It’s a glaring truth that many are waking up to.
Women experience different, difficult challenges balancing their personal & professional life in contrast to their male counter parts due to inherent gender norms and expectations.
Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, single-fathers experience similar disadvantages when it comes to managing the grueling demands of a professional career while maintaining the household responsibilities.
As the founder of Leave Normal Behind, I am always speaking with individuals who are influencing others in a positive way by inspiring them to become the best version of themselves, give back, love, create things that matter, and encourage others to do the same.
In this article I speak with Ally Lozano, a successful attorney who has built an 8-figure law practice on how she has found success in her industry. She shares advice on how women attorney’s can manage the challenges they face balancing their profession and maintaining their household responsibilities.
When Ally Lozano started her career as a lawyer, she was earning just $20K per year working for a firm. It was in those days that she started to see the difficulties female lawyers faced in climbing the ladder to financial success, especially while balancing family. She says it’s a common misconception that all lawyers are highly paid and that in fact, many are underpaid, especially females compared to male peers, and women face a daunting path to a highly paid position such as partner.
A moment of reckoning came when she was seven months pregnant and had just lost everything in a hurricane. She realized in that moment that she needed to take a risk that could lead her to financial independence. That risk, she decided, was quitting her firm to start a solo practice. She embarked on a steep learning curve of building her own business and soon realized that there were actually far more opportunities in practicing solo compared to working at the whim of a firm. Within four months as a solo lawyer, Ally reached six figures in income. Two years later, she had a thriving practice earning more than $1 million per year. Fast forward to today and her immigration law practice has recently broken $1 million per month.
Ally has also become a mentor to other female lawyers that she helps start their own law practices through a mastermind she hosts.
I sat down with Ally to learn more about the misconceptions about lawyers and money and how other female lawyers can take a similar path to financial freedom.
Enjoy our chat below !
What was your experience like starting out as an attorney?
Ally Lozano: The first interview I had was with an experienced male attorney in the field in which I wanted to practice. In the interview he told me that I would be lucky to get a job making partners coffee and making copies, despite the fact that I graduated law school with honors and had many other credentials. That shook my confidence.
I found a job doing work that I cared about deeply, but as a new attorney, you feel like you don’t know anything and are constantly second-guessing yourself. Everything is simultaneously thrilling and unnerving.
What are the unique challenges female attorneys face in building a career?
AL: Female attorneys face a dual challenge in building a career: finding a place in a male-dominated profession as well as societal pressure to be the one in charge of the home. This creates a push/ pull for women because we are fighting hard to create our careers and a name for ourselves and at the same time, many of us are pulled / slowed down by the roles that we are required to play in the home. Most professional women are still considered the “default parent”- in charge of everything for the children (schooling, extracurricular activities, and health care) as well as home management (laundry, meals, cleaning, etc). This is an experience unique to women. Men are often supported in their careers by a woman who manages the home- even if the woman is a professional as well. It gives men much more space to expand and grow while simultaneously slowing women down.
Does being an attorney in and of itself put someone on a path to wealth?
AL: Absolutely not. I always say that I do not know how attorneys have the reputation of being money hungry since most lawyers I know are severely under-earning, earning even less than servers in restaurants.
That being said, being an attorney can become a path to wealth creation if you choose to make it that way. For example, opening a law firm and running it like a business is an incredible way to create wealth as well as freedom in one’s schedule and life.
What are the pros and cons of working for a firm vs. breaking out on your own?
AL: Working in a firm is great in order to gain experience in the area of law you want to practice. It allows you to learn (and make mistakes) under someone else’s guidance. I think it’s the best way to start gaining experience if at all possible.
That being said, opening your own law firm is the key to unlocking a practice and life that you truly love. You can take the cases that you want and do work that you really love while setting your own schedule. Plus, in a firm, there is essentially a “price on your head” of how much you are “worth.” When you have your own firm, your earnings are limitless.
What is the biggest challenge faced when starting your own solo practice?
AL: The biggest challenge I faced when starting my practice is that I had no idea how to run a business. When I started, I was earning $20-30,000 a year. I had no clue how to manage money, do marketing, the importance of sales, or anything else. I believed that a law firm was the conduit through which I could do the work that I loved.
However, once I began to think like a businesswoman, things turned around quickly. Within four months I was on track to 6-figures, and in two years I broke 7-figures and it has continued to grow from there. Every dollar earned is a life that has been touched, and the better business I run, the more lives I can change.
What are the common traits you see among your students who reach the most success?
AL: The women who have the most success in my Mastermind and other programs reach the highest level because they share two qualities:
1. a strong mindset
2. consistency in actions
They may doubt themselves at times, but they have the right mindset to work through any sort of limiting beliefs and fear of the unknown. This is not easy to do!
It is a skill that they develop and harness. Also, they show up consistently for their businesses. They create videos, do lives, and sharpen their business skills. They do not make excuses for why they can’t or won’t do something. They are committed to the consistency of actions which leads to consistency in results.
What is your advice for a young female lawyer starting out who wants to set herself up for success?
AL: As lawyers we have been trained to see everyone as competition and as a threat, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Find a group of women lawyers who are dedicated to lifting up other women and seeing them succeed. This is mandatory in my mastermind and other programs.
We are all cheering for one another’s success.
Ally shares some good advice around mindset and staying consistent. If you apply both principles you will build more momentum in your practice.
Despite the challenges, you can overcome obstacles by finding a supportive group of individuals who can give you networking opportunities and industry expertise to guide you along the path.
Do not hesitate to reach out to someone that can lift you up, all you need to do is come correct and offer what you can in exchange for what you need.