Watch out female lawyers, the bar has been set for working moms.
Havona Madama, attorney at law turned entrepreneur, started out as an associate for a small insurance firm in Chicago. Then, she started her own practice specializing in emerging technologies. Now, she’s a multiple start-up business owner in Brooklyn, New York.
“I didn’t realize how many day-to-day things entrepreneurs do when I was working mostly as a lawyer and sometimes as an entrepreneur. Now that it’s the other way around, it’s like “oh, wow! It’s an interesting combination of skills you need to be a full-time entrepreneur,” Madama said in an interview (link to video here) with Spencer Mazyck of Bloomberg Law.
Working with high-tech entrepreneurs everyday at the law office may have made it easier for Madama to open her own home office.
Initially, Madama started with a toddler clothing line, Dulcet Clothiers, all the while running her own partnership law firm full-time.
As her daughter grew and became more active, Madama started to look for family-friendly workouts. She created a yoga video for moms with children under three, who are still too young to go to formal classes.
Thus Tuesdays At Ten was born, an umbrella organization under which she could form more companies, including her most successful, KidKlass. KidKlass is an aggregator app and website for kid’s classes in Brooklyn, New York.
Constantly looking to learn and grow as a person, Madama was motivated to provide the same for her daughter. But, finding children’s classes, recreational and educational services in New York was both time-consuming and frustrating.
In today’s “generation waiting list,” Madama was looking to take the stress out of parenting.
It takes a lot of time to find local classes, recommendations from other parents about these classes, and ways to register officially online, as opposed to lengthy paper applications in-person.
It was then that Madama made the switch between full-time lawyer to full-time entrepreneur.
Is this a total abandonment of law? Not really.
“The kinds of clients I work with respect what I’m doing,” explains Madama.
Should she ever go back to practicing, her entrepreneur clients might value her experience even more highly. First-hand knowledge of what it takes to run a household (for family lawyers), a Fortune-500 firm (for corporate lawyers), or an insurance company (for litigants) is critical.
In fact, more lawyers should practice what they preach.
So, don’t be afraid to volunteer with your local non-profit organization to see the ins-and-outs of running a small, non-profit firm. When you go back to your not-for-profit clients, you may bring more compassion in addition to expertise to the negotiating table.
If you’re working on a contentious financial merger between two companies, spend a day shadowing the CEO of each company. Or, better yet, become a customer and watch how the day-to-day operations are handled on either end. You’ll have, at least, a bit more insight to why there’s so much emotion, as well as technical complexity, at play.
Finally, if you’re a hiring manager, don’t dismiss the non-legal experience of the incoming freshman class of associates. First, employment opportunities for young lawyers have been scare. And, secondly, experience beyond textbooks and courtrooms might—in the end—make it into both.
If a lawyer can successfully transition to be an entrepreneur, don’t underestimate the value of an entrepreneurial mind wishing to become a lawyer.
If your firm is ready to push their limits, encourage your associates to come up with profitable business ideas. Become your own venture capital firm and fund the best business ideas of your employees (at a percentage ownership and margin, of course).