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Being My Own Boss

Posted By Guest Blogger Brenda Lopez, Tuesday, August 11, 2020
At a young age I realized I was different. I started kindergarten not knowing any English in a predominantly White community. While my parents consistently encouraged me to work hard to achieve my goals, society was not always so supportive. When I decided I wanted to become a lawyer and was preparing for the LSAT, people told me I would not make it. When I was preparing to take the California Bar Examination, people told me I would not pass the test. 

I was sworn in and quickly began the job hunt. After a few months of searching for jobs unsuccessfully, I decided to start my own law practice under the mentorship of an established family law attorney. I also volunteered at San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program’s domestic violence restraining order clinic. At the beginning of my career, I was often mistaken for a self-represented litigant or a Spanish interpreter. Many (older) male attorneys would talk down to me, saying things like, “Sweetie, I don’t know how long you have been practicing but . . . ,” or, “Honey, I have been practicing for 20 years and the court would never order that . . . .”

 

Photo showing sunny day on San Diego bay, with a laptop open in the foreground.
A few years later, I transitioned into working for a mid-size firm in San Diego. In almost six years’ time, I gained invaluable litigation experience and became certified in family law. However, once again I believed my worth was questioned and that I was underestimated. I saw two choices: Work for another firm, or re-open my solo practice – I chose the latter. 

I set up my solo practice in three-day’s time, with the COVID-19 global pandemic encompassing every aspect of our lives. How would my solo practice be affected? I questioned whether I would be able to build a book of business. I quickly silenced the voice in my head telling me, “I cannot do this,” and focused on establishing myself. To my surprise, the calls came immediately. Despite the pandemic, my family law practice is alive and well. I am blessed to be able to continue to make a living doing what I love, but with a much better view.

The pandemic, like many other life altering events, reminded me that life is short. Going solo is not easy but it is also not impossible. The biggest difference between going solo at the beginning of my career and going solo now, is the experience I have and the relationships I have made. I am grateful to have wonderful people who immediately offered their support. Instead of questioning whether I could do it, they reminded me that I could do anything . . . so I did. 

Brenda Lopez is a Certified Family Law Specialist and serves as Co-Chair of the Lawyers Club of San Diego’s Gender Equity Committee. She is also a Director for both the San Diego County Bar Association and San Diego La Raza Lawyers Association Scholarship Fund.

 

Tags:  certified family law specialist  COVID-19  family law  San Diego Volunteer Lawyers Program  SDVLP  solo firm  solo practice 

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