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The mom solo attorney

generation-jd-sheri-hoidra“How do you do it?”

This is usually the question I get in social settings when I’m trying to think of anything but work-life balance. Generally, I laugh it off and move on to the next topic of conversation. The question remains though, and I suppose that’s why I have decided to write for Generation J.D. How, exactly, do I do it?

My life is hectic. I have two boys under the age of 3 and a solo law firm with roughly 50 active cases at a time spanning five different areas of practice. There’s also a husband, dog and a house to maintain. One way I do it is I stopped expecting perfection outside of my work from myself or anyone else. I also have a support system who does not expect perfection from me.

I have always gone against the grain, which is partially how I ended up where I am today. The first year-and-a-half of law school, when most students went to school full-time, I opted to work during the day and go to law school at night. My husband (then my fiancé) eventually had enough after I started to come home Friday nights crying from sheer exhaustion.

“Who cries on Friday?” he asked. “It’s the end of the week!”

To save my sanity, I decided to switch gears and quit my day job. Not exactly the best decision when it came to student loans, but definitely the best decision for my relationship.

Thankfully, quitting my day job gave me the opportunity to get my feet wet as a lawyer. I interned at the Office of the Public Defender in Baltimore County, the Department of Homeland Security (ICE) in Baltimore city, and Catholic Charities Esperanza Center. I was also a student attorney for the University of Baltimore School of Law Immigrant Rights Clinic.

I was lucky enough to get a job out of law school and worked in a small firm for a few months. I was thankful for the position but I knew, in the back of my mind, that it was not the right fit for me. I like to do things my own way. So I made the choice of going solo.

In March 2013, I hung my own shingle and never looked back. It is hard to believe that since then, I have assisted hundreds of people. Not because of some bureaucratic decision to put me in charge of a case, but because they came to me with their problems, and I made a conscious decision to help find them a solution. That professional autonomy is the constant driving force in my continuing solo practice.

It was the summer after starting my practice that my husband and I also decided to start a family.  I had a son in April 2014 and another one in June 2015. Despite fearing the worst, I kept going to hearings, pregnant belly and all, and winning. After having each child, other than the stress of only giving myself six weeks of true maternity leave, it was a blessing to be able to stay home when I wanted to and take my newborns to the office if I had to get a filing done. My practice survived and the referrals continued. Fast forward to 2017, and here I am, having just finished my most profitable year ever and even finding myself enjoying the chaos.

That is not to say that pursuing my professional aspirations has not come with a regular dose of guilt – certainly it has, as all working moms know the guilt is palpable – but parenting has a way of making memories out of the smallest opportunities. I am mindful of those moments and hone in on them so my boys never forget that mommy loves them.

There may be no such thing as a perfect mom or attorney, but as a wise mentor once told me, “Don’t aim for perfection, aim for results.” I plan to write about the adventures of solo mom life and the results that make it worth it.