As a family law lawyer, Paris has found that her background as a mother informs her work with clients who are struggling to start their families. Starting her own firm, Gyemant Paris Law, has also given her the flexibility she needed to both balance raising her family with being able to work in her preferred practice area. To her, it’s important to be open to her colleagues about her kids, while still not using child-related activities as an excuse.
Quote: “I think work-life balance is a mis-nomer- it is a give-take. Owning a law firm, you are never really “off”, but you also have flexibility to hang out with your kids in the afternoon, or to ramp up or slow down…”
What is your name?
Anne Gyemant Paris
Law School attended and year of graduation.
UC Hastings 1998
Name, location(s) and URL of Law Firm.
Gyemant Paris Law San Francisco www.gpl.legal
How long has your firm been in operation?
Summarize your work experience, if any, prior to opening your firm. Both as a lawyer or prior to becoming a lawyer.
Worked on domestic violence issues and cases, including immigration related dv, restraining orders and family law. And 3 yrs as a products liability litigator.
Why did you decide to start your own law firm?
To enter a new area of practice and to have the flexibility to be with my kids when I need to be.
What practice areas does your firm concentrate on?
Family Formation – surrogacy, adoption & parentage
How large is your firm?
Do you practice full time or part time?
How many children do you have and what ages are they? 2 – 11 and 13.
Has becoming a mom influenced your decision to start or continue to operate your own law firm? If so, how?
It has influenced my decision completely – both to be near my children, to have flexibility as well as the area of law I practice. Being a mother informs my interactions with my clients as they are starting or struggling with starting their families.
What is your marital status?
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 husband has played a large role in supporting me. There is so much networking required that I couldn’t do if he wasn’t supportive of me being out in the evening or leaving early in the morning when I need to, and taking care of the kids during those times. He also provides a lot of emotional support and encouragement, and has never made me feel that my work is less important than his, even when I was first starting.
What are the pros and cons of law firm ownership as a mom with respect to attaining work-life balance?
I think work life balance is a mis-nomer – it is a give and take. Owning a law firm, you are never really “off,” but you also have flexibility to hang out with your kids in the afternoon, or to ramp up or slow down depending on their needs, and what is going on with the family.
What are the pros and cons of law firm ownership from a professional standpoint?
It was the only way to be able to work in my practice area, so there haven’t been career sacrifices, but definitely financial sacrifices.
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?
I’m more open with my colleagues about my kids. I share a bit about my kids with clients, but not a lot – and I almost never use child related activities as excuse. Only when a child is sick will I use it as an excuse. I think it affects how clients and many colleagues see you as a professional, particularly as women professionals.
What was your worst or funniest child-related scheduling mishap?
I think the worst is having to cancel meetings because the kids and I all got lice. So horrible. And you can’t tell anybody, especially if they don’t have kids or have very young kids, because they will never come near you. Three or fours hours a the de-liceing salon…
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?
No – I don’t think so. As a woman yes, but not as a mother law firm owner.
Would you recommend to other women lawyers who have children to consider starting a law firm – and what advice would you give them?
Teaching your children to stay quiet when you are on the phone with a client so they don’t hear the chaos of family life in the background! Today, you can keep in communication with your clients from the playground or while your kids are at sports practice, but you have to remember to leave it behind sometimes too.
If you can, share the name of (or if possible recipe for) one of your family’s most reliable, easy go-to recipes:
Chicken, beans, rice and corn. Cook chicken & rice ahead of time, cut up the chicken and cook it all together on low for about half an hour.
Links:You can find more Mom Owned Law Firm Interviews by clicking here.