Friday, September 23, 2011

Lindley Fraley's Story: How Cancer, Infertility and Parenthood Led to a Happy Life as a Freelance Lawyer

Montage freelance attorney, Lindley Fraley, was recently interviewed by Blooming Betty as part of their Profiles of Success series.  Lindley's amazing and inspirational story sheds light on just one of the reasons why attorneys opt out of the traditional firm model.

Meet Lindley Fraley: Profile of Success
Posted on Sept. 22, 2011 by Lori Pike

The minute I heard Lindley Fraley’s voice, I knew I had found the perfect choice for this month’s Profile of Success. I was connected with Lindley after my post on Professional Networks and the example of Montage Legal Group, based in Southern California. After chatting with the co-founders, they suggested Lindley, for her choices, her attitude, her ability and what I came to find out, her incredible and contagious level of optimism. Not only is she a great inspiration for women who are trying to find pave their own path to success but she clearly shows the power of optimism and positive thinking that I have spoken about in my recent posts and last week on Caroline Casey.

Lindley is a lawyer, 35, married, with two young children. Like many lawyers we all know, she kind of backed into law after getting an undergraduate degree in public policy and planning at the University of Southern California. After graduating, she quickly realized that there weren’t too many jobs in this field without a masters degree. She did some thinking and law school seemed like a good option. Fast forward, she completed the LSAT, got admission to Berkley, finished with a law degree, a job at a prestigious law firm, Latham and Watkins, hefty student loans and having met the man she would later marry. Productive! She admits that it was hard not to be lured to the high starting salaries and perks at these firms, especially when you have loans to pay back. And so she began her career.

However, quickly she learned that there was a reason for the high salary. While the people were nice, she had a hard time dealing with the crazy hours, crazy pressure, and crazy lifestyle. The only saving grace was that her partner was there too! But after two years she realized that she was more comfortable in a smaller firm with a better lifestyle and so she left began practicing employment litigation at Payne and Fears.

But then came kids. Lindley knew from the beginning that she wanted to continue working but wanted more flex time, didn’t want a full-time nanny for her child and wanted to reduce her hours. This was new at Payne and Fears, so Lindley was charged with coming up with a proposal and presenting it to senior management for approval. However, before that happened, her daughter decided to arrive 6 weeks early. So as she delivered, frantically on her blackberry trying to tie up loose ends with clients, she waited for approval of her new role. (Her daughter spent 2 weeks in the NICU and was thankfully fine, and she got the flex-time so needed.)

Good? Yes. But not for long, 6 months to be exact. Her husband, Steve, who had always suffered from sleep apnea and night terrors, after a series of tests, was diagnosed with brain cancer. Everything stopped.   Click here to read more

Blooming Betty is an excellent resource to help professional women meet "the female challenge: balancing the call of the marketplace, the home and the self." Blooming Betty helps "navigate the road to a richer life by uncovering, endorsing and supporting a personal definition of success."  Blooming Betty advocates that “climbing the traditional ladder of success just doesn’t work for most women!  Betty research shows that true success is individual, personal, relational, and dynamic. True success is tied to who we are; the people in our lives who matter to us; and our unique situations.”

Lori Miller Pike, a founder of Blooming Betty and a seasoned marketer from NYC, who met her Toronto husband on a bike trip in Utah, reestablished herself in Toronto and soon became mother to a pair of twins, recognized that such questions dogged the many women in her life daily. There were too many smart and wonderful women walking around feeling completely unsuccessful! Lori firmly believes that every woman should feel successful if she is living life according to her own definition of success.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Montage's Samantha Everett Weighs in On Flextime Arrangements at Small, Medium and Large Law Firms

The Lawyers Club of San Diego featured Montage Legal’s Samantha Everett in an article about flex-time and balance.   Samantha, a mother of twin 2 year old daughters and a 4 year old daughter, tried part-time arrangements at small, medium and large law firms in San Diego before becoming a freelance lawyer earlier this year.  The excerpt from the article is below.   Thanks to Samantha and Lawyers Club for a great article on this important topic!

Small, Medium and Large Firms Offering Flextime
I have worked for three different firms, and each provided part- or flex-time arrangements. At Cooley, LLP, I had a formal part-time schedule, ranging from 80% to 60% of full time hours. Because Cooley is a very high-tech firm, there really was no face-time requirement – the amount of face-time I had to put in depended largely on the particular partner for whom I was working. I then went to Stokes Roberts & Wagner, ALC, a labor and employment boutique, where I was able to negotiate a formal “flex-time” arrangement. I was billing full time hours, but was not expected in the office on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  I then joined Wilson Turner Kosmo, LLP, where I had another formal “flex-time” arrangement. There, I billed full time hours and was in the office each weekday, but was able to leave every day at 4 pm.

Each of these various part- and flex-time schedules had positives and negatives. When I was “part-time” with flexible face-time, I was able to carve out time during working hours for family obligations, dentist and doctor appointments, and sick days, grocery shopping or a workout. However, this did not mean that each day, or each week, was shorter than a full time work schedule. I would have very intense, high billing months, followed by very light months. Because I usually didn’t know which months would be which, it was difficult to manage the nanny, my husband, guests, etc., who never knew what to expect. When I was spending entire days at home, I felt like I was very present in my kids’ lives, although I spent much of those days running errands and trying to catch up at home. At work, I found it very difficult to manage with that type of schedule - when you are away from the office for an entire day, work, and voicemail, tends to pile up. Also, I found that I would miss out on those “drive-by” projects that so often lead to good work and/or an “in” with a partner you’ve been trying to work for, and I think your absence is felt by partners and full-time associates.

Leaving the office early each day was much easier to manage for me at work. I found that there isn’t usually much difference between returning a phone call at 5 p.m. vs. 8:30 a.m., and I felt like I was part of the team because I was present for impromptu lunches and meetings. However, this schedule required a high level of organization and it was difficult to schedule anything personal during the day, despite WTK’s parent-friendly culture. At home, I would find myself trying to remember which Federal Rule applied to my argument instead of where the pink cards were in Memory.  At work, my mouse frequently wandered to parenting blogs instead of Google Scholar.

After having three kids in two years, I found it impossible to have the life I want with any of the flex time schedules available to me. I decide to leave law firm life behind for a few years and now I have the ultimate flex-time arrangement: freelance. I joined Montage Legal Group, a network of highly qualified freelance attorneys in Southern California.  I am able to do meaningful, interesting work for a variety of attorneys on my own time and my own schedule. I most frequently work after my kids are asleep (they are four and two, so they have early bedtimes), and on the rare occasion when I have to be present in person, I am able to make childcare arrangements.

Law firms get the benefit of my experience without having to pay an associate’s salary and benefits, and I get to be home with my kids during these early years while staying active in the bar.

Samantha M. Everett obtained her Juris Doctor from the University of San Diego School of Law in 2004, cum laude, Order of the Coif, where she graduated in the top 5% of her class and was an editor of the San Diego Law Review. She received her undergraduate degree from San Diego State University, graduating cum laude with distinction in English Literature. 
Samantha began her legal career in 2004 at Cooley LLP (formerly Cooley Godward Kronish LLP), where she was a member of the litigation group. Samantha left Cooley in 2010 to practice employment litigation with the employment boutiques Stokes Roberts and Wagner ALC and Wilson Turner Kosmo, LLP.
Samantha is experienced in all aspects of complex civil litigation in a variety of substantive areas, including employment, intellectual property, securities, general commercial litigation, and white-collar criminal defense. She has done extensive motion work including dispositive and evidentiary motions and has had a substantial level of experience in both large and small cases including taking and defending depositions, court appearances and oral argument, conducting employee interviews, other evidence gathering and preparation, preparing witnesses for deposition and trial, managing e-discovery, managing large-scale litigation, and serving as local counsel in San Diego and the Southern District of California. 
Samantha joined Montage Legal Group in January 2011 and is currently doing freelance work for law firms in Southern California.  Samantha also serves on the Leadership Development Committees of both the Association of Business Trial Lawyers - San Diego and the Lawyers Club of San Diego.  Her monthly Lawyers Club News article "Leadership Opportunities" seeks to assist women lawyers to obtain leadership positions on local government and nonprofit boards and commissions. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

"Professional Networks...Might Be For You" by Blooming Betty


Earlier today, we came across an article titled Professional Networks...Might Be For You by Lori Pike of Blooming Betty, which profiled Montage Legal Group.  We read more about their company, and found out that Blooming Betty is an excellent resource to help professional women meet "the female challenge: balancing the call of the marketplace, the home and the self." Blooming Betty helps "navigate the road to a richer life by uncovering, endorsing and supporting a personal definition of success." We are so honored and excited to be described by Blooming Betty as a good example of what women can do when they work together.  Lori Pike was kind enough to allow us to repost her article on our blog.  Thanks Blooming Betty!

Professional networks...might be for you
Posted on BloomingBetty by Lori Miller Pike on September 8th

Wow. Only the first week of September and already I’ve had at least ten conversations with smart, professional women who are either thinking of leaving their office jobs for something more flexible or would like to re-enter the work force in some capacity after time off. Yes, more than January and it’s notorious fitness commitments, September, is a time of renewal, productivity and change, particularly in the work-place. Perhaps we are tied to our years of fresh pencils and backpacks or our re-charged batteries glowing with summer sunshine.

So, when I stumbled across this article, entitled “Freelance Law” in the ABA Journal (o.k. truth be told, my husband gave it to me, yellow “stickied” it, and left it on my night table), I thought that it was a great example of how women, when working together, can do great things. Food for thought as we navigate our own career choices this September.

Fact: Female attorneys who wanted to have children or spend more time with their families have historically had to leave their big firms behind because they chose not keep up with the long hours required. No surprise there.

Another fact: In today’s legal climate, using independent contractors for attorney services has become a way for law firms/ businesses to maintain a competitive edge. Providing employee benefits, uneven workflow, payroll, and performing administrative tasks can make it both costly and risky to hire additional staff. When workload fluctuates due to trials or a heavy caseload, skilled freelance attorneys can enable a firm to provide excellent work product for their clients at reduced costs. Makes sense.
Well Laurie Rowen and Erin Giglia blended the facts. But they saw opportunity too. Why not form a legal “network” with great female attorneys who could set their own hours and are willing to work on a freelance basis for other firms?

So in 2009 Rowan and Giglia founded “Montage Legal Group”. Who are they? A 24-person law network (not to be confused with a law firm), based in California, composed of mostly women, from prominent law firms or in-house counsels, who work virtually for both clients of Montage and their own (if they choose). It is a network of individual sole practitioner attorneys doing freelance work from home on an hourly basis. Whether a law firm needs assistance with law and motion work, depositions, court appearances or document review, or wants to add a new specialty or increased knowledge to their practice, Montage Legal Group’s attorneys step in to provide quality legal resources.

The beauty is that the business model appeals to both their clients and their lawyers. Law firms and corporations receive top -notch legal services on an as needed basis and the lawyers retain the flexibility allowing them to spend time with their families, elder parents, or whatever and whomever else they choose. There are women who have used Montage to help them re-launch their careers too. Allowing them to re-enter the work force slowly and softly.

“Montage Legal attorneys are incredibly efficient, Type-A planners, who have many balls in the air at once,” Rowen and Giglia say. “Despite our incredibly busy schedules, we still manage to exceed every expectation of the law firms that hire us. And we can write winning motions while making dinner and helping with homework at the same time!”

How many women in other professions do you know who could be described this way? Most of women that I have spoken to this week and so many others! And how many corporations are faced with the same dilemma as the law firms that make hiring permanent staff so daunting? Lots.

It has become common-place for companies to outsource administrative and non-core services like call centers, mail-room, and technology (IT) but not as much for professional services. Can the “Montage” model be expanded further? Accounting and finance? Marketing and strategic services? Education? Or what about networks of varying professional disciplines that act as a coop of services?

There are so many great women freelancing as a result of work-balance choices,workplaces that don't easily translate to parenthood, and the slow economy, wouldn’t it this make sense for these skilled women to team up? Are there women that you would like to approach about forming your own professional network? Not sure how to get started?
Here are a few ideas:
  1. Join an association in your field (American Marketing Association, Accounting, etc.) on a local level so that you meet peopl in close proximity.
  2. Find the chapter of the Women’s Executive Network in your area
  3. Talk to other Mom’s about more than sleep schedules and pre-school, there is probably lots of talent as close as your child's music class!
  4. Google all of the "meetups" of people in your field that are probably happening in your area
And maybe starting one of these professional networks is bit too much right now, did you know there are companies that specialize in helping professional women find part time work. I took a look at a bunch and weeded through those professing "make millions from your living rooms". Check these out, they might be your first step.

Blooming Betty

Lori Miller Pike, a seasoned marketer from NYC, who met her Toronto husband on a bike trip in Utah, reestablished herself in Toronto and soon became mother to a pair of twins, recognized that such questions dogged the many women in her life daily. There were too many smart and wonderful women walking around feeling completely unsuccessful! Lori firmly believes that every woman should feel successful if she is living life according to her own definition of success.

Sue Van Der Hout, a long-time lawyer, married with two grown sons found herself exploring the same issues with women seeking leadership insights. She’d asked it of herself over the 30 years of her working life – “Is success climbing a ladder? Status? Money? Breathing and dodging the twin dragons of “must be” and “must do”? What does happiness look like at different ages and stages?“

Lori and Sue welcome you to Blooming Betty and ask you to jump in with both feet –Discover your own definition of success.

WHW's Employment Leader Award


Laurie Rowen, co-founder of Montage Legal Group, serves on the board of WHW.  Please see WHW's announcement of its new Employment Leader Award program:

WHW (Women Helping Women/Men2Work) is proud to announce our Employment Leadership Award, created to honor outstanding people in corporations, nonprofit organizations and academia who have made a substantial impact on employment success in Orange County.

We are now calling for nominations for the Employment Leadership Award! Eligible nominees include leaders in business, Human Resources / Organizational Management executives, lay and professional leaders in agencies specializing in employment assistance, academic / thought leaders, leaders in organizations which employ the disabled, and others. Nominees should be people who have done outstanding work in advancing employment, for the world at large, and especially for the disadvantaged and/or lower income worker.

The Employment Leadership Award will be presented at WHW’s annual gala event to be held April 21, 2012 in Newport Beach. Honorees will be chosen through a selection committee, and will be notified by November 1, 2011.

WHW’s mission is to provide comprehensive employment support services to empower disadvantaged men, women and teens to achieve economic self sufficiency through employment success. WHW’s comprehensive Employment Success Program includes resume and interviewing skills, workshops, computer classes, job placement, image consulting and professional clothing appropriate for interviews. WHW is pleased to recognize leaders and organizations in Orange County that assist the unemployed, so that all men, women and teens have the opportunity to provide for themselves and their families into the future.

For more information, please contact WHW’s Executive Director Janie Wolicki at (949) 631-2333 x316 or janiew@whw.org. Nomination forms are also available at www.whw.org.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Freelance Attorneys: Building Your Practice And Profits And Improving Client Service - Riverside Lawyer, September 2011

The Riverside County Bar Association features freelance legal practice in an article in the September issue of Riverside Lawyer: "Freelance Attorneys: Building Your Practice And Profits And Improving Client Service."   The article, authored by Montage Legal's Amy Guldner, discusses the basic premise of utilizing freelance attorneys, and many benefits of the freelance attorney model, especially in a challenging economy.   For example, experienced freelance attorneys can assist firms with overflow work during busy periods like trial prep, or when multiple matters heat up simultaneously.  Because firms are ethically permitted to add a surcharge to a freelance attorney's low hourly rate, law firms are able to profit from the freelance attorney's rate while still offering a lower hourly rate to their clients.  In other words, law firms can earn a profit while getting the extra help they need, and can pass significant savings to their clients.

 
 
While the freelance model is attractive, law firms must take care in outsourcing legal work.  As discussed in the article about the recent malpractice case against McDermott, Will & Emery, law firms should consider the relevant ethical duties, should properly direct and supervise the outside attorneys, and should favor experienced freelance attorneys over the traditional "contract attorney."

 
 
Riverside Lawyer also features a full profile on Amy Guldner on page 24.  The RCBA is excited to have Amy's exceptional experience and skill as a resource for the organization, and to assist Riverside County attorneys.  Click here to read the entire article: Freelance Attorneys: Building Your Practice And Profits And Improving Client Service. 

 
 
Amy, the lead attorney for Montage Legal Group, has been interviewed by MOMentum and has written several popular blog posts, including the following:
 
Amy Leinen Guldner joined Montage Legal Group in January, 2010 after practicing for over thirteen years at Morgan Lewis and Bockius LLP and Snell and Wilmer LLP. Amy Guldner is Montage Legal's lead attorney, and has become an integral part of expanding Montage Legal to law firms in the Inland Empire, including Corona, Riverside and Temecula. In addition to her legal work and caring for her two young children, Amy is a volunteer Court-Appointed Special Advocate with CASA of Orange County, mentoring and advocating in court on behalf of abused and neglected children. She is also involved with the Riverside County Bar Association and its publications committee. Amy lives with her husband, her five year old daughter and her seven year old son in Corona, CA.