Making the leap from lady-boss-queen solo lawyer back to a law firm, and a large national law firm at that, should have been much more difficult. In theory, transitioning from the practice I had been building to one in existence longer than I have been in existence should have been a challenge. It really was not. I found my place and folded into it rather seamlessly. The most wonderful part of this whole change has been that I can once again sleep at night. I don't worry about making payroll or paying taxes (on everything). Now my worries are the normal trial lawyer worries, which are completely manageable. (Plus, there's scotch).
Perhaps, the greatest fear I had, which was instantly put to rest, was that I would lose my individuality as an attorney. My bosses assured me out of the gate that I was brought onto the team for who I am as much as for what they know I can do for the firm. In other words, I would not be hidden back within the shadows of a large firm where someone else more senior to me would take credit for my successes or ideas. I had been down that road before and certainly did not want to head back that way. And true to their word, my firm is clearly a place where growth is encouraged and there are wonderful incentives for hard work. I believe I have found my tribe and my home, legally speaking.
The challenge I needed to overcome in order to get myself to even knock on the door of opportunity was the feeling that I had failed as a small business person/girl boss. There was no mistaking it: I hated having to manage everything. Maybe if I had chosen a less litigation intensive practice area, I could have hung on longer, but I felt and have always felt an obligation to help people injured through no fault of their own. I have this mission to try to help make our communities safer by holding people who break safety rules accountable, whether that be drivers or business owners, medical professionals or hospitals and nursing homes. Real Estate closings have never been part of my vision.
Ultimately, I'm glad to have had the experience I did out on my own. I assembled a hard working and exceptionally smart team of legal assistants and paralegals who dedicated themselves to helping our clients, and who would go above and beyond for them and for me. To be sure, I learned that loyalty means a lot to me. And I also learned that people can be very self centered and selfish and have no problem taking advantage of you, despite having a front seat view of a situation. The answer to, "After everything I have done, this is how you treat me?" Is "Yup." (I didn't actually ask that question with those words to anyone, because that would have been very whiny and not lady boss-like.) That's an unfortunate trait of some humans. Some people have no problem taking.
People thought I was brave to go out on my own with nothing more than a really good stapler and a couple pens "borrowed" from the bank. Others thought I was an idiot with a pie-in the sky vision that was unsustainable. Well, rather than give in to the "I told ya so" crew, I'd rather chalk it all up to experience and say that I've come to the place I wanted to be because I had that vision. I grew from zero clients and files to a full filing cabinet of important cases in two short years. And I am now a partner with one of the most highly regarded injury law firms in NJ, maybe even the country. I get to collaborate with some of the best legal minds around on a daily basis. That's not bad, not bad at all. And I still have my really good stapler.
Note: More changes are coming soon. My amazing friends at BizBudding are reinventing my website, http://LaurenDFraser.com as a central hub for all my blog posts, past, present and future and all of my news about the law and my books. Be sure to check back periodically to see what's new. Stay safe out there and stay fierce.