Welcome to MyShingle’s series celebrating Woman-Owned and Mom-Owned Law Firms. This profile features Lauren K. Fyfe, an estate & family law attorney in San Diego, California.
What is your name?
Lauren K. Fyfe
Law School attended and year of graduation.
California Western School of Law, 2012
Name, location(s) and URL of Law Firm.
Fyfe Law Firm
San Diego, California (primary office), Satellite offices in Riverside, Fontana, and Ontario, California.
Summarize your work experience, if any, prior to opening your firm. Both as a lawyer or prior to becoming a lawyer.
Office manager, legal internships.
When did you start your firm?
Why did you decide to start your own law firm?
I’ve always like to call my own shots and make my own schedule. The one good thing about COVID is that we’re more flexible and virtual than ever. However, at the time, having to be in the office every day except the maximum of two-weeks out of the year was draining.
I worked pro bono cases when I was first licensed and became confident in my abilities. My first court appearance was a full-day trial. The bailiff in the courtroom told me after the trial he was very impressed which really boosted my self-confidence since it was the first time I’d ever appeared.
Shortly after, I worked very briefly for a larger law firm which was doing their clients a huge disservice in how they operated. I knew, even as a new attorney, I could provide a much better service because I would take the time to research issues and I cared.
What was the reaction you received from family, friends, colleagues, law school classmates, judges, etc…when you announced your decision to launch?
What practice areas does your firm concentrate on?
Non-contested family law matters, primarily premarital agreements and divorces with marital settlement agreements.
Estate planning- trusts & wills.
Trust & probate administration of estates.
What size is your firm?
1 attorney, 2 assistants, contract paralegals, and growing!
Do you practice full time or part time?
What makes your law firm unique and different from any other law firm in the world?
For those that I employ, I understand that we are all going through different things in life, mentally and physically. Work-life balance is important. Communication is key. Work the hours you want to work and are motivated to work. I hated being tied to a desk when I couldn’t think straight. I want to empower and respect others and what they’re going through.
How many children do you have and what ages are they?
2 girls- ages 1 and 3
Has becoming a mom influenced your decision to start or continue to operate your own law firm? If so, how?
I want my girls to not be afraid to take risks. You must be strong and believe in yourself. If you fail, it’s okay. The important thing is to not give up- keep going!
If you are married/living in a committed relationship with a partner, 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 is very supportive. He is sometimes a witness for my estate plans. He takes on a lot of the child caring duties when I’m trying to catch up on work.
What are the pros and cons of law firm ownership as a mom with respect to attaining work-life balance?
I create my own schedule. I have two kids who are not of elementary school age yet. There’s pick ups, drop offs, preschool events, illness. I have to have that flexibility, or I wouldn’t be doing this job.
What are the pros and cons of law firm ownership from a professional standpoint?
It’s obviously a great deal of work and responsibility. Sometimes things can feel overwhelming.
I worked through both pregnancies and was writing emails from the hospital bed after giving birth. There were times I wished I could take a maternity leave.
However, being able to turn away clients or matters that I don’t think would be a good fit has been key to my mental sanity. We’ve all had those clients that have dragged us through the mud.
I’ve also been able to carve out the types of cases I want. I practice family law, but not contested matters. There was a moment in time where I felt less-than for not taking on matters where there was litigation. However, now I feel it’s a real strength of mine to say no.
In your opinion, has the pandemic changed your colleagues’ attitudes towards parents – particularly moms – in the workforce?
I think people are more understanding of the enormous load us parents are carrying and the problems we face with childcare.
Please share a parenting mishap or embarrassing kid moment that another parent who practices can relate to
Children screaming in the background who woke up earlier than expected from a nap, bringing my daughter to an estate plan signing.
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 never felt less than being a woman until I was a new attorney. Judges and other attorneys would ask if I was old enough to be an attorney in front of my clients. Would they have said that to a man? Even still, even by women, I get asked how old I am. I’m an 8+ year attorney.
In your view, what role does law firm ownership by mom lawyers play in advancing gender equality in the legal profession?
We aren’t just assistants and paralegals anymore. We are just as capable.
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.
Just keep going. It takes time. If you work hard, are honest, and truly care, clients see that.