Welcome to MyShingle’s continuing series celebrating Woman-Owned and Mom-Owned Law Firms. This profile features Andrea Pierpoint, who just launched her Nashville-based firm six weeks ago! Andrea’s firm Pierpoint Legal currently handles court-appointed juvenile and criminal cases with plans to expand to family law and personal injury.
What is your name?
Law School attended and year of graduation.
Nashville School of Law, 2018
Name, location(s) and URL of Law Firm.
Pierpoint Legal, LLC
Summarize your work experience, if any, prior to opening your firm. Both as a lawyer or prior to becoming a lawyer.
I took a long and winding road to becoming a lawyer. I have a degree in Biology, which turned out to be not that useful for finding a job, so for many years, I did administrative jobs. I loved helping people, but I was always capped out on what I could earn. Before law school, I was a receptionist, tax accountant (I hated it), sales assistant, technology consultant, and a stay at home mom for 3 years. When I decide to go back to work, I asked around about office jobs where I could work part time. A friend told me that her husband was looking for someone to do filing at his law office and gave me the number to call. So I started working there, just working 20 hours a week for $10/hour, doing filing. I caught on quickly and started doing more tasks. When one of the paralegals went out on maternity leave, I filled her spot, and was a paralegal for 8 years total at the same firm. After I was there for 2 years, I decided that I wanted to go to law school. I took the LSAT with very little preparation, did decent, applied to law school, and got accepted. I had NO IDEA what I was getting into! After I passed the bar, I worked at the same firm, handling personal injury cases for about a year and a half. Due to COVID, I decided that my son and I needed to return to my small hometown so that we could be near family and so that he could be in school in-person. I didn’t know what I was going to do for work, but I just happened to see a posting that DCS was hiring right in my little town. I applied, got an interview, and accepted a position there. I worked at DCS for almost a year when I decided to leave to go work with a friend. That very quickly fell apart, and I found myself suddenly and unexpectedly unemployed. My spot was already filled at DCS so I couldn’t go back. I applied for firms from Memphis to Nashville and everywhere in between, but everyone wanted me to relocate, and that is not something that I am willing to do. So, at the end of January/early February of this year, I decided to start my own firm.
When did you start your firm?
Just about 6 weeks ago.
Why did you decide to start your own law firm?
Due to limited opportunities for employment in my area, and I also wanted to work for myself so I could control my own schedule, work from home, and still be able to be involved in my son’s life.
What was the reaction you received from family, friends, colleagues, law school classmates, judges, etc…when you announced your decision to launch?
My family is very apprehensive. I am the first of my family to even graduate from college, so they think I’m crazy to not have a steady paycheck and benefits. My friends, classmates, and colleagues are thrilled and very encouraging. So far, all of the judges and other attorneys that I have met in court are helpful and supportive and tell me that I’m going to do great!
What practice areas does your firm concentrate on? I am currently taking appointed cases in juvenile and criminal court. I also plan on doing personal injury and divorce.
What size is your firm? It’s just me.
Do you practice full time or part time? Full time.
What makes your law firm unique and different from any other law firm in the world?
I feel like my long experience with personal injury and my love for helping people makes me ideally suited for helping people that have been hurt in car wrecks, or who have found them in situations that they did not intend to be in. I’m compassionate and I really care. I want to see everyone win.
How many children do you have and what ages are they?
I have one son, and he is 13.
Has becoming a mom influenced your decision to start or continue to operate your own law firm? If so, how?
I wanted to be home for him more, and be able to go to school activities that I had to miss out on before. Also, since I am the first to go to college, I want him to see me as an example of how you can work hard and do great things.
If you are a single parent, have you faced any unique challenges in running your own practice and raising a family, and if so, please describe what they are?
So far, the biggest challenge has been finding work to do, and trying to remain calm and not freak out about not having an income. Appointed cases in TN don’t pay much, and they take a long time to get paid.
What are the pros and cons of law firm ownership as a mom with respect to attaining work-life balance?
The pros are that I can set my own schedule and be more present for my child when he needs me. It’s also good for him to see that we can do anything that we put our minds to. The cons are that it’s all me for now, and it requires a lot of juggling.
What are the pros and cons of law firm ownership from a professional standpoint?
For me, the biggest pros of owning my own firm are that I get to work when I want to, and where I want to. I’m also making money for myself, and not just getting paid a portion of the money that I bring in. The cons are that there are no guarantees.
In your opinion, has the pandemic changed your colleagues’ attitudes towards parents – particularly moms – in the workforce?
I think the pandemic changed attitudes for a little while, but now that things are starting to return to normal, all of the firms want their people back in the office. I enjoyed the freedom of working from home and I feel much more productive at home.
Please share a parenting mishap or embarrassing kid moment that another parent who practices can relate to
I have been in court and had to call my mother to go pick up my child from school because court was running later than planned. I’ve also had my child in the background doing his schoolwork while I was in a zoom mediation. Luckily, my client and the mediator did not mind.
Please share a story about an opponent or colleague who grossly underestimated you (whether due to youth, limited experience or just being a woman or parent) or an awesome victory that you achieved
I don’t have any yet because I’m too new, but I can’t wait.
In your view, what role does law firm ownership by mom lawyers play in advancing gender equality in the legal profession?
We show the world that moms are capable of wearing different hats and that we can be good moms and good businesspeople. It also shows the male-dominated firms that we don’t need them.
Let’s pay it forward – share your best advice or most powerful lesson learned with other woman mom lawyers who may be thinking about starting a firm or have started a firm but are going through a rough patch.
Do it! Even if you’re scared. Try to have a savings built up so that it’s not so financially stressful while you wait to get clients and get paid, but the freedom is worth it.