anna, since 2012. Or sorry, 2013. Actually, yeah. And it actually started by a Google like search, I was looking for a yoga retreat. And I found her at this retreat. And I didn’t really think much of it. But it was like close to town. And it met kind of, you know, the budget constraints I had at the time. And so I showed up, and a lot of the people there were like, 1520 year students. And I was like, I want to know why, why you keep showing up? Why are you still here? Like, what what is happening, that you are still here. And so they all kind of shared their wisdom. And I’ve been going ever since regularly on Mondays for two hours a week. And it never, it didn’t really sink in, like what was happening. But I noticed that I was just showing up differently in a week where I had gone versus a week that I had missed.

Suzi: Wow. Wow. So what did that look like to you? When you say showing up differently? Like in what way?

Aman: Yeah, so I think part of it was even just like getting back. Like I have an example of I went to that retreat, and when I got home, I’m someone who always has to have like background noise. Like I always need to have like, you know, nowadays it’s a podcast, but at the time it was a radio. But when I got home I was like I’m okay being quiet with myself and with silence. Wow. Which you know, as lawyers if you have like, lots of thoughts, and a lot of them like worrisome thoughts. And so I was able to just be silent with myself and like listen to myself and like my thoughts at kind of calmed down like after that weekend. And then in terms of like my general practice, like, just because my class was on Monday nights, I noticed that I showed up like, less reactive. Like, whether it was an email with a colleague, another lawyer, if something got me kind of on edge, or you know, your forward leaning or you know, you want to react and respond, which is our automatic response, I was able to kind of intercept that and like, have that awareness to be like, Wait, is that how you want to respond? You know, and even in personal relationships, like with my husband, just how you want to show up and respond in those sorts of situations?

Suzi: So would you were the style of yoga that you initially started with the one that you’re I think you said you was about two hours every Monday night? Is that? Is that more of like a meditative kind of type of yoga? Or was it more physical movements, and I mean, I understand like, we can make them both work hand in hand, but what you’re speaking about right now really, like, exemplifies the importance of it with respect to your thinking, right, becoming more aware of your, of your own thought processes, taking a moment to pause, you know, or like saying, okay, you know, what, that email doesn’t have to go out right now. I can, like, sit on it for a little while. And oftentimes, we go back and rewrite those. But I’m curious, like, what about physical impacts, that that the that the yoga has had on your life?

Aman: Right. So you’re right, the yoga that the practice that I do, and that I teach now is a more relaxing, gentler yoga. So it’s, there’s quite a bit of meditative stuff that’s going on. So whether you’re in a pose, like you just hang out there a little bit longer. So it’s kind of more on the restorative side, but not as long like you’re not in poses for like 15 minutes are kind of hanging out for that amount of time. But it is definitely more on the relaxing, gentler side of things. Physically, it’s made a huge difference. So I’ve had ever since, I think, the last job in 2012, I’ve had really, I developed really bad back pain on my left side. And so it’s like this, like, I think it’s like, anyway, I have, I’ve gone to the doctor, they said go to physio. And you know, I’ve had some things like that, but it’s just this kind of tingly sensation, like up the my back. And I’ve noticed that yoga, like, if I go for that two hours a week, it really helps to ease and minimize some of the pain. And I think part of it is from sitting at a desk all day, standing or otherwise, I think part of it is wearing high heels for years. And carrying large bags, like usually my purse, right has like, so much stuff. And so I think all those things just added up together, and it’s created this, this back pain that I have. And so I’ve been able to ease a lot of that pain with that with the class, like that’s a physical experience that I’ve had, I also noticed that, you know, oftentimes our shoulders are up near our ears all the time. And so from the exercises that we do, I’m able to kind of just bring my shoulders down a little bit. And that just helps like the whole body

Suzi: as it does. So I’m curious, what are just like a few little things that we can integrate, as lawyers on a daily basis, right, like, maybe we maybe part of it is becoming more aware of, of our own thinking and our posture, right, like, Do you have any just guidance on just taking a moment in our daily practice to kind of check in with ourselves?

Aman: Yeah, I think like, I’m not one of those people who practices yoga every day. So that’s why I find it, I find it really hard to say like, oh, you should, you know, do an hour every day, because I’m not that person that just doesn’t work in the season of life, but I think I’m in or have been in. So I really try to watch myself when I come up with excuses, like for myself, or when I’m like, oh, I’ll just do it before bed. rarely ever happens. Unless I’m like, you know, really, I’m really on top of it. And so I really find that you’ve got to just find those two minutes. And if you’re a morning person, then maybe it’s in the morning. And if you finish something like rather than quickly moving to the next task, like maybe taking two minutes to pause there. And I really find like just even like hands on your chest. And just like sitting back closing your eyes. And you know that whole listen to your body and like feel what you can feel. Even if you feel nothing like just continuing to show up for yourself, like will eventually you will eventually connect and hopefully faster than, you know, my six, seven years.

Suzi: Because it’s totally fine. Right? Everyone’s kind of on a different journey. And what was when you started really integrating yoga. What was the reception like, amongst maybe your law firm in particular, but general attorneys in general

Aman: So I was actually really scared to tell anybody at my law firm that I started beyond yoga Fuller’s in January. So I didn’t tell anybody and very few of them. Still some people who don’t know. So I never told anybody and very few of them are on social media. And I go by beyond yoga for lawyers on Instagram. So, you know, unless you’re looking for that, you probably wouldn’t, unless you’re Googling me, you probably wouldn’t find it either. I’m obviously on LinkedIn. So it’s there. So a few people noticed from that. But I definitely kept it kind of within, like, I started slowly, slowly, right, like telling people because I started from a belief that I was doing something wrong. Why?

Suzi: Let’s talk about that. Yeah,

Aman: um, because everyone around me, or at least, you know, my belief was that everyone that I worked with and around me, and that I saw as lawyers were lawyers. And that was, that’s their identity. And I felt like, I had I had a career, I’m a lawyer, that’s what I do. And why am I trying to look to do things on top of that, like, people would ask me, like, your partner at a law firm? Like, why do you need to do you know, why do you need to do this business? Like, you’re not going to make any money? Nobody’s gonna come? Like, why are you doing this, you’re just adding stress. And, you know, like, you could just focus on, you know, your Billings. And I just, I just felt like, you know, from those sorts of comments, and you know, the thoughts in my own head that I had a judgment of others, like I was doing something that I shouldn’t have been doing.

Suzi: Okay, that’s fascinating. And I don’t, I get that, I get that, right. Like you see this mission like this other kind of thing you want to do. And at the end of the day, deep down, when many of us know that this is life is not about billable hours, right? Like, not all of us want the corner office in the big law firm with, you know, the leather bound books and oak desk, or whatever it is, right? Like, we’re not all of us want that. And some people just have such a hard time comprehending that. Not all of us fit inside this neat little like, what an attorney should look like kind of box. So what were your What was your response? In those situations? When people said that to you about, you know, why would you be doing this, like you make plenty of money as a lawyer, you should focus your time on billing. Yeah, what was your What was your? What’s your thought process? And what was your response? 

Aman: Yeah, I think part of it was my own inner work like that I had to do, it was accepting that I was different. And that I was okay with that. And that was hard. Because I tried for like, five, six years, you know, the first half of my practice to, to do law and want to write the book and want to do presentations on it. And, and now I’ve transitioned to a law that I really do enjoy, and I really do love my practice. But I think I’ve also enjoyed it more, because I’ve added on more things like beyond yoga for lawyers into my life, whereas I didn’t have that before. And so I think just accepting that about myself, and being okay, like, having my own back is what is what you hear out there. Right. And so that was one of the things like just being okay with being myself and accepting that for myself, because people are gonna judge like, people have comments, like, when I, you know, when I’ve done lots of things, people have opinions about what I’ve done, whether they think it’s good, or whether they think it’s bad, they’re gonna have an opinion every time. And so just accepting that people are going to have their opinions, and they’re going to have things to say about you. And you have to be ready to kind of, I think, be able to take what they say, listen, and do what you will with it. And for me, that was, you know, not letting it stop me from showing up.

Suzi: Mm hmm. I love that. So in your current practice, do you work with lawyers directly? I know that you have your online you know, your your online training, do you work with lawyers? Well, I know things are a little weird to you’re very well working from home, right? Like, we’re, you know, we’re in the middle of a pandemic. So do you even if you’re not doing it right now, do you foresee that you will do that like work with attorneys kind of want to, like within a corporate like atmosphere? Do you see I’m saying like, actually go in and, and work with them? Like, do we foresee that firms and it can be very different candidates to but would firms like compensate you to come in and work with them, like groups of attorneys at one time? Does that was that like something on their own? You know, or have you ever done that?

Aman: Yeah, it’s something. So I’ve done organizations before. So I do the group yoga classes that I do, which are eight weeks long. And then I also do one off like one on one, if you want to call it that for organizations, for law firms, and that sort of thing. And so that’s usually a customized, whether they want an hour or 45 minutes, I kind of do a class specifically for that group of lawyers. So I’ve done organizations, I haven’t done any law firms yet. But I do see that being part of it. And I think the yoga that I teach, when we’re eventually able to be in person, I think that there is great benefit to partner work to seeing it on other people. And so I think that, you know, one day in the future, that that will be something I’ll definitely integrate.

Suzi: One of these days, when we ever get back into the offices, right? But then it’s like, are people going to even really? Do people even really want to get back into the office and people are just like it, you know, pretty nice being in my yoga pants all day long, not just for yoga class?

Aman: Totally. Yeah.

Suzi: Okay, so I want to know what it’s like, along this journey to sort of have this really amazing balance, I’m sensing that you have, what was your biggest obstacle that you that you’ve encountered?

Aman: The first thing that’s coming to mind, because I think I’ve had quite a few. Because doing things differently, is hard. Especially when you and everybody that surrounds you, is doing it a different way. it’s been the judgment of others, I think, in the opinions of others, and what other people are gonna say about me what they’re gonna think about me the way I show up on social media, because you and I both know, people see you, but they might not necessarily, you know, say anything to you about it, right. But then they’re talking amongst their friends about you. And so I think, just being able to kind of get over that and like, continue to show up and go for that higher purpose in life. And really, that mission of helping others.

Suzi: Yeah, and leaning back into like, what your mission is, right? Because even if you do see like, some random off him hand comment, or you hear someone like, almonds doing this crazy yoga stuff, right? Like you, you can be like, okay, whatever, I can still lean back into the greater mission. Right? So it’s like, you can handle it emotionally at this point, because it’s sort of the Sticks and stones may break my bones kind of thing. But you know, that there’s a greater purpose in what you’re doing. And it’s not really just about you at this point. It’s about it’s your why. So what what is your why? Let’s take a quick pause for a message from my sponsor, prominent practice.

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Aman: I think at first so it first started with my empire freedom, which is something I came up with in 2009 TM. And I was like I freedom for me was something that I desire I crave in my life is freedom, the golden handcuffs when I’ve heard comments about that. I’m like, I do not want to be that person. Like, I need to be able to be free. Yes. Yeah. Like I need to be free because I don’t I can’t be stuck. Like I can’t. I can’t happen to marry.

Suzi: It’s scary. Yes, yes.

Aman: So going to the opinions of others, just for a moment. We bought two Mercedes when husband and I both lawyers and when we early in our careers. We both bought two Mercedes. And so people have lots of comments about when we bought two Mercedes, then bye, but that we sold both of our Mercedes for one vehicle, and then everybody had comments about the Oh, I’m

Suzi: sure they had even more comments right everyone hasn’t happened? Yeah.

Aman: So you just kind of got it, like people are gonna say what they’re gonna say. So you really got to connect back with your why and your higher purpose. And so I think that it started with my empire freedom and wanting to have my own business, like I wanted something that was my own, that there were no rules around, you know, had to be this length of a, you know, post, it had to be this long, you know, or short of a video and had to include these things like I just wanted to do my own thing. And that was kind of where it started. And that’s been successful. I’ve had really good lawyer reception to the group yoga classes and the yoga that I’m sharing, and even from non lawyers, who have been asking to join who I’ve had to say no to. But the bigger y for me has been now getting testimonials back, and feedback from lawyers who have done the Yoga with me. And that’s been I think my biggest joy is being able to see how it actually helps lawyers, they’re like, you know, that back breathing that you taught, I can do it anywhere, and it automatically and instantly calms me. And I’m like, yes.

Suzi: That’s yeah. So it seems like the yoga obviously, you know, physical movement, you know, helps you relax physically. Wow, like, that is just such an in depth. That’s such a deep statement there, isn’t it? No, but I guess my point, my point here is, when we see like the physical impacts of maybe movement, yoga, right, and then there’s like the mental yoga, and I’m always kind of like, interested in how they play together, how our physical bodies, right? impacts us mentally, and also how our mind works and how our mind impacts us physically. Like, like, for me, if I’m really stressed about something like my body tenses up. I think it I feel less like sensitive in some ways. It’s almost like an increased level of cortisol. I also feel like maybe there’s a lack of creativity. And I think that lawyers really need to. I mean, it’s my opinion that creativity in the practice of law, is a really good thing. I think that you mentioned that, right? Like how, you know, the, the practice of yoga can decrease stress, promote relaxation, which, in effect, could increase creativity? How do you see all of that playing in the practice of law? Particularly the creativity part? Yeah, I

Aman: think for me, like, I’ll just my own example. So when I go to my class, or I do a yoga, even if I do like a two minute meditation, again, I have no expectations, like, I think that’s important to make sure that you’re not being like, Okay, I’m going to go to yoga class, or I’m going to do yoga, or Do this five minutes, but I’m expecting, you know, this in return, I think it has to be a genuine connection within practice. And when you do do that, for me, the creativity could come on my files, so on legal files about things I had not even thought about doing, because I have that space. And I’ve had that quiet for those ideas to actually come through and be able to hear, you know, from my higher self, or from my intuition, or whatever you want to call it. And even for beyond yoga for lawyers, like all have ideas, like oh, you should do a post about, you know, this, or you should share about how you didn’t go to your grandmother’s funeral, and how you missed it, because you were too busy. And I’m like, oh, okay, so I like, you know, things come to me, that would ordinarily not if I didn’t make the space or the time to hear and be open for them.

Suzi: So that’s, I mean, not Yoga is not just about physical movement, right? It’s, it’s allowing that quiet space. You mentioned, really interesting word here. And it’s something that I’ve been really kind of pondering is where and duck maybe the question is, does and where would intuition have a place in the practice of law? In such a logical analytical type of career? Can we integrate tuition? Based on like, I don’t know. Yeah,

Aman: I’m trying to think I think I do use it. Maybe not consciously every time but I definitely like I’ll have a gut read like I you know, I think that gut reaction to a file or to another like opposing counsel, you know how this is going to go like, is this going to be a reasonable amicable relationship? Someone that I can trust that kind of thing, if I don’t know them, or is it not one Are you know, do I get the kind of spidey senses about things? Or, you know, am I getting the full information? Like the full picture? Like, I think I default to that to be like, you know, intuition like kind of, you know, kind of sensing in my body, like, what am I noticing about this that has me kind of on guard, and then I evaluated right, because not every, you know, fear or rest or concern is going to be something that, you know, I really should be worried about.

Suzi: I think that’s great, right, like, lean into that tuition and listen to it, but check in again, with yourself to make sure that it doesn’t really conflict with something that’s completely logical, I think.

Aman: Yeah, I think like, I’m all about experimenting. Yeah. You know, like, you got to try things on and see how they fit. And if they don’t work for you, then try it a different way. And, you know, keep what works.

Suzi: Yeah, keep what works and be curious. Right? And I think that is maintaining that curiosity, and whether or not it’s like, maybe, you know, will this style of yoga, be right up my alley, or I’m going to go into this yoga session without expectations. And I think that that’s, that’s really, that was a really good piece of advice. For people who are interested in, in trying to integrate meditation, or yoga into into their daily lives, it’s to help them become better people and better lawyers specifically. I agree. So I want to know, what is next for you.

Aman: In terms of beyond yoga for lawyers, or just generally,

Suzi: all of the above? What, Okay, what’s next for you that excites you? If personal or beyond yoga for lawyers or being a lawyer,

Aman: I think, right now, so I’ve had some requests. So my group yoga classes are live. So I do ask that people show up, I don’t record them just for privacy, and for, you know, safety reasons. So people can just feel like you can ask whatever you can do whatever. And it’s a safe space. But I have been asked by lots of lawyers who can’t make it to the one hour a week that I offer right now. And so I’m really excited to put together some video kind of on demand classes, which is basically a recreation of the eight weeks that I do, but I’m going to turn it into a video series. And I know that I know, by goal setting in the way that I work that I can’t do everything all at once I need to pack. And so this will be a future project, but it’s something that I think I’ll be able to help more lawyers with, and especially the ones who you know, can’t make it to the to the once a week classes that I have.

Suzi: So are you finding most of your attorneys that you’re working with? Are they based in Canada, or the US or just everywhere?

Aman: No. So the way that life happened, it’s that actually I joined some masterminds in 2020, that had me with lawyer entrepreneurs in the States. And again, which is why I felt like I’m like, Oh, my gosh, I’m like the only Canadian that’s here, like something wrong.

Suzi: We love our Canadians.

Aman  

Like, we’re the Canadian lawyers hanging out. So no, but I was so fortunate to meet a group of lawyer entrepreneurs who are either practicing and have the business on top of their law practice, or have transitioned out of the law and have a practice, have their own business that they started. And so I was able to connect with them through this mastermind and continue to mastermind with them. And they were able to share their connections with me. Some of them were, of course, they all actually are high achievers who are on boards and part of organizations. And so they’re like, I know this person, you can, you know, teach as part of that. And so I actually got my start from all of them.

Suzi: While your American lawyer I love it. Yes. So I would, I’d love to know, like, what would you love for the young female lawyer? That’s listening right now? Like, what would you tell her? Right? What little piece of guidance would you give her that you wish that you would have had a few years out of law school? Can I give to just one that was getting so funny, I’m sorry, I am like, I am like all about the dead. I am all over this point my life. No, please give us please give me to give us.

Aman: Yeah, and I think both of them I kind of touched on but I really think that they would have helped and the first one is surrounding yourself with people who are doing things differently that you are drawn to. Yes. Like for me, it ended up being things like The Life Coach School podcast, so that was a big part of that like mental shift for me like that mindset shift. Sure. Yeah. And financial independence was Another one that early on in my practice once I paid off all my student loan debt in that beautiful Mercedes, and I didn’t want golden handcuffs, financial independence was a huge community that I wanted to learn from, oh, I love that. 

Suzi: I think that’s amazing, right? Just leap surrounding yourself who, with with people who are living in a way in which you aspire to people that you emulate or want to emulate? I think that’s, that’s important. And I think it’s really kind of challenging, though, to do that as a young lawyer, because you’re working so much, and unfortunately, even your recreation time, which, you know, it’s kind of questionable when you’re just starting out. You know, it’s, I feel like the law firms just encourage, you know, let’s all hang out, you know, and I was always like, No, I don’t want to hang out with you all. Like, we, I come here to work, like, and that’s what I’m doing. I’m, I am your cog, and I’m putting out the work like, I am not interested in being your friends, you’re outside, right. But you know, it is really hard as a young lawyer, because that’s what you’re, you’re just immersed in it, you’re immersed in this in a certain lifestyle, and you’re, you start spending money commensurate with your, with your income growth, right? All of a sudden, you’ve got three kids and, and they’re all in private school. So, you know, I think that it’s really important thing, that’s such great guidance, you know, to just really think about that, like, is that what you want? Do you want the golden handcuffs? Like you that was never that wasn’t attractive to me. It just wasn’t. It wasn’t it wasn’t desirable, but but it is for so many people.

Aman: Yeah, but I see the stress on the people who have the golden handcuffs. And I’m not sure how long I would last in the practice. Like, I know that the golden handcuffs is why they keep showing up. But I’m just not sure like for me, I think the stress would just eat me alive.

Suzi: Right? It doesn’t matter how much yoga your bill an hour. An hour. Do yoga for an hour, right? I know I’m I feel this. I can’t imagine. You know, I hang out someone fishbowl? I’m not sure if you’re familiar with this platform. You should check it out. I think it’s owned by Glassdoor now, but you know, I am to take a look at big law like the big law fishbowl with our bowl within the fishbowl within fishbowl and women in law, and oh my gosh, you know, the complaint, just that. Just the trauma and drama that I see posted there, I’m like, Whoa, like, things haven’t really changed since I was a young lawyer, which was more than a couple of years ago, things haven’t really changed, you know? And a lot of that, is that, that stress that, oh, you know, decision making, you can see a lot of just just, you know, it just challenges with, do I have? Do we have the baby now? Do we wait till a partner? You know, all of that. And it’s, it’s interesting, because when I see these questions, I’m like, do these people not know that, like, they can make decisions, right? Like, they are not bound to anything, they can live whatever life they choose to live, at the end of the day, and they think they don’t write, they might think that they don’t have individual autonomy. But if you know, you’re, you’re a listener of The Life Coach School, Brooke Castillo, and I am to write and so I know that like, at the end of the day, we have, we can leave the job, we can walk out, right, but the decision is Do you Do you like the repercussions? You can? I think that her her example was she she realized that she could leave her children at the playground or something, something like that. And if you remember that, and it was so like an eye opening thing to her right that she had she can do. I mean, that gave her an element of freedom when she realized that like No, no, I don’t want to leave my children. But um, you know, my point is that I feel like so many attorneys who are really stuck and it doesn’t necessarily get easier as they continue to go it as they continue to practice law and a part of that is, you know, they’re they start spending more money just like they start making more money. And maybe, maybe it’s the situation where they’re not the the golden handcuffs. Maybe they’re okay with that. I mean, there’s two words in there right? Gold. Maybe the golden is so so gold that the handcuffs are, are okay. But it sounds like for you you’re like, Yeah, hell no, I’m not going to live my life this way.

Aman: Yeah, I think that if you can’t like I think it’s called you have to consciously decide. Yeah, and I think I was one of those people just you know, I became a lawyer and I was like, Well, I’ve made it. I’ve made it I don’t really like, this is what I work so hard for. Yeah, this is like I made it and like that’s it and what like, but then it became like, what’s next? And why am I not fulfilled? Why am I not feeling fulfilled at the end of the day, and for me, it was the variety, it lacked the variety and my own business and doing other ventures like on top of my law practice and being part of other creations and that’s what drives me and motivates me, and makes me love my practice my legal practice more because I’m able to do other ventures,

Suzi: you’ve been like the perfect guest for, for my audience, I think that there’s so much to learn from you, you know, making your own decision, having your own back, right, I think that’s so important. Where can you allow creativity to be present in your life, either in or outside of the law practice? And, you know, understanding that life is not about practicing law, like even when you quote unquote, made it. You know, like, I you know, I’m a partner in a big firm now, you know, people have their have different definitions of what what, you know, they think it made it means in terms of being a lawyer and practicing law. So I just want to thank you so much for hanging out with me and having this conversation. I think that it’s going to really resonate with a lot of people. I hope that people are inspired by it, I can’t imagine why they would not be. So where can people find you? I will put some links in the show notes. But I’d love for you to tell tell everyone, like, where you are in social and all that good stuff. Sure. So I

Aman: mostly hang out on Instagram. I’m in my stories quite a bit. So I might be on yoga for lawyers on Instagram. And then on LinkedIn, I’m more formal. So I just go by my first and last name. And then on Facebook. I have a private Facebook group that I’ve created for beyond yoga for lawyers. And so if you just search that up, you’ll find it and I will invite you it.

Suzi: Thank you so much for hanging out with me. This was so much fun. I learned a lot. Thank you so much.

Aman: And thank you for having me. It was a lot of fun.

Suzi: Thank you so much for hanging out with us today on legally bliss conversations. If you love this episode, and you want to hang out with other inspiring and light gold female attorneys, be sure to join the legally bliss community at legally blessed.com And be sure to follow me on Instagram at Suzan Hixon. See you next time.

aman costigan