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Mom Owned Law Firm Interview with Nella Bloom

As the primary care-giver in her family, Bloom knows her practice Bloom & Bloom, LLC,  is vital to giving her the freedom to be present at home and design her schedule in a way that can accommodate her postpartum recovery. And while she has real worries about building her practice to be sustainable long-term, she’s proud of the hard-working example she’ll be setting for her children, and the way flexibility in her own practice has allowed her to be more flexible and present in her marriage.

Quote: “I have already achieved greater personal success than I did working for others. I am more motivated to build a client base, because I can choose my clients, and manage their matters as I think is best. I can self-direct and be authentic, and it tends to get me clients.”

What is your name?

Nella Bloom

Law School attended and year of graduation.

 Syracuse University College of Law, 2006

Name, location(s) and URL of Law Firm.

 Bloom & Bloom, LLC    https://bloomandbloomnet.wordpress.com/

How long has your firm been in operation?

 Since May of 2014

Summarize your work experience, if any, prior to opening your firm. Both as a lawyer or prior to becoming a lawyer.

 One year as a judicial clerk, six years in mid-size firm practice in and around Philadelphia

Why did you decide to start your own law firm?

 For enhanced flexibility, to start a new practice area, and because I didn’t want to switch careers entirely

What practice areas does your firm concentrate on?

 Small and emerging businesses; corporate bankrptcy; real estate

How large is your firm?

 One full time & one part time attorney

Do you practice full time or part time?

 Full time

How many children do you have and what ages are they? One 8-year-old and one 7 month old.

Has becoming a mom influenced your decision to start or continue to operate your own law firm? If so, how?

 Absolutely – I am the primary caregiver, and if I didn’t have my own practice, my family and I would be too pressed for time to manage daily tasks. And with the new baby I can design a practice that will accommodate my new schedule needs, my endurance post-baby, and my need to determine when and how I build back up to full-time work.

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 husband has been nothing but supportive, and for good reason. I have far more time to run the household and manage our lives on a daily basis, which neither of us really had when I was employed by a law firm. To help me build my business, he’s been flexible in doing childcare, even in emergencies (snow days, illness). The enhanced flexibility has benefited our marriage immensely, since it’s just easier to get everything done that needs to get done.

What are the pros and cons of law firm ownership as a mom with respect to attaining work-life balance?

 The cons are easier to start with, since they are fewer. I worry about not bringing in enough income, and I worry about building up the practice for the long term. The pros far outweigh the cons, and by far the largest pro is that my child can see me – a woman – building up a business, and can see that it’s hard but rewarding work.

What are the pros and cons of law firm ownership from a professional standpoint?

I have already achieved greater personal success than I did working for others. I am more motivated to build a client base, because I can choose my clients, and manage their matters as I think is best. I can self-direct and be authentic, and it tends to get me clients.

The biggest con is the lack of colleagues. For example, I’d like to learn a new practice area related to what I already do, but I feel it’s imprudent to teach myself without being mentored first.

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 am always open about having a family and having other obligations. I also do use child-related activities as a reason (not an excuse) to change my schedule. My clients understand since they have other obligations in their lives as well. I believe it’s not just honest when I say I have to take my kid to a lesson, so I can call later – it’s also reinforcing that I believe it is just as important to do mom stuff as to run my business, and that I believe that’s true for everyone – not just women, but men too. I believe it builds a more

What was your worst or funniest child-related scheduling mishap?

 My eight-year-old has been part of a fair number of client phone calls in the evening, though generally not as an active participant. Typically it’s a ‘hello!’ on a phone call to a client while I’m cooking him dinner. When I was working at a law firm, when certain partners called after hours, I did have a tendency to put the phone on speaker and then put it on a table in easy reach of the then-two-year-old kid, who would always pick it up and introduce himself.

My favorite story is that a general counsel client and friend of mine came over with his kids, so the three kids – all of whom were three or four years old – could play while we talked about his business. They ran upstairs and we chatted for a long time. Suddenly, we heard a bump and a scream, so we ran upstairs. All three kids were naked, and one of them had fallen off my bed after bouncing on it and cut his face. They were all sobbing. We bandaged him up, and eventually everyone stopped crying and got dressed. Then we had pizza for dinner.

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?

 Since having my own practice, I have never faced discrimination from clients, colleagues, or judges. But I was and remain very vocal about the differing obligations between men and women, fathers and mothers, while in law firms. I never stopped pointing out that while partners had wives at home doing the daily grind, I was that wife, my husband had the big corporate law job, so I was picking up the slack.

Would you recommend to other women lawyers who have children to consider starting a law firm – and what advice would you give them?

 Yes, I would recommend it, depending on two factors – their ability to bring in business and the type of practice. Some practices are more forgiving than others – a transactional practice is likely more flexible than a litigation-based practice. Also, I’d advise a woman with kids to be ready to prioritize differently as schedule conflicts come up. A kid’s doctor’s appointment might be too important to reschedule, so be ready to reschedule a networking meeting or lunch instead.

If you can, share the name of (or if possible recipe for) one of your family’s most reliable, easy go-to recipes:

 Beans and Greens. One bunch broccoli rabe, well-rinsed, dried, and chopped in 1-inch chunks (florets intact); one can dark red kidney beans, rinsed; one half-pound of dried pasta of your choice (shapes work well); five cloves of garlic, chopped fine; 2-4 tablespoons olive oil; salt and pepper to taste.

Heat the water for pasta. Preheat a soup pot at medium-low heat. When the pasta is added to the pasta water, check the soup pot. When it is hot, pour in 2 tablespoons of olive oil, coat the bottom of the pot, then add garlic and stir to avoid burning. When garlic is just cooked, add broccoli rabe and salt; stir and let steam until greens are small enough to add the kidney beans without overspilling the pot. Lower heat; add salt and pepper and 1 tablespoon olive oil if desired. Drain pasta per directions on the box without rinsing, then add to the beans and greens. Stir in and leave another 3-5 minutes, perhaps adding more olive oil. Remove from heat; serve with grated parmesan. This recipe reheats especially well.

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