As a mom and step-mom, Heinrich has a nuanced view of motherhood that she channels in her work. Particularly, when practicing family law, she focuses on collaborative child-centered divorce, and has empathy for other parents in similar roles. Inspired by a legacy of small business owners in her family, she started her own firm, The Heinrich Firm, to have the flexibility to keep nontraditional hours and pump and nurse at her desk. To her, being a mom lawyer is about give-take–for example, knowing when clients need the space to focus on themselves, and when a mom example might be part of the solution they need.
Quote: “I feel that colleagues in large firms don’t always give solo and small firm lawyers credit. They have a staff to fix the computers, run the invoices, practice law. We often have only ourselves and sometimes an assistant. The work is satisfying and we don’t have to answer to anyone, but that doesn’t mean we’re less capable. I would actually argue that we are more capable!!”
What is your name?
Law School attended and year of graduation.
Salmon P. Chase College of Law, 2000
Name, location(s) and URL of Law Firm.
The Heinrich Firm, Newport, KY www.nkylawfirm.com
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.
I worked as a trial litigator in a consumer class action firm.
Why did you decide to start your own law firm?
I come from a family of small business owners and realized I wanted to control my own future, just like they did!
What practice areas does your firm concentrate on?
Family law. Adoptions. Personal injury.
How large is your firm?
Solo with staff
Do you practice full time or part time?
How many children do you have and what ages are they? 3. Ages 15, 12, and 8. Plus three grown stepchildren.
Has becoming a mom influenced your decision to start or continue to operate your own law firm? If so, how?
Absolutely. As a mom, I’ve become more and more of an advocate for collaborative divorce as well as utilizing other ways to be child-centered. At the end of the day, most parents aren’t going anywhere and are stuck with each other because of the kids. Knowing that upfront sometimes helps other moms and dads realize that the slash and burn method of divorce litigation only serves to screw up your kids.
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 spouse was married before and I helped raise three step kids. Coming in from the position of stepmom, and now Mom, has helped me understand how difficult those roles can be. My marriage is definitely helped by my line of work in some ways. On days when I’m feeling down, I usually find a moment to realize other people are struggling with much bigger problems.
What are the pros and cons of law firm ownership as a mom with respect to attaining work-life balance?
You get to nurse at your desk. That’s a pro… and a con. Seriously, the opportunities to keep nontraditional hours and go on long vacations are great. However, when the buck stops with you, it’s very difficult to ever really turn off and tune out.
What are the pros and cons of law firm ownership from a professional standpoint?
I feel that colleagues in large firms don’t always give solo and small firm lawyers credit. They have a staff to fix the computers, run the invoices, practice law. We often have only ourselves and sometimes an assistant. The work is satisfying and we don’t have to answer to anyone, but that doesn’t mean we’re less capable. I would actually argue that we are more capable!!
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 as open as feels right. Sometimes clients want me to focus on them and their needs and not talk about myself. Other times, there may be a Mom example that explains something perfectly.
What was your worst or funniest child-related scheduling mishap?
During a snow day my judge allowed my 5 year old to sit in the courtroom all day on the floor in a back pew during a child neglect and abuse docket. The only stipulation was that he would have headphones on so he couldn’t hear the awful allegations. He loved his day with Mom!
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?
Yes. Of course. Pumping while nursing and getting breaks to do so was a big one. Now that those days are over I’ve learned that no one needs or deserves my excuses. I just tell them I’m unavailable and move on.
Would you recommend to other women lawyers who have children to consider starting a law firm – and what advice would you give them?
Sure- just realize it’s your second marriage- and like a marriage, it has the potential for greatness or heartache on any given day.
If you can, share the name of (or if possible recipe for) one of your family’s most reliable, easy go-to recipes:
Brown ground beef on Sunday. Lots of it. Use it in spaghetti sauce on Monday, quesadillas on Tuesday and chili on Wednesday.
You can find more Mom Owned Law Firm Interviews by clicking here.