Thursday, June 6, 2013

Need a will? A GIVEAWAY for legal services!

The best thing about this blog is that I get to meet people I never would have encountered otherwise.

A month or so ago, in conjunction with the Mommy Esquire event, I was contacted by Maria Simon, an attorney with the Law Office of Rebecca Geller, a firm comprised solely of moms with young children that specializes in wills and estate planning.  That's right, an all mom law firm!  I was intrigued.

We had a bit of a dialogue, and she mentioned that she would be interested in doing a giveaway for legal services (wills/guardianship documents, trusts, advance medical directives, and legal family documents) on my blog.  I thought it would be a great idea, particularly since I know that many families don't have a will, despite how important it is to have something in place when kids are involved.  I agreed, and asked that she also grant me an interview, as I figured many readers would be interested in hearing her story.

So without further adieu, here is Maria's story of success in having a legal career with children. And be sure to read the entire thing (or scroll to the bottom), because details of the giveaway are below:

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Tell us a bit about your career prior to having children.
I was a corporate litigator working for a boutique firm in DC, that while small in number, had big firm standards. It was exciting work. I got to travel. Because of the size of the firm, I was given tons of responsibility right from the start.

The quintessential example of my career priorities prior to having children is the day my son was born. I was on the metro intending to head to work after my 39 week appointment when my water broke somewhere around Woodley Park. I answered a bunch of emails, checked into the hospital and got ready to have a baby. After a few hours I ended up with an epidural. Perfect time to catch up on email! A colleague I was emailing with to get a deal done said he had just called my office and my secretary had informed him I was at the hospital having the baby. I responded that it was going to be a few hours yet, we had time to finalize the agreement before the kid was born.

I was in labor. It was the last day that it would only be me and my husband. I was working.

How did having children change your career trajectory and goals?
At first, I wanted to do it all and do it all really well. And then I realized I wasn’t doing anything well and started to feel really terrible about myself. I wasn’t doing my job to the standard I (or my bosses) wanted. I wasn’t being the type of mother I wanted to be.  And forget about being a wife / friend / partner.

I decided I needed to make a change and reassess what was important to me. I stepped aside for a few months. I did a lot of yoga. Most importantly, I realized that I needed to not identify myself as a lawyer first; it’s not a characteristic, it's an occupation. I realized I did miss being a lawyer, but that I needed to find something that would let me be the type of person I wanted to be.

Your current firm is made up solely of moms. How did you find it?
My amazing law school classmate, Rebecca Geller, started it in 2011. She was at a large firm and realized she didn’t want to do that her entire life. She wanted to see her two adorable sons (age 4 and 2), so she created her own opportunity. The firm took off and she needed someone to join her. I happened to be at the right place at the right time.

We just hired our first non-mom, but it’s still all female.

How do the moms balance work and family?
While we have a shared office where we can meet clients, we primarily work from home and for the most part create our own schedules. There is a ton of coordination and lots of lists and google docs that go back and forth between us. The fact that there is so much communication is key. Everyone knows what the other is doing. We have access to each other’s calendars. And, most importantly, we make it a priority to have family time.

For me, making my own schedule is key. I wake up most days around 5:30am, get a good hour or two of work in, check email, and do admin things that take up time, before my son gets up. I work while he’s at school and during nap. We play post-nap until bed. I still find time to work out and make dinner (on occasion). There is food in the fridge and clean laundry (also on occasion).

What's your favorite part of your job?
As a litigator I felt like I was constantly tearing something apart – a company, a contract. No one was ever really happy with the work I did because even if they received a favorable result, they still had to pay me to get what they perceived was theirs to begin with. You need lawyers like this. It was exciting, but also exhausting.

Now, I get to build something. We specialize in providing legal services for small businesses and writing wills, guardianship documents, and trusts for families and individuals. I get to build something with a client, helping them shape a concept into reality. I get to help people protect their families by creating wills and trusts to ensure that their children will be cared for physically and financially. (We offer free initial consults if you email me at msimon@rebeccagellerlaw.com and serve clients in DC, MD, VA and NC!).  Also, I get to build a firm, and it is exciting to see something you put so much time and effort into grow and really be apart of it.

What's your favorite part of being a mom?
I am not enjoying toilet training, that’s for sure.

I love being constantly shocked by what my son comes up with. The things he remembers, the games he plays with himself. I watched him read a book to himself the other day for 10 whole minutes. It was incredible to watch him tell himself the story. Also I was shocked to see him sit still for so long.

I also love the quiet moments where he just wants to cuddle. I know these years do not last forever, and I am trying to cherish those moments, even when they occur in the middle of the night because he has an ear infection and is refusing to sleep anywhere but on top of me.

Do you have any words of advice or inspiration for moms out there who are trying to achieve a work-life balance?
Someone told me this once and I think it really rings true: we are all juggling a lot of balls, some are crystal and need to be kept up in the air. But some are rubber, and if you drop them, they will bounce right back up, maybe a little dirtier than before, but still intact. It is ok to let the rubber balls drop.   
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Maria's firm, the Law Office of Rebecca Geller, is giving away five $250 gift certificates to be used toward wills/guardianship documents, trusts, advance medical directives, and legal family documents.  These will and estate planning documents are so crucial to have, and it's amazing how many people put it on the back burner (I am guilty as well - we didn't get our will set until I was pregnant with my second!).  The firm serves clients in DC, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina.   Winners will be chosen at random.  To enter the giveaway, do the following:

1) Like my facebook page, if you haven't already (click here), AND
2) Leave a comment below with your email address.

The giveaway will close on Monday evening (6/10) at 11pm.  I will notify the winners by email. Good luck! 

12 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  2. Wow, what a small world! I went to law school with Maria and our sons are very close in age. It's great to hear about her career journey!

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  3. I love everything about this. I am an attorney at a boutique firm that sounds similar to the one Maria worked at and will be returning from maternity leave after having my first kid in a few months. I am very curious to see how it will work out. I am intrigued by Maria's current firm and would love to hear more about the ins and outs of working at such a new firm. I would also like some free legal services, what with the new his and all! Email: sandyjane48@gmail.com.

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  4. What an inspiring journey! It just reinforces my desire to set up a consulting company in fundraising comprised of working parents ... Kelly Rollison kellymariecarter@gmail.com

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  5. Great post, Shannon! dann.lettieri@gmail.com

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  6. What an interesting post! Sharialex@gmail.com

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  7. This came just in time! We are looking to put a will together and voila I happened on your post!

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  8. You are inspiring to other working moms trying to balance it all.
    mlkilbride@yahoo.com

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  9. Hi. I'm wondering if the giveaway drawing has taken place since I didn't provide my email in my comment....

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    1. Hi Ranya,

      My name is Sophia Chase, and I am an attorney with The Law Office of Rebecca Geller, P.C. (now The Geller Law Group). If you are still interested in pursing a will, would you please send me your email address? I can be reached at SChase@thegellerlawgroup.com. Thank you, and I look forward to hearing from you soon!

      Sincerely,
      Sophia

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  10. The giveaway has closed, and the winners have been notified. Thanks, everyone!

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