April is a special month for us since it means we’re celebrating a year in business. We still can’t believe it’s been a whole year! Part of celebrating this milestone, as we figure most folks do, includes looking back on the past year and figuring out what lessons we’ve learned along the way. Here are the top 5 things we learned our first year in Business.
We grappled with this one initially about how we could be part of a system without being a non-profit lawyer or working for a non-profit with a mission to help those with low-income or vulnerable populations have access to justice. We figured out through the course of this year that despite our LLC (limited liability company) business structure, we still care deeply about the justice system and how little access low-income and vulnerable populations have to it. Most importantly, in a short year we have realized that we have many roles and titles that allow us to continue fighting for social, racial, and economic justice. We are co-founders, entrepreneurs, coaches, allies, wives, moms, daughters, friends, pro bono attorneys, and legal aid justice warriors.
The part that’s not easy is getting rejected, but we use it as an opportunity for feedback so we can continue to learn and grow. To be authentic to ourselves and our clients when we talk about systems change work, we’ve got to be able to walk the talk. Sometimes that means opening our ears and hearts and learning how to be comfortable being uncomfortable while receiving constructive feedback. We also recognize that our company, like any company, may not be a good fit for everyone. Overall though, it’s taking much less time to respond to RFPs and it’s a great way to be creative by analyzing and describing what approach we’d take.
While we do travel for work and are on the road a decent amount of time, it’s nice to be as casual as we want when we’re working from home. Sometimes we dress up in our yoga clothes so we can go to a yoga class, clear our heads, and get back in the game. Other days we’re in suits and some days sweat pants. We’re still working on achieving true balance in our lives but we don’t plan to hang up our yoga mats anytime soon.
We’ve worked with an Access to Justice Commission and several LSC and non-LSC organizations both in and out of Florida. Just like our first clients who hired us did, we conducted our due diligence before agreeing to work with organizations we knew little about. We are lucky and thankful that we’ve ended up working with some of the very best in non-profit law firms and grant funding organizations.
This isn’t just because we feel it. We’re running into folks we knew before we opened our business and time and time again they tell us we look really happy. And it’s absolutely true. We call the shots and it was something we dreamt of for years, but taking the leap was definitely not easy. Looking back over the past year into this adventure, we know we’re producing great work for our clients, we’re happy, and it shows.