I’ve never been a particularly good fit with traditional firms, probably because my values don’t always align with theirs, and I have consistently found myself happier as a solo practitioner. Having my own firm allows me to run lean, bill less, take as much time as I need to understand my clients’ issues and think about solutions, and still have time for my family. Being a small business owner has definitely presented a learning curve, but I love every minute of it.
Who are your customers/community and how do they find you? What lessons have you learned in the process?
My customers are varied, but all are individuals or small business owners who need real help, but either cannot afford to pay traditional law firm prices or have had a bad experience with a traditional law firm and want something a bit more modern and efficient. They are ordinary people who are having problems with their neighbors, or who are involved in property disputes. They are small business owners who need help complying with the many environmental regulations that govern their operations. They are property owners who have discovered they own contaminated property or are responsible for historic releases of contamination into soil or groundwater. They are small developers who need help with permitting. And they are cannabis companies looking for help with the ever-changing regulations governing their now-legal businesses.
Tell us about one of the biggest obstacles you have faced in your work and how you overcame it:
Honestly, my biggest challenge has been having faith in myself and my vision. Attorneys probably aren’t ever supposed to say that they lack confidence, or that they have moments of doubt, but it can be scary and overwhelming trying to learn what you need to know to represent your clients, and do the marketing and learning necessary to attract more clients, and learn to pay your taxes, and figure out billing and estimate income, and be a present, intentional spouse and parent. There have definitely been moments when I was sure I was failing my family by pursuing this dream.
The support of my family and a strong social and professional network have been instrumental in keeping me going during dark times.
Where do you see the work/venture five years from now?
I like to think that in five years I’ll still be at it, representing my clients, learning new things, and engaging in work and community projects I love.
How do you navigate balancing personal life with work?
Each of us is responsible for his or her own life, and should consider carefully before allocating an unreciprocated amount of that beautiful, limited resource to an employer. I fundamentally believe that my life is important and my time is limited. If something is important and you don't get to do it forever, you make it a priority, and things rather fall into place.
Practically, we have one family calendar so additions are easily seen, and I integrate my work and home calendars often. I have excellent childcare, and decided recently to add dinner prep to her duties, which gives me a huge leg up on the evening routine. I love to cook and I’m way into the whole seasonal local thing, so we sit down to eat together every night we can. My best friends are people I exercise with, so I am able to catch up while working out. Family time is usually something fairly active, too. I do not work on the weekends unless it's absolutely necessary. Weekends are for playing and exploring, eating, running, and visiting.
What do you love about Tacoma/what do you do in non-work time?
What don’t I love about Tacoma? I love Tacoma’s rich history, the intentionality, and the arts, community, and opportunity. This is a great town, and not only because it’s more affordable than Seattle. In my non-work time, I run, cook, eat, exercise, visit with friends, explore, shop a little, and walk around my neighborhood, usually with my family and our black lab-catahoula mix, Commander.
What made you choose Union Club? What has your experience been like and who would you recommend it for?
I chose Union Club because it represents everything I love about Tacoma and dream of for my business. It is historic, beautiful, and intentional.
It is a vision of community space launched in 1888 that continues in new form today. It is very convenient, inspirational, and affordable, and allows me to have a dedicated work space, which I need, at a price point that allows me to keep my overhead low.
Where can people go to learn more about your business?
Find me at the Union Club or at www.EricaDoctorLaw.com