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The Rise of Legal Entrepreneurship: Women Lawyers as Founders and Innovators

by | Apr 3, 2023 | Uncategorized, Features, Career

The legal profession has slowly become outdated and burdened by conservative traditions. A 2022 report by the International Bar Association revealed that 1 in 5 attorneys under 40 want to leave the legal profession altogether.

As attorneys, we invest hundreds of thousands of dollars toward our education, association fees and legal training. So why do so many of us want to jump ship after all that we’ve invested?

The data makes it clear that change is needed in the legal profession. Unfortunately, change is unlikely to happen any time soon. Many traditional law firms have little incentive to evolve, as they are attached to their prestigious name and believe in a system that has been profitable for them so far. Lawyers must make changes even if law firms won’t.

How Legal Entrepreneurs are Changing the Game

Legal entrepreneurs are revolutionizing the legal industry by bringing new ideas, perspectives, and approaches to the table. These innovators are challenging traditional models of legal service delivery, and leveraging technology to create more efficient, accessible, and cost-effective legal solutions.

From legal tech startups that use artificial intelligence to automate routine legal tasks, to alternative legal service providers that offer fixed-fee services and flexible pricing options, legal entrepreneurs are changing the game and transforming the legal profession in a big way.

There have never been more opportunities for lawyers who decide to strike out on their own. Plenty of legal entrepreneurs are embracing diversity and innovation to create a better legal future than what they have encountered.

The success of these challenger businesses is particularly noteworthy, as they have emerged during difficult times, including a pandemic, talent shortages, and an impending recession. Despite these obstacles, entrepreneurs who are willing to break new ground are being recognized and rewarded.

Women Attorney Entrepreneurs Are Charting Their Own Courses

Before launching out on your own, you should know that there will be a steep learning curve. Not only must you market your legal business, but you must also learn how to survive without the comfort of a steady paycheck. For many high earners, unsteady income can be a dealbreaker.

But if you’re willing to ‘level up’ your entrepreneurial skills, you can join the ranks of other women attorneys who are experiencing success and satisfaction. Here are four women of color legal entrepreneurs.

      1. Laila Ghauri, Founder and Principal Attorney, Antares Law Firm

Quotes from Laila:

“The pandemic is reshaping the law. While in some ways many legal processes are slower, the pandemic is making legal services more accessible. Attorneys are more likely to work with clients on digital platforms. So folks in areas that could not physically access an attorney, can now do that.”

“I am an anomaly in the field. There are not many female, South Asian attorneys running their own law practices in the United States. I worked extensively in three different industries before I became an attorney. I have lived in numerous places in different parts of the world, not to mention traveled extensively for work and pleasure. I speak three languages. The conglomeration of my experiences situates me in a really amazing space to provide out-of-the-box solutions for my clients. Being different, I have learned, is one of my greatest assets.”

  1. Kimberly F. Wallace & Rayshea Turner, Founding Partners, Wallace Turner Law

Quotes from Kimberly and Rayshea:

“It’s a different type of motivation when you have your own responsibilities and knowing you have to get your own clients, make your own money, pay your staff for you to survive.” (Kimberly)

“Lawyers are Black. Lawyers are women. Lawyers are immigrants,” Wallace said. “Lawyers come in all different shapes and sizes, and we’re going to dominate the space and command that respect.” (Kimberly)

“I had an epiphany. I was helping people but it wasn’t long lasting. I thought, ‘How can I make an impact and help people?’ I need to open up a law firm. CapNY needs to see a law firm that looks like them. What services do we need to offer? We need to offer home ownership because that’s going to create generational wealth. It was about how I can help people establish themselves further.” (Rayshea)

  1. Laurie Robinson Haden, Founder and CEO of Corporate Counsel Women of Color

Quotes from Laurie:

“Everyone in our community was a role model. They encouraged us to be whatever we wanted to be. I want the legal profession to look like the environment I grew up in.”

“I didn’t go to law school to start a non-profit organization. That was never on my radar. That just goes to show you that you can make all the plans you want and end up on a different path.”

“At our Los Angeles conference, we did a panel on first generation lawyers and the challenges they deal with being first generation. I was surprised that 90% of the audience stood up when I asked how many of you are first generation lawyers. One of the attendees told me that her parents each had a third grade education. So she couldn’t get career advice from them. A lot of advice and guidance that the women in our organization get is from Corporate Counsel Women of Color.”

The legal industry is in dire need of change, as traditional law firms cling to outdated practices and overworked lawyers look for alternative paths. Despite the challenges that come with starting a new business, the success of these challenger firms is proof that it’s possible to have a legal career on your own terms.

As we celebrate the accomplishments of women of color legal entrepreneurs, it’s clear that there is ample opportunity for those who are willing to take the leap and chart their own course in the legal world.

About Corporate Counsel Women of Color

At Corporate Counsel Women of Color, our mission is to help women of color thrive in the legal profession. Join our network of over 4,500 women attorneys to build professional relationships and get access to career growth strategies.

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