I’ve always loved law students. Their intelligence. Their enthusiasm. Their commitment. I taught law as an adjunct for close to a decade. A single guest lecture I gave on domestic violence at another law school led me to a law student who would change my life: Angela Dunne.
I would become her employer, her mentor, her coach. She would become my role model, my teacher, and the manager of our law firm.
When Angela and I met for the first time at the Flatiron Café her plucky attitude enabled her to ask for what she wanted before the dessert menu was offered. When she asked for a job, I don’t recall scrutinizing her history of accomplishments (of which she had many), her class rank, or her experience in the state legislature. I had no plans to hire, no space to put another employee, and no budget.
We both wanted our careers in law to make a difference in the lives of others. We both wanted our advocacy to empower people who had survived and who wanted to move forward with their lives. We both had boundless enthusiasm for life. We both believed in possibilities.
I hired her on the spot.
I had started a law practice. Then we built a law firm together. Now she runs the firm. We both continue to lead.
I wrote a book. Then we wrote a book together. Last week her book, Patched up Parenting, came off the printing press. We both continue to edit one another’s writing.
When we met I was a mother of teenagers and she was in love with the man she would marry. Eleven years later, in the same year, she and he divorced and I was widowed. Today she navigates single parenting through the teen years and I am in love anew.
By personalities, we might appear unlikely partners. I’m an extrovert who loves to be the first to arrive and the last to leave the party that introvert Angela will politely decline attending at all. My home is full of century old woodwork and vintage; hers is bursting with color and playfulness. She will cozy up to her cats and cross stitch while I head out to a gala.
“We are becoming each other,” we joke. She has taught me that after decades of working I don’t need to justify leaving work early for a massage. Experience has taught her that despite one’s desire to make each and every employee happy every day that running a business makes that an impossibility. We both want the absolute best for our clients, a great culture for our team, and a good life for one another.
We both have become wiser through life’s journey. We have supported dreams coming true for one another. Often, we hold a greater vision for the other than we held for ourselves.
When we met, I was the only name on the door, the chief rainmaker, and the attorney who brought the dollars into the firm. The firm’s future was on my shoulders. Today, Angela is about the same age I was when we met. Now there are eight names on that door and the future of the firm lies with them. Meanwhile, my encore career is so joy-filled that it doesn’t feel like work.
When we are able to say “yes” to empowering people on their path forward in life, we might find them taking you places you never imagined.
Are you willing to ask for what you want?
Is there someone you can support on their path forward?
What would it be like to hold a greater vision of yourself and your future?