Anyone who knows me is already aware that I made some pretty huge life changes in the latter part of 2017. I’ve received feedback ranging from “you’re freaking crazy” to “good for you” and everything in between. However, my favorite comment is one I’ve received countless times, which is “that’s a lot, that’s too much, you have a lot on your plate, how are you doing that?” What people may not realize is…. having a baby and starting my own law firm is somehow easier and less stressful than my former life.
I waited until I was nearly 38-years-old to have a baby for a reason. Frankly, I didn’t think I could do it. I know what you are thinking, that I’m being literal. I’m not. What I mean is that I didn’t think I could be a mom and continue in my position as Head of Litigation in the bustling law firm I called home for nearly 9 years. In fact, I knew I couldn’t. I commuted two hours to work every day in mad traffic, yes folks, that’s ten extra hours per week spent in a vehicle, and I worked my tail off from the time I walked into that place until the time I left each day. I didn’t even take a breath. I couldn’t take a breath. There wasn’t time for that. I ate lunch at my desk everyday while working because I didn’t even have time to eat. I had to be so “on” each day to get everything done that needed to get done each day, that when I left each night, I had nothing else to give. I was a zombie. I knew that it would be nearly impossible to be a mom. Okay, perhaps I could have been a mom, but not a good mom. Not the kind of mom I had while growing up. I would have been the type of mom who didn’t see her son from early in the morning until late at night, who resented him when she had to feed him in the middle of the night because she knew she had a full litigation caseload and enormous amounts of deadlines waiting for her the next day, and the type of mom who missed her little boy’s holiday programs, sporting events, and award ceremonies because she couldn’t leave the office. I simply had too many litigation cases and I was wearing too many hats.
Those who know me well know I’m an all or nothing kind of gal. I’ve been called OCD and perfectionist, and as much as I’d like to disagree with these terms, I can’t. I do not half-ass anything. I wasn’t going to half-ass being a mom or a lawyer. I certainly wasn’t going to half-ass being a mom.
You may want to know if I was happy in my former life? To be honest, the answer is not entirely happy. Sure, I loved my husband and my family; however, looking back, I was going through the motions of life. I had brushed off family members and friends because I was too exhausted to have relationships. I had let go of many hobbies I used to enjoy. I had forgotten what happiness truly felt like.
If I’m being perfectly honest, I have to admit that being a partner in a law firm or having my own law firm was something I used to want more and certainly valued more than having a child. I cringe as I write that, in fact, I want to scream at my former self for having felt that way, because now that I have my son Quinnlan in my life, I now realize how wrong I was. I was always on the fence about starting a family. I was never on the fence about wanting to be a partner in a law firm. I’ve wanted that for most of my adulthood. Jerrod Warr, my former colleague and now law partner, used to come in my office at least once a week and attempt to get through to me the importance of having a child and how I was missing out on something amazing. In addition to my husband, I have Jerrod to thank for getting me to understand that I should and could have a child, that I could have the best of both worlds. Quinnlan has already changed my perspective on everything. He is my world. He is my greatest achievement. He has shown me true happiness. Quinnlan, my husband, and my family mean more to me than anything. So does that mean I still can’t have my second love, which is my law firm? No, life just required some restructuring.
It may have come as a shock to me, that less than two months after informing my employer of my pregnancy, that she decided she wanted to part ways, after nearly nine years of what I considered to be exemplary service, and replaced me with a male attorney. However, in retrospect, she did me a huge favor. The truth is, she gave me the greatest gift by wanting to go in a different direction. I may have come up with a million excuses to stay, mostly out of fear to take a risk, and perhaps would have stayed because I was pregnant. Her decision forced me to follow my dreams and I now have the best of both worlds. I have law and a baby. I feel whole, rejuvenated, revitalized, inspired.
Is it true what they say, that being a mom will make you less of a lawyer, lazy? From my perspective, no. My extremely supportive husband Corey, Quinnlan, and I have spent more weekends at Falgien Warr & Iyer, P.C. since Quinnlan was born nearly six months ago than we have at our own home. It’s all about restructuring your life so you can have both of your loves. My two law partners and I are a different breed. Gone are the days of bringing a cot into your law office and having mandatory hours each day and forgetting about your family and outside life once you walk through your law firm doors. Does this mean we are working less hours or not working hard? No, it’s quite the opposite. We are working smart. We’ve spent a lot of weekends at our firm because we love being here and we care about our clients. We also value work / life balance and understand when someone has to leave at 3:00 pm to pick up a child from school or when mama Brianne has Quinnlan in her office during the day. You still get the hours in and the work gets done, it just happens with a lot more love and flexibility.
In fact, recently I handled a new client consultation with Quinnlan in my office. Then, my partner Vinny Iyer and I had a mediation that lasted an hour longer than we had planned. I had to run out of there at the end and head home to pump my very full breasts, before returning to the office, because I just couldn’t wait another second. You make it work. I can now be real with people. I don’t have to pretend to be someone I am not. I can be my true self and still be successful.
My partners and I are actually better personal injury and workers’ compensation lawyers now because we are happy. We are happy with our philosophy of treating our staff and clients like gold and making sure we are always accessible to our clients. At Falgien Warr & Iyer, P.C. clients are able meet and talk with their lawyers, not just their paralegals, and we truly get to know our clients, spend time with them, and are able to tell their stories because we truly know them. We are also better people now in an authentic and caring atmosphere. These past eight months we have seen that our clients are happy, we are happy, and that life is now truly the way it was meant to be.
Thus, it’s true, having a baby and starting my own law firm has been easier. It certainty has been more fulfilling. I will never take my family or my firm for granted. I know just how fortunate I am and my gratitude will shine through in my work as a lawyer and a mother.