We continue with our third installment of the MyShingle profile series featuring Mom-Owned Law Firms — where we celebrate mom lawyers who have chosen to own, not loan their talent. Today, we profile meet Jen Lee, owner of Jen Lee Law a firm focused on bankruptcy and debt and credit issues with three office locations in Northern California. You can view our past profiles here.
Money Quote: I think firm ownership is a sign of professional success.
What is your name? Jen Lee
Law School attended and year of graduation. University of Richmond School of Law 2009
Name, location(s) and URL of Law Firm. Jen Lee Law. Offices in San Francisco, San Ramon, and Tracy, CA. www.jenleelaw.com
How long has your firm been in operation? 8 years
Summarize your work experience, if any, prior to opening your firm. .Both as a lawyer or prior to becoming a lawyer. No prior law experience. I was in management at AIG and was in the financial services industry prior to law school. Law is a second career for me.
Why did you decide to start your own law firm? No desire to work for anyone else.
What practice areas does your firm concentrate on? Debt and Credit Issues (more commonly referred to as bankruptcy)
How large is your firm? 2 attorneys
Do you practice full time or part time? Actual legal work is probably part time. I do a lot of marketing and networking.
How many children do you have and what ages are they? 2 girls – almost 4 and almost 2.
Has becoming a mom influenced your decision to start or continue to operate your own law firm? If so, how? Yes, I already had my own firm prior to kids. I like the flexibility and being a good role model for the girls.
What is your marital status? Married
If you are married, what role has your spouse played with respect to your practice and mutual family obligations and conversely, what impact has owning your firm had on your marriage and role as a mom? My spouse is Mr. Mom. He takes care of most of the kid duties after work hours, handles a lot of the household chores, and does a great job. We struggle a little bit sometimes because I am so busy working on my firm that we probably have the same struggles as more traditional families with mom trying to handle everything instead of dad.
What are the pros and cons of law firm ownership as a mom with respect to attaining work-life balance? I have a lot more flexibility. I control my schedule for the most part and I’ve gotten really good at setting boundaries with clients. It’s also hard for me because I’m so motivated to be successful that I can sometimes neglect family life when things are going really well at work.
What are the pros and cons of law firm ownership from a professional standpoint? I think firm ownership is a sign of professional success. I don’t think I could work for another firm, so it’s never felt like a sacrifice.
How open are you with colleagues and clients about your family? Do you tell them about your kids? Do you ever use child-related activities as an excuse for changing your schedule, and if so, are you open in sharing those reasons? Extremely open. The kids are a big part of my life and people like to do business with someone they know, like, and trust. Yes, I’ve had child-related issues to change my schedule, including sickness, trick-or-treating at school, etc. Honestly, I do not want to do business with someone who can’t understand putting family first.
What was your worst or funniest child-related scheduling mishap? Both of us were scheduled to work when the nanny was off. I ended up taking the kids to the office to play.
As a mother who owns a law firm, have you ever encountered discrimination from colleagues or judges or been taken less seriously or treated with less respect? How did you respond? I don’t think I’ve encountered discrimination from colleagues or judges for being a mom. If I have, it’s not something I recognized or even think to dwell on.
Would you recommend to other women lawyers who have children to consider starting a law firm – and what advice would you give them? Definitely. Set boundaries, have control of your calendar, get a good coach or two to help, don’t let anyone tell you that your way isn’t the right way.
If you can, share the name of (or if possible recipe for) one of your family’s most reliable, easy go-to recipes: We do a lot of tacos and pasta. Nothing fancy here.
Jen Lee is the owner of Jen Lee Law and can also be found on LinkedIn and Facebook. She is the author of the book Preventing Credit Card Fraud and teaches an online course for people trying to rebuild after financial disaster called Build My Fresh Start.
See more Mom Owned Law Profiles.