I always knew I wanted to be a lawyer. I just didn’t hadn’t really known why – I simply believed that being a lawyer would give me the financial security I didn’t have as a kid growing up.
It turned out that law school was a natural fit with my love of reading, learning, writing, and analytical way of thinking.
But after law school, I was not prepared for the stress of working as an associate in a multinational law firm. Deadlines, billing pressures, corporate client demands, and long hours were the norm for the larger New York City law firms in the 1990s.
As were the mandatory 1,800 to 2,000+ billable hours a year, which presumes you’re billing eight hours a day every day, not including holidays and weekends.
So, I buckled down to 12-hour workdays, often working late into the night. At times, I made up hours on weekends and holidays. By the same token, associates were expected to be available 24/7 to meet deadlines often set by large corporate clients.
Anxiety became a way of life. I suffered from chronic stomachaches and headaches. For a while, I believed this was the norm, but after several years, I was exhausted and overwhelmed. Finally, just a few months before my wedding, I knew it was time to make a change.
I needed to know I was making a difference in the world and helping others in a meaningful way. I identified my values as connection, commitment, community, personal responsibility, and integrity. Right then and there, I decided to be guided by these values and embraced the next chapter of my life.
I left New York City and volunteered as an attorney for the local domestic violence legal advocacy program in New Jersey near our home. I found it incredibly rewarding to help clients secure final restraining orders from the court.
For the first time in my life, I experienced the joy of making a meaningful difference. When we were able to convince the court to issue a final restraining order, our clients often expressed sincere gratitude that they finally felt safe.
I opened my family law practice in 1999 so I could develop closer personal connections with each client and make a meaningful impact on their lives.
Having personally experienced my own parents’ bitter divorce as a teenager, I was committed to empowering parents with the knowledge and resources to make informed decisions about their lives and their children.
As my practice grew, I began to see that when the court imposes legal obligations in divorce, families are unable to make their own choices and create results. I saw how the unpredictability of a court’s decision compounded the fear and hurt that clients were already experiencing from ending their marriage. That’s when I dedicated my practice to helping clients reach divorce and post-divorce agreements more quickly at less cost, both financially and emotionally.
And what I’ve learned? My values continue to be my North Star on my now- clear path of facilitating human connection – now when we need it more than ever.