Showcasing Freedom presents an article written by: Miriam Airington-Fisher.
I call myself an accidental entrepreneur because I never intended to be a business owner, and today I run a 7-figure law firm! For as long as I can remember, I dreamed of being a lawyer – a trial lawyer, like in the movies. For several years after law school, I worked hard as an associate attorney for a criminal defense firm. It was exactly what I’d hoped it would be, and I learned a lot and truly enjoyed it. The long hours, stressful cases, demanding clients – it was all worth it, because I was doing meaningful work that I loved.
In 2016, I became a first-time mom, and I got a divorce. Suddenly, working around the clock was no longer an option. I had a baby to care for, and I needed to support myself. I wanted to continue practicing law, but I knew that I could no longer continue at the same pace and work schedule. I loved what I did, but the old system no longer worked with my personal life and family responsibilities. Although I didn’t have a clear business plan or any capital saved, the one thing I knew was that I needed to figure things out from the driver’s seat. I resigned from my firm, hung a shingle, and went about the business of learning how to run a law firm. The early years were a humbling learning experience. I quickly realized I knew absolutely nothing about running a business! At that point, I was pretty confident as a lawyer, but being a lawyer and running a law firm are two very different things.
Through trial and error, I learned the basics of business management, from financings to building systems to marketing to hiring and firing. Not only was I building a business from the ground up, but I was doing this all while raising a family! This year, I published a book – Mom’s A Lawyer: How to Start a Firm and Take Control of Your Life – as a guide to what I wish I knew when I started out. When I started my firm, I saw being a mom as a limitation. As a single mom, I had a finite number of hours to my work day – the hours my daughter was in daycare. When she was sick, or when daycare was closed, I had no back up. Starting and running a business is challenging enough, but being a parent with childcare responsibilities adds a unique challenge.
Looking back, I realize that being a mom was actually my superpower. I didn’t have a bunch of capital to start my practice, and I couldn’t devote myself 24/7 to the firm. I needed to run my business, make money, and have the time and attention to devote to my daughter. Today – married with three children and running a 7-figure law firm – I largely credit my firm’s success to the efficiency, innovation, and creativity that I had to have as a a working mom. The key to having true work-life balance – a successful career and an enjoyable personal life – requires delegation, teamwork, and efficiency. Lawyers are notorious workaholics, and no one works harder than entrepreneurs. As a mom, I know that my time with my family is precious, and my kids need the best version of me.
To balance these two side of my life, I have built a law firm that can efficiently and effectively handle cases through a team-based approach to ensure that everyone in our firm is operating to their full potential and no one (including me) is working around the clock. We have enough people on our team so that no one is overwhelmed. To do this while still managing our operating costs and remaining profitable requires delegation, scaling, and a creative approach to hiring. Virtual assistants have been critical to our success.
I began working with Get Staffed Up in January 2020, and this was a significant turning point in our firm. At the time, I had no way of knowing what was to come in March 2020 – when our physical office was forced to temporarily close, and overnight we turned into a virtual firm and worked hard to keep operating under trying times. Initially, I was looking for a cost-effective way to expand our bilingual team. Over the past 3 years, I have utilized virtual staffers to handle reception, intake, client communication, and administrative support.
Today, we operate from our physical headquarters in Richmond, Virginia and combine in-office and virtual team members to maximize efficiency, quality of work, and the client experience. I believe women – especially moms – are natural entrepreneurs. Starting my own firm may have been done out of necessity, but today I can’t imagine doing anything else. As we continue to grow, I will remain true to our firm culture of combining excellent client service and a balanced lifestyle for our team members. Virtual staffers are a critical component of our firm, and help support the life-changing work we do for our clients. For more tips on how to run a profitable and family-friendly law firm, follow me @moms_a_lawyer and check out www.momsalawyer.com.
Article written by: Miriam Airington-Fisher
Contact Miriam Airington-Fisher