I graduated from law school and started what I thought was the dream job – a stable, well-paying job with a large firm, doing employment litigation and workers’ compensation. After three years in this world, my life included: traveling hours through LA traffic to court appearances, sitting in court for hours, being hit on by opposing counsel or told they were only settling a case with me “because I looked at them with those eyes.” (gross) Sadly, I was used to this happening sometimes as it is a “male-dominated profession” but I couldn’t shake the one thing I kept noticing as I looked around the courtroom every day…the VAST majority of people around me were MISERABLE. All people cared about was how much they could bill for each event, arguing over things that didn’t matter in the case, and when they could leave for the day. After three years, I felt my passion and excitement for practicing law dwindle…was I becoming one of those cynical, negative lawyers who had accepted their fate of billing hours behind a desk all day? I was terrified of the idea of looking up in 30 years realizing I’d let my entire career be run on my bonuses and paychecks, forgetting about who I was and what I actually wanted to do. I knew I needed a change. But what? I loved practicing law, and I didn’t want to give it up – but what I was doing just wasn’t the type of work I was meant to do. I liked the people at the firm, my paycheck was great, and some of the work I was doing was okay…was this the best it got?
My husband and I got married last year, and I am now currently 21 weeks pregnant with our first!! (IT’S A BOY! SO excited to meet this little nugget you guys.) As I started thinking through how my life would work, I kept coming to the solution that my current firm life just did NOT jive with the job of being a present mommy. My firm celebrated another female partner who took ONE WEEK off when she had her baby, and was in court, literally in trial, the next week. Was this the standard of what was expected? I would never judge another woman for her choices, especially surrounding decisions on how to parent and make work-life balance work, but this just wasn’t what I wanted. How was I going to be on the road or in court all day with an infant at home? How would I nurse? Who would watch our baby? Would I truly only see him evenings and weekends? This was just not negotiable for me…I knew what I needed to do. But I still loved practicing law, and was not willing to give up that piece of me!
In an attempt to shake things up, I thought more about other aspects of my life I loved: running, exercising, coming up with fun and healthy recipes, and helping other people get their diet on track. I became certified as a health coach, and started down the path of setting up an online health coaching business. While I did like a lot of aspects of this, I found that each attempt I made at signing clients was met with other coaches asking me legal questions! I would answer their questions, and feel so happy I had made a difference in their business, and made something less stressful for them. Several people gently suggested to me that I consider changing my path from health coach to a lawyer for online entrepreneurs. Truthfully, I loved this idea, and kept returning to the feeling of energy and passion I gained from helping others protect the content and programs they’d worked so hard to create.
Today, I run www.christywesterfeld.com, an online business dedicated to helping online entrepreneurs, bloggers, and coaches protect their content and programs online, and help make their websites legally compliant. Most online entrepreneurs know there are legal steps that need to be taken, but many are well on their way to a six-figure business before they make the decision to invest in keeping their website and business protected and compliant. While I do understand this mentality, I strongly encourage you to think about this differently!! Getting your legal stuff squared away should be among the FIRST things you do!
Understanding the legal documents that need to be put in place is a key piece to successfully running your business. While this is not legal advice, and I cannot provide legal advice or act as your attorney, it is information that I hope is helpful!