After being laid off in late 2009 and starting my own firm from home, it is hard to imagine everything that followed. In fact, despite any initial uncertainty, my law firm will celebrate its 10th anniversary in November of this year! Its growth has paralleled my own personal growth as a leader and lawyer. If there is one thing I have learned over the course of my career, it is that running your own immigration law firm while being a practicing attorney, raising a family, and having to stay up to date on the ever-changing landscape of immigration law, is not easy, but it is doable!
Two quick pieces of advice that may help readers:
First, fear paralyzes. You should not let fear dictate the decisions in your life or in business. Getting over that hurdle, which regularly confronts us, will reward you with a successful future, though we all define success differently.
Second, identify at least one mentor with whom you can cultivate a relationship. You’ll find as time goes by that you can both share wisdom and challenges.
AILA recently published my book about law practice management as a guide for immigration attorneys on principles and best practices to build and manage their firms. Over the years, I have pulled together much of that advice and the lessons I’ve learned to share with others. My ultimate goal is for this book to be a resource that helps new and current law firm owners navigate the complexities of law practice management, without losing their mind. I regret not having known the best practices I needed when I began, but through a lot of trial and error, blood, sweat, tears, and faith, I’ve solely managed a successful firm for 10 years with a staff ranging from 10-14 people and four attorneys.
A perfect example of applying both of those two pieces of advice I mentioned was when my husband’s career moved our recently expanded family to Dubai — only a year and a half after starting my law firm. I didn’t let fear of change paralyze me and I tapped into networks to find a mentor who could help me figure out how I could run a practice remotely. Instead of closing up shop, I rebranded and positioned my firm to take advantage of the situation by leveraging technology and increasing cases that didn’t require in-person representation. I wanted to continue my firm regardless of where I was living. In fact, in that time abroad, my firm actually grew and I was able to hire several staff so that when I returned to the United States seven years ago, we needed new office space to accommodate everyone!
Obviously, not everyone will be faced with an overseas move right after opening their practice! But with so many recent changes in the practice of immigration law, there has never been a more critical time for all immigration attorneys to leverage their expertise and work together. We need each other now more than ever. My hope is that my book leaves immigration attorneys with the confidence they need to be better business owners and managers, and to spend less time reinventing the wheel.
AILA members and other attorneys interested in this topic, I wanted to note that in addition to the book’s release, AILA is hosting the Law Practice Management Conference and Webcast on Thursday, October 17, in Washington, D.C with a book signing event at the end of the conference. As the conference chair, I could not be prouder of the lineup of speakers and sessions. Don’t miss out!