By Ally Kennedy, Founder of AMIGA
On December 17, my son Luis Enrique or “Quique,” was born. My world was forever changed and in completely unexpected ways. I had a renewed passion for life, business, and I felt intimately connected with every other woman who had ever gone through this beautiful, life transforming process of becoming a mother.
I quickly found that everything was different. I needed to reinvent how I handled my law practice so that I could maximize time with my new baby. I suddenly felt overwhelmed by the amount of things I was managing in my firm. I wanted to find resources for other women attorneys who were like me. In my search for other moms and women who were also trying to navigate life as a (new) mom, (immigration) lawyer, and business owner, I ended up on the most meaningful professional path of my career so far, which was the creation of AMIGA Lawyers.
I have learned a lot in this year as a mother and a solo practitioner and I continue to learn more every day. Here are my top tips for surviving and thriving as a mother and attorney:
1. Get Assistance
Let me let you in on a hard earned secret. You can't do it all on your own. It is not that you are incapable, but it is too much to burden yourself with. Between running phones, taking calls, doing the bookkeeping, running firm finances, managing cases, signing up new clients, filing taxes, making new appointments, preparing filings, AND on top of that being a new mom, it is simply too much.
I know it is scary to let go of the money to hire people to do what you believe you can do but it will be money well spent. It will ease your mind, alleviate anxiety, and allow you to enjoy those precious moments with your new baby. There are a lot of affordable tools that you can put into place that will make things so much easier. See some ideas here and here.
2. Be In Tune With Your Emotions
Post-partum hormones bring a lot of emotions to the surface, but more than anything being a new mother brings up emotions and feelings that you never felt before, or feelings that you feel more deeply than you ever imagined. Having a little baby made my work more emotionally difficult, which I did not anticipate. I found it much more difficult to hear the stories of extreme harm and abuse, even though I have been hearing them for my entire adult life. This tuned me in to the Secondary Trauma that is a very real part of the work that we do, and helped me put some important action steps in place to help guard myself and my emotions. Here I share a bit of what I have learned and tips on coping with Secondary Trauma.
3. Make Yourself a Priority
Managing work, a new baby, and a marriage (or intimate relationship) means a lot of time and energy that is being expended out of yourself. Of course this is time and energy that you want to give and are glad to share, but you are an important part of the equation. You have to make sure that you are filling yourself up. While at first it is hard to find time just for you on a daily basis, make sure you are doing things you enjoy whenever you can. One of the best pieces of advice I received was to try to do my hair and makeup as much as possible, especially in the beginning. It was something that made me feel "normal," and also more put together. I felt like when I spent time on myself, doing something that made me feel good, it helped me recharge my batteries so that the love could keep flowing out.
4. Become the CEO of Your Law Firm
As you may know, "become the CEO of your law firm" is my rallying cry. Before my son was born, I was very lasseiz-faire about running my firm. I enjoyed the work, got paid by most of my clients most of the time, and had the quality of life I wanted. (I was living mainly in Cabo San Lucas and coming back and forth for casework as needed.) I felt content with how things were going.
Then, things changed. A hurricane hit Cabo while I was 7 months pregnant and vacationing in the States for my baby shower. All that we had were our carry on suitcases and had to start over from here. Two months later, my son was born. It was time to get serious.
I decided that my firm isn't a passion project, it is a business, and it needs to be a successful business at that. Every moment that I spent at the office was a moment away from my baby, and if I was going to be away from my baby, then it needed to serve its purpose: providing for my family. That is when I developed so much of what has made my firm profitable to this day. Regular monthly billing, easy to use templates, training manuals, and more have changed my business completely. I still work continuously on streamlining my firm to do excellent quality work while implementing processes to make things easier, faster, and even better.
5. Join a Community for Support
As new moms, we need to surround ourselves with other mothers and women to help support us. There is so much to learn and so much to navigate. I have many beautiful friends and circles of women who supported me and still support me in this motherhood journey, but I still felt like I needed more. I was looking to find a group of women who were more internationally-minded, who may be bilingual and bicultural, who are professionals, who may have a non-traditional home situation (such as a husband who stays at home while the wife works), and so on. That is when I created AMIGA and found a community of like-minded women (would it sound too cheesy to call you my "soul sisters," because I see it that way?!), which has transformed the last 6 months of my time as a mother.
Find a place where you feel at home. Maybe a local PEPs group is your thing or a bar association for mothers has been meaningful for you. Of course, it is my sincerest hope that every mother immigration attorney in the country finds a home in AMIGA. Regardless of where you go, be sure that you feel supported, uplifted, and honored as you make your way through this exciting journey of being a mother and a lawyer.
What lessons have you learned as a mother and solo practitioner? Leave your comments below!
About your Ally in Life, Business and Law:
Alexandra "Ally" Kennedy is a national award-winning attorney and the founder of AMIGA Lawyers and Alexandra Kennedy Immigration Law.. After becoming a mother, and in a matter of 3 months, Ally transformed her practice from earning in pesos to earning 6-figures and she is passionate about teaching attorneys how they can do the same. Ally empowers lawyers to be the CEOs of their law firms with her weekly blog, webinars, and conferences where she teaches step-by-step how to do the work they love while running a profitable legal business. Ally lives outside of Seattle with her partner and their 5 children.