We are getting ready for Mother’s Day Weekend and I am hoping to spend Sunday being waited on hand and foot by my girls and my husband … or at least getting out of doing the laundry. But I am also reflecting on my mom and on being a mom and thinking about all of the mommas who have impacted me both personally and as a lawyer.
It feels like a cliché to say, “I would not be where I am today without my mom.” But sometimes phrases become cliché because they are universally true. I am not going to list all of the times my mom picked me up or pushed me forward or believed in me—there are too many. She forced me to go to college, encouraged me to go to law school and when the time came, to open my own law firm. When fear of failure held me back, she pushed and pushed with her relentless belief in both me and my idea of a different kind of law firm. She even came out of retirement to be the business manager at this firm, even though she is a bit over qualified.
And becoming a mom, well that has had a tremendous impact on the kind of lawyer I am too. When I first started practicing law, I saw my personal life and professional life as completely separate. But as my career went on and I grew from my failures and successes, I realized that my values, my family, my thoughts and feelings—all the parts that make up my life—were critically important to being the best lawyer that I can be.
I have no doubt that being a mom has made me a better lawyer.
It has certainly made me more patient. Without fail, it takes my 12-year-old daughter 30 minutes from the time I announce we have to leave until she is in the car with all items that she needs.
Having children is very humbling. All of my flaws, every mistake I make (big or small) my kids are right there to point it out to both me and complete strangers that may be nearby.
It has helped me to see what is important. When I represent injured people or families who have lost someone, I am able to better understand what has truly been lost and better able to tell their stories to the jury.
It has made me more passionate about what I do. I am inspired to be an example for my girls. I also feel a sense of obligation to do the most that I can to make the world a little better, a little safer, a little fairer.
It helps me put my clients’ needs first. Sometimes lawyers make cases about themselves. It becomes the lawyer’s win. But I see my cases as my clients’ cases. It is their story, not mine. While I advise them, ultimately, they make the decisions about their cases. This is something I learned from having children. It is just not about me.
I have represented a lot of moms in both their own claims or claims they brought for their child who was harmed by another. Moms from all walks of life. I have witnessed time and again the enduring love of motherhood. Moms who have spent months in hospitals with their children. Moms working two jobs to put food on the table but who have still managed to make it to every basketball game. Moms who have stood up for their children through cases lasting years or through defense attorneys taking shots at them. Moms showing unbelievable strength, courage and most of all, love for their children.
This last year is the first time I have ever heard the phrase “There is no such thing as other people’s children.” Nothing has ever resonated with me as much as this statement. I want this to be the motto of my life. We should care about all children as if they were our own.
From my mom and being a mom, and from all the moms I have known, I have learned to be courageous, tenacious and compassionate—to lawyer like a mother.
Happy Mother’s Day!