This week in Young, Hungry and Committed, Owie Sobers explains what it is like to be married to a successful solo attorney who started her practice immediately after graduating law school.
I’ve been sharing my story in this weekly blog series, but you are only learning half of my truth. The other half is Owie, my husband.
I thought maybe it might be interesting if he told his story about being married to a solo attorney. But, I knew he would sugar coat the truth if I interviewed him so, I asked my friend and Law Firm Suites Sales & Operations Manager, Stephen Perih, to do it for me.
This is his story . . .
How did Vivian come to the conclusion that she was going to start her own law firm?
It was a mutual decision. After graduating law school and passing the exam, she was shopping resumes all over town. She applied everywhere. She didn’t get any bites. There really wasn’t a good fit out there for her.
At one point, she even talked to me about taking a job outside of law – like a finance job. She would have been the worst finance person ever. She is awful at math.
One night over dinner we were talking about our options. After a few drinks, she just blurted out that she was going to start her own firm. I didn’t really know what that meant, but I knew she was going to be successful at whatever she chose. Except finance.
Did you have any concerns?
Honestly. Money. Money is always a concern, especially with her student loans coming due. I wanted to know if she could pull it off and start making money right away. How much overhead would be required. Above all, I needed to know she was committed to this. You know? That she wasn’t just starting her own law firm out of frustration of not being hired by someone else.
Money is a huge concern in most relationships. Speaking of your relationship, did your relationship with Vivian change after she formed Sobers Law, PLLC?
It didn’t at first, but I think that was just because she wasn’t that busy with her own clients when she first started. I mean, she was home at night for dinner. I guess, what changed was stuff like dinners. We stopped going out. We tried to save money wherever we could. Her new firm was eating into my savings. Thankfully, I have a great job.
What do you do?
I work in the Information Technology department of a college. I have pretty regular hours. So did Vivian, when she was working for someone else.
Tell me about the hours. You said that in a different tone. What type of hours does she work?
Steve, she is on all the time. The phone never stops ringing. Actually, sometimes I think it only rings during the time we spend together.
So the hours you spend together… Has your together time decreased since she started her own firm?
The first thing to go is time. It is the first sacrifice. Let me tell you. I don’t like to share. Sometimes I want things to go back to the way they were when she working for someone else. She works from home most of the time, so we are around each other. But she isn’t “home”. She is always working on something.
I can’t even tell you how she works. She is “on” all the time. There is no quit in my girl. She gives 100% all of the time. I sometimes just wish the 100% was to me. It used to be. Not anymore. She gives 100% to her clients but still finds a way to give me an extra 50%.
Steve, you know her. Did you think she was the type of wife who tries makes her husband lunch everyday? She does. It may be at 7 AM when I am still asleep, but it’s on the counter or in the fridge for when I leave for work. It reminds me of her. She is never there when I pick it up, but that is because she works like a dog.
She doesn’t make lunch. You are lying.
I didn’t say it was “lunch” lunch, but I get a sandwich.
Was there ever a point when you questioned the viability of her law firm?
The answer I should say is “no.” But you told me I had to be honest. There was not a specific moment, but the thought crossed my mind. It still does sometimes. The thing is, I never questioned her ability to be successful. I sometimes question the “when” of success. I want her to be able to turn down cases. I want her to be able to turn down per diem work. It is a waiting game. The necrophilia case is really helping her. Her client was on TV. Seriously, TV. Crazy.
How does it make you feel to know that you sometimes come second to her job?
Listen. I have no agenda. I have no ego. I know what she is doing is a process. It’s a long haul. I read enough stories online to know what a solo lawyer does. I know I cannot get her undivided attention for 24 hours anymore. I have to settle for 4 hours, at best.
She is going through the growing pains now. I cannot wait for the luxury of my wife turning down cases. I know I am sacrificing in the now so that she can dictate her hours in the future. I am willing to come second because I know in our hearts, we always come first.
What is the biggest misconception you think non-lawyers have about you being married to a lawyer?
That’s funny. When Viv passed the bar exam, you know, all my co-workers knew she was taking it. I told them she passed. They all asked when I was going to retire.
Most people don’t get what Viv does. They don’t understand that being a solo is different than being a lawyer. You know? They watch Law & Order. They think it is all about going to court, screaming “Objection!” and the case is done. Dun. Dun. Dun.
They don’t understand some of Vivian’s cases can go on for two years.
Lastly, what advice would you have for someone married to a lawyer considering going solo?
My advice is going to sound cheesy. Be supportive. You married this person. You have to be there for them. You know? I think Viv’s decisions are my own. We share them. She has my last name. My last name is on her law firm’s name. We are in this together.
In a way, this is our law firm. Her success is our future. Just be there for them. It may get ugly. Fights may happen, but support their dream. It pays off.
Vivian Sobers is a commercial litigator pursuing a solo law practice right out of law school. She is a client in Law Firm Suites’ Virtual Office Program. Vivian’s weekly blog series “Young, Hungry and Committed” documents the trials and tribulations of a young attorney navigating her way through the challenging world of self-employed legal practice.