Ally Lozano was an attorney working as an associate for a firm when she discovered that the path to financial independence for a lawyer is actually more complicated and nuanced than many expect. In fact, when you couple in the money owed on student debt from law school, the path to wealth for a lawyer is quite difficult. When you’re a female attorney who wants to also raise a family, the challenges grow even more similarly to the challenges faced by women in other competitive sectors like tech. In her case, Ally was earning a $20,000 per year salary at her current practice (most entry level lawyers don’t earn anywhere near what the public perception is) and she was seven months pregnant. It was around that time that a hurricane caused her to lose almost all of her belongings and prompted a moment where she reevaluated the path she was on.
It was at this point that Ally decided to take the leap to become an entrepreneur and start her own practice. Her focus would be immigration law– a cause that was very important to her. The decision to break out on her own became one of the most pivotal in her life. Within four months as a solo practice, she reached six figures in income. Two years later, she passed $1M in annual income. As of today, her practice now generates more than $1M per month.
The journey for her was fraught with challenges and that almost stopped her from achieving her dream. That’s why she then decided to create a mastermind and coaching program to support other female lawyers who were on the same journey. Now she has helped thousands of attorneys quit their firms to go solo. We sat down with her to look at the unique challenges female lawyers face when wanting to advance their career.
GritDaily: What are the misconceptions around lawyers and financial independence?
Ally Lozano: I believe most people think that lawyers are rich, when in fact many lawyers are earning very little. This is particularly true for women attorneys, many of whom are solo practitioners with their own firm. We create our own firm for freedom of our schedules, but because we have never been taught how to run a business, many of us end up severely underearning.
GD: What are the challenges women specifically face trying to advance in the corporate legal world?
Ally Lozano: The inequality in the household is one of the biggest challenges women attorneys face. From a societal perspective, women are still expected to handle the home in addition to their work. This means that women are juggling meal planning, cleaning, laundry, children, children’s schedules, and more, plus working demanding jobs that require full attention and 60+ hour workweeks. Women are still often the default parent and home organizer. This often leads to burnout and overwhelm for women in the legal industry.
GD: What was your experience like as a young lawyer working for a firm?
AL: I was hungry and eager to learn. I worked insane hours for very little money, but I was able to gain legal skills that made me a powerful advocate.
GD: When did you make the decision to leave and go solo?
AL: In 2012, I burned out on working so many hours a week and the cutthroat and negative work environments at the firms where I had worked. I wanted to quit law all together and run away to Mexico for a while. But many of my clients wanted me to be their lawyer. So I decided that I would run a law firm going back and forth from Cabo to Seattle.
GD: What was the most difficult challenge of branching out on your own?
AL: The most difficult challenge of branching out on my own was that I had no idea how to run a business. I knew how to do the legal work, but I had no business sense at all. This caused me to be disorganized and broke. I finally realized that as a solo practitioner I was actually an entrepreneur and businesswoman, so I had to start acting like one.
GD: What are lessons you learned along the way that are applicable to all female entrepreneurs?
AL: You start your business because you have a passion for what you do and you view your business as a vehicle through which you can do what you love. However, we must become the CEOs of our businesses so that way we can think and act like the businesswomen we are.
GD: How do you help other female lawyers with quitting their corporate jobs?
AL: Through AllyLozano.com, I offer courses, memberships, and Masterminds to help women attorneys build thriving businesses and lives that they love. I also offer a free daily business morning chat on my Facebook page.