On this week’s episode of the Wealthy Woman Lawyer Podcast, we speak with Pamela DeNeuve, Founder of Pamela DeNeuve, Lawyer & Law Firm Peak Performance Strategist. Although Pamela is not a lawyer herself, she’s spent more than 38,000 hours helping lawyers become better business owners. She specializes in working with attorneys who are experiencing challenges or transitioning their careers, teaching them to fire their inner child and step, as adults, into leadership.
Pamela says, “When someone comes to work with me, the first thing I want to know is what makes them tick. I want to know what coping skills they have, what have they overcome, and what kind of basic operating principle they have developed. And I’ll tell you, when we find out what their basic operating principle is, what they overcame, and how they won or how they lost, we find it’s exactly in their law practice today.”
We chat about Pamela’s journey as a personal coach, as well as:
- Why anxiety and trauma are common among legal professionals
- Why female lawyers often take on more than they should for clients
- How trauma can put a cap on your entrepreneurial vision
- The effects of societal racism on mental and emotional health
- And more
Mentioned in this episode:
Davina Frederick: Hello and welcome to the Wealthy Woman Lawyer Podcast. Our mission is to provide thought-provoking, powerful and practical information to help you in creating your own sustainable wealth-generating law firm without overwork or overwhelm so you can live your best life. I’m your host, Davina Frederick, and I’m here today with Pamela DeNeuve, founder of Pamela DeNeuve Lawyer and Law Firm Peak Performance Strategist.
Since 1992, Pamela has spent more than 38,000 hours giving lawyers a proven and successful strategy to build seven-figure law practices and get the right clients in the door. She specializes in working with lawyers who are experiencing challenges or transitioning their careers. So welcome, Pamela. It’s such a joy to have you here today on the Wealthy Woman Lawyer Podcast.
Pamela DeNeuve: Thank you, Davina. Thank you so much for having me. It’s my pleasure.
Davina: Great. So tell us. You have been at this a long time and you have put in a lot of work. So I want to hear, let’s go way back and start with your journey to becoming a lawyer and working as a lawyer and what led you to do what it is that you’re doing today?
Pamela: Okay, well, first of all, I’m not a lawyer. I’m a coach for lawyers.
Davina: Okay. Thanks for clearing that up.
How Pamela Came to Work With Legal Professionals
Pamela: Yeah, that’s good. It’s good. And it’s really good because I really get to have an outside perspective, while actually being immersed in the legal profession working with so many lawyers, hundreds of lawyers over the years, but actually having that outside perspective, which is very helpful.
But I began working with attorneys back in 1992, as I said, and I started in Santa Monica, California, and it was not intentional that I was going to work with lawyers. I opened a practice and had a beautiful office on Wilshire Boulevard. And lawyers found me. And always my practice was like 60% lawyers. So, you know, I wasn’t really at that time aware of all of the issues that were facing attorneys at that time.
And I actually had an attorney that came to me saying that they were suicidal and I didn’t really understand, at that point, all of the things that I do understand now about why lawyers are so stressed. And so I just really learned about them. I had a couple, they were both attorneys and city managers. They both were, they were lawyers, city managers and law firm practices and all sorts of opportunities to learn more and more about attorneys. Back then, Davina, people didn’t have coaches really.
They didn’t have all the hierarchies and things they have now. And but I was in California in the LA area so it wasn’t like, do you have a coach? It’s like who’s your coach? So that was really an eye-opener. There was an attorney and she came to me and she, like I said, she was very successful, lived in a very successful Marina Del Rey, which was a very prestigious area at that time, probably still is. And she just said, I just can’t go on. I can’t go on this way. And she had a lot of emotional issues that were facing her.
And I said, Well, you know, maybe you should go to a therapist or a psychiatrist. And she was saying, Pamela, I’ve gone to, I’m on medication, I’ve gone to a therapist and I still have these feelings. And my friend said that you were the person I should come to. Please see me. So I did see her and wow, her whole life and her whole law practice completely transformed. And it just let me know that I was doing the right thing serving the right people.
Davina: Right, right. And you make such a great point because, you know, sometimes we think we, the problem is us. We have anxiety and maybe there’s something wrong with us and it’s an internal thing. And certainly, there are people that do have those type of issues but sometimes it could be that you’re living, you’re a normal person living in an insane world.
Maybe the one that you’ve created for yourself and that your business may be the very thing that is causing you anxiety. I have a friend who is a coach and she has started, she was a therapist before she became a coach. And she really started exploring and researching and writing about how oftentimes, people create businesses that then traumatize them.
They take their trauma from childhood and instead of bringing it forth by the people they attract in their relationships, they create a business that harms them in a certain specific kind of way. And they don’t realize that and they don’t understand why they can’t break through in their business and why they can’t be successful. But it’s because the way that they’ve set things up in their business makes it so hard for them to get to that next level of success. I mean, have you seen that kind of thing in some of your clients you’ve worked with?
Learn About Your Basic Operating Principle
Pamela: Yes. So one of the things that was very key that I, you know, dealing with neuroscience and a lot of things like that, I’m going to give you a little, a few figures here. Okay, so we have between 50 and 80,000 thoughts per day, okay? Which is about between 2100 and 3000 thoughts per hour. And 80% of those thoughts is proven by science to be negative and 95% of those are repetitive.
That means that we had 80% of our thoughts were negative and the next day we have the same thoughts. But here’s the kicker, we’re only aware of 5% of our thoughts. Only 5% of our thoughts are conscious and the other 95% are subconscious. In the work that I do, similar to the coach you just spoke about, is we really have to get to the root cause. And so this is information, according to the National Science Foundation, that we have all these thoughts, but these thoughts are running our lives.
So when someone comes to work with me, the first thing we do is I want to know what makes them tick, because science also shows us that our personalities are pretty much developed by the time we’re seven. We are, what we think of ourselves, our self-esteem, our self-worth, where we think we fit in with the world, our dynamics in the male and female, dynamic, patriarchal, all of those things are hardwired in our brain before we’re seven years old.
So, therefore, we grew up, you know, my clients, they grow up, and they don’t really realize it, but they have created their practice within the paradigm of what they learned before the age of seven. But 95% of that information that they’re using to develop their practice and practice law and develop relationships is really subconscious. And so what we do is we go back to the first house they lived in before the age of seven. I want to know what are their coping, what coping skills did they have? What did they overcome? What kind of personality? I call it a basic operating principle. What kind of basic operating principle did they develop?
And I’ll tell you, Davina, when we find out what their basic operating principle is and what they overcame and how they won or how they lost or whatever, it’s exactly in their law practice today. And so once they have a conscious awareness, now this information, once you go back to the first house, is no longer in it. It’s no longer that 95%. They now know what it is. And so once they find out what it is, okay, this is your basic operating principle or they realize, now go back in your life for a week to 10 days and watch yourself do it.
Davina: Right. It must be ao shocking and illuminating to step back and see your seven-year-old self running your business.
Pamela: Right. And so they’re really, really, really shocked that that is happening. There was one, she’s an older woman now, but she just kept getting chronically sick. She couldn’t get well. She just couldn’t, didn’t know why she was always sick. And as she got older, she was more and more debilitated. And she went back to her first house and she’s, like I said, she was older. She grew up in the UK, and it was during World War Two.
And her parents took her to go live with an aunt because, you know, they were bombing London, you know? So they wanted to protect her. But he had never, she was an only child. She had never been away from, separated from her parents. And plus, her aunt was mean. She didn’t really want to have her.
And so she got so sick that she almost died because she was so traumatized being away from her parents. So the aunt called the parents and said, Come and see your daughter, you know, before she dies. She’s getting ready to die. Well, when her parents arrived, she perked up and she was, she didn’t die. She got well got healthy. But she made a basic operating principle of if I get sick, they will come. That’s what’s she hardwired in her brain that she didn’t know. And so there she was, as an adult, getting sick and she didn’t know why she was always sick.
Davina: Right. And so what changes then was she able to make from that?
Pamela: Okay, so what you say, let me back up. She’s like, she was number one, she was furious. A lot of times you find out it’s like she’s furious like, Oh my god, you mean I’ve been sick all these times psychosomatic or whatever because of, you know, I felt like this would save my life on a subconscious level? So she started working out. She went hiking, she found a boyfriend, I mean, everything in her life changed. Her practice, you know, started to thrive. You know, she figured out what days she wanted to practice while she was older, and she didn’t want to really practice law full time.
But she was able to do that. And so once a person knows what subconscious is running them, then everything can change. That’s why I tell them go back in your life for seven to 10 days. Don’t change your behavior. Because what we resist persists. Just watch yourself do it. And there’s good news and bad news. The good news is, you will never be able to do that again without knowing what you’re doing. You will never be able to do that. And that’s also the bad news.
The bad news is, it becomes painful if you try to do. So that’s why people’s whole lives and whole law practice really transform in six months. In about six months, it takes about six months of being conscious of what you’re doing to be able to change those patterns and habits in their law practice that are making them so unhappy. And kind of like what you said Davina, it traumatized, they created a situation where they’re repeating a trauma over and over again. And that is the trap. Because again, 95% of our thoughts are repetitive whether you know it or not.
Davina: Right, right. Wow, that is so illuminating for people. And I know that that’s, I know a lot of people discover these things about themselves in therapy that they, you know, they go through therapy and they discover these repeat behaviors, but I think oftentimes, people don’t think about it in terms of their business. They think about it in terms of maybe, you know, their interpersonal relationships, marriages and things like that.
But you can also create those same situations in your business. Because in your business, you’re working with other people, you’re working with your team, and you’re working with clients. And all of those are relationships. And the relationship patterns we learn and the behaviors we learn from ourselves for ourselves, you know, are bound to show up in ways that we just never even expect.
So that is so interesting. Tell me how you came to, I know how you came to work with lawyers, but tell me how you came to do this type of work, this level of coaching, where you’re really examining sort of mentally and emotionally what’s going on, as opposed to, you know, maybe just coming in with strategy work. Did it start out that way for you, or is this something that you learned over time that would be beneficial to your clients?
Pamela: Well, you know, Davina, what I discovered was that everyone seemed to have like an Achilles heel. And in their law practice, I really found that that was the case. You know, for example, you know, and I’m going to get to your question, is like one of my clients who graduated from one of the, you know, top law schools in the country, had a very traumatic relationship with her father.
So there she, when she graduates even though she has this wonderful skill, she cannot hold her own with male partners. She cannot hold her own with her male partners. She cannot hold herself with the opposing counsel. She has all of these things and it’s all developed, you know, all repetitive. So the reason that I developed this method was probably 99.9% of the people who come to me have been in therapy for like, five, 10 years or so.
And so it’s one thing to understand it. Okay, I understand this. But the behavior, but changing behavior is where the coaching comes in. So for me, if I take a client and I say, okay, they come in because I asked them to come to me with three things they’d like to change in their law practice. And they say, Oh, I, you know, I’m not rainmaking, or I’m not billing or I, you know, I, you know, my marriage is bad, and it’s affecting my law practice.
And we’re arguing and, you know, whatever the issues are, right? I’ve seen everything. There’s nothing I haven’t seen. Now, it would be to me, a disservice to say, Okay, well, now I want you to make 10 calls a day, call me and, you know, that’s behavior modification. So now they’re pushing themselves to do a behavior when it hasn’t been like why is this so difficult for you? It’ll be a behavior modification that, you know, as long as I’m there to kind of point away or whatever, maybe they’ll do it, but then even over time that will get old.
So really, I believe it has to come from the inside out. So inside out means you need, my clients need to have a conscious awareness of why they do what they do. And once my client had a conscious awareness that she was basically afraid of men and afraid to stand on her own with men, but once she understands that, so like, for example, she had a case where this male was going to take most of the money and she had done all the work and it happened to over and over again. And so, you know, so okay, we had to say okay, this is why, you understand why you’re doing this.
But however, this is what you’re going to do. So, you know, we practiced, we helped her to say what she was going to say. And she felt because of her childhood, she felt like Thumbelina versus the Jolly Green Giant, you know, or the Incredible Hulk. It’s how it felt for her. But once she was able to, okay, this is, you know, some old tapes I have. And then she was able to follow my coaching and practice what she was going to say. And then she actually said it, even though her legs were trembling, and then she got the deal. She got the deal. And even though the male was mad, she understood that that was okay for him to be mad.
That she held her own in her business. And so those are the kinds of things that it gives you, gives them the double power. It’s like having double or triple the power when they start to take these actions that are fearful. And so those are the things that really helped by knowing why, where it came from and why you’re doing that. So women who come to me, they are women, they’re usually very high achievers, graduate from really great schools, but they hit some sort of wall. And generally, I’ll tell you, although I had a really great, a client that was in her 30s and she was having migraine headaches. She was working with a firm and she would like go really thick.
You know, she worked 60 hours, she worked 80 hours, and then she’d have a migraine. And then she would be, you know, incapacitated for days or weeks at a time. And she just, she came to me and said, You know, I want to, I can’t keep going like this. And we were able to correct that and realize that, you know, in her case, you know, and we all, you know, we all have trauma. I had trauma as a child. I mean, and it may, even with people that have great childhoods, you know, I’ve had people that were in the Bristol Myers Squibb limit, you know, not the direct descendants, but very wealthy, come from very wealthy families.
But we all, you know, we don’t know what happens behind closed doors, right? And so we all develop, what the point is, is that we all develop coping skills that we don’t even know we have. So they come to me and they say, you know, I burned out. I can’t, I’m sabotaging myself. I’ve hit a wall. I don’t enjoy practicing law anymore. And I need to find, you know, I do want to continue practicing law. And can you help me?
Davina: Right, right.
Pamela: I do have like a judge I was working with and she had a practice. And she had, and she was, you know, municipal. And you know, she wanted to figure out, she said, you know, I want to make money while I’m not working. And I’m all for that. S
o we were able to figure out for her, how she could take PI cases and have those handled within the firm that she was associated with so that she was getting her, you know, finder’s fee or bringing it to the firm and doing that. And she’s just, you know, we just talked not too long ago and she’s like, yeah, I didn’t think that that was possible. I didn’t think that when you said that I could make money, you know, have other people making money for me at that time. You know, I’m a lawyer. I didn’t think, or, I’m a judge, I didn’t think outside the box.
So it’s good to help them to think outside the box because once you realize that she was taking, she was always taking care of everybody but herself which is really very characteristic of women in general, let alone lawyers which are double caretakers. So they run themselves ragged, you know, run up a law practice trying to be everything to everybody for the firm and then coming home if they have a mate or a husband or children or aging parents, you know, and they’re wondering, oh, why, you know, why am I not being Superwoman? Or, you know what’s wrong with me?
Davina: It’s interesting that you said attorneys are double caretakers because, especially women attorneys, because I think that most women attorneys don’t think of themselves that way. They think of themselves as, you know, the business people and they’re, they don’t have a lot of, you know, they’re very practical about how we need to work through and resolve this problem. And so they may not even be thinking of themselves as caretakers in the workplace and see how that’s showing up for them in their workplace and how they maybe are taking on way more than what they should be taking on for their clients. Have you seen that?
Pamela: Yeah, I do. Because number one, you know, it’s like, women lawyers may feel that they have to prove themselves more than the males. And if they’re in a firm, if they have their own firm, the clients that come in, you know, they have to feel like they’re, you know, they’re
Davina: They have the answers to all the questions.
Pamela: Right. That they have to, that we have this certain profile. I had a client and she, when we first started working together, I said she had her own firm. I said, Well, you have one broken down paralegal. And she didn’t like me saying that, but basically she had a part-time paralegal that she was, had been with her for so many years and, you know, she didn’t want to let her go. But she only wanted to work part-time. And she was like making this attorney’s life miserable because she wouldn’t leave because she had to go and take care of her mother or whatever. And, you know, she had, without preparing the things you needed for court.
And so, to get her to make that change was very difficult. So one of the things I do, I’m like, really in there, like the practices with my clients. So, you know, I helped her, you know, to Okay, we’re going to start hiring people, you know, we do Zoom, you know, she interviews them. I also help her to choose the people she’s going to hire. If she, you know, that’s something that I do, you know, to have, especially if you’re a solopreneur.
And we know by the time, within over, a little over a year, she had three paralegals. She had that kind of business. She also said, I want to work for high profile. I want to work for high profile athletes. I said, perfect. So we developed a marketing plan on that. And sure enough, she started getting these high profile cases. She had the work to justify that. And in that period of time, she also was able to buy our own office building. So, but you see how she was stuck. She was stuck in that one relationship.
Davina: I think that’s very common with solos and smaller firms, and particularly with women. One of the things that I have found to be so interesting in doing this work is that, you know, there are no big law firms that are owned and run and started by women. And when I talk with solos now who start their own business because they don’t want to work for big law, you know, what we call big law, because it’s not been a satisfactory experience for a lot of women. And they see that. And so they say I want to start my own firm.
But what I found interesting is the cap on the vision that so many women attorneys have when they have their firm. Like you just mentioned somebody here. She’s been working for years with her paralegal. She’s burned her paralegal out. She’s not happy when you tell her that. And then when you start doing the work and turning that around, you see the very quick expansion of that. And do you find that maybe some of these traumas that we don’t realize we have are causing us to cap our vision and not be able to see the possibilities for what we can create? It’s like there’s a limitation on what I can have.
Be Aware of Your Inner Dialogue
Pamela: Right. So if you keep in mind, you know, I’m going to go back to the original model and then I go back to the model with my clients, okay? You made, you know, basically, the decision of who you are and what you’re, you know, what you’re capable of before you were seven. And you’re having a dialogue in your mind, 95%, that you don’t even know you’re having.
If you want to know what your, what conversation you’re having, look at what’s going on in your life. But you really do need someone outside of you, you know, like the woman who had the broken down paralegal or the judge who had a 30-year practice that she could, of contacts, that she could generate income from and not do the work. But she couldn’t, she didn’t think of herself like that. It’s like, where, what did I put my hands on? What did I do, you know?
Davina: it’s always the doing. It’s always getting, so many women who their favorite phrase is, I’ll just do my damn self because it’s going to be faster or easier, whatever, than it is for me to, it’s and they get caught up in the doing part of it and that’s where the value is in their minds. My value is in the doing. Yeah.
Pamela: Right. And control. You know, like, it’s like you have to, you know, if you’re going to have a practice that’s going to be outside of you, you have to learn to trust and let go of the control. And that is something I really have with women. Because a lot of things, you know, they don’t trust. You know, I mean, I, you know, I just bring this up because it’s very common. Many, many women have been molested as children. What do you think your thing is to do? I’m going to control everything around me. You know, I’ve been in this or I’ve been dominated by a big brother or father or whatever. And we’re given
Davina: Even instability in the family. And even instability of any kind in the family home when you’re a child, any sort of instability. You feel like there’s a control. You, like, if I can just control it, it will be okay.
Pamela: Right. And if you think about it, yes. And if you think about it, you know, to become a lawyer, you know, it’s not easy for women. It’s not easy for anyone. It’s not easy for women. The stress at law schools, you know, because I study all of this, the stress for law school is 96% of the students are stressed, extremely stressed, versus 70% of med students, versus 43% of grad school students. So, you know, if one did not have that drive and that control to finish law school and to do all the things that is competition.
You know, law school is all about, as you know, it’s all about competition. And so you have to have a big control just to make it. Just to make it you have to claw yourself through school and graduate and then pass the bar. So that took a lot of control. You had to do it yourself. So now you’re saying to grow my practice, I have to depend on someone else? Like, I couldn’t trust anyone else to take my, take the bar for me. I couldn’t have taken anyone to turn in my papers or take the exam.
Davina: Law firm culture supports that as well. Because one of the things that was so scary, I remember for me when I started my own practice out of law school, is you feel like you’re going to have to turn in your bar card at any moment because there’s so many rules. There’s professional rules of conduct. There’s the rules of the court. There’s the rules of this local jurisdiction. There’s both state laws, federal laws.
And you’re afraid that at any moment you’re threatened all through law school, when, you know, that you can lose your license if somebody else does this on your watch in your firm. So there’s a very real aspect to that thread that already adds to your own. So the minute you start hiring people you think if that paralegal screws up, it can cost me all this that I’ve worked for and I haven’t even got to pay off the student loans, you know?
Pamela: Right, right. Absolutely. But the training, you know, it’s that it’s, you know, if you really, you know, it’s not like you throw someone out, you know, I have one now. It’s okay, let’s, you know, you got to start, you know, we’re training, here’s a training program, let’s make a list of the priorities of things, you’re going to slowly turn over to this person.
And, you know, now, a lot of paralegals are virtual, so that makes it, you know, in the beginning, yes, it’s a lot of work. You got to double-check on them. You know, they, you have to be able to learn to trust them. Obviously, you’re not gonna hire someone and risk your practice, hoping that they know how to do it. But once you gain that trust, you have to put in the time to develop that trust.
You have to train them to do it the way you want it done so that then you have someone, it’s like my client, the one that had hired three paralegals, and we had a company meeting, had a company coaching session with her and her staff. And, you know, I just, when we got off the call, I said I am so proud of you because these women you’ve hired have your back. They have your back. And she’s the one that’s going on and building a law practice beyond anything she could have even imagined that she would have created.
Davina: And that’s really a skill set that you have to learn too. I mean, I think you’ve seen there’s so many people that sort of have this expectation on themselves that they’re supposed to just know how to run a law practice when they, you know, just because they should. They’re lawyers, they should know how to run a law practice, not really taking into account that there are a whole set of skills that other people make complete professions out of, like marketing, right?
And so to have the expectation on yourself that you’re going to be the expert marketer and you’re going to be the expert, you know, whatever other aspects of running the firm, a manager or leader, right? When you haven’t had training in that and, you know, that can have a huge impact on that pressure that we put on ourselves. You know, when you have somebody who says, you know, you don’t have to carry all these bags. You have to have a vision, you know, and make sure that it comes to pass, but it doesn’t mean you’re the one who has to do all of it.
You Don’t Have to Do It All
Pamela: Right. You know, Davina, you’re making such a good point because lawyers are trained to practice law. They’re not business people. I mean, there’s all the aspects of running a business that has to be learned, you know, by trust, trial and error unless you take a business course. right? How to run a business.
So, you know, a lot of that, so you really, that’s why, you know, getting support, getting a coach, I was just talking to a client of mine, and they are, you know, quarantined because they’re in Atlanta. And so we were talking about, okay, you know, okay, let’s talk about you getting the help you need. And let’s talk about who you need to hire. And let’s talk about how to get your Google ranking up. So you need to have that, like, all of my clients. I have someone that builds their website.
Davina: How many lawyers have you met who say I built my own website? And then you’re like, why, but why?
Pamela: Well, because they’re on a budget, really. But I like I have a guy, I mean, he’s a little more now but like for under $500, he built phenomenal websites. And one of my clients had, her place was going to charge her $5,000 for a website. My guy did it for $1000. So, you know, money is a concern. But, you know, that’s why you have to have, you got to have support. You know, you’ve got to have someone who’s in there and is invested with you, especially if you have a solo practice.
Because there’s so many things, it’s like, you can’t have eyes behind your head. So you really need to have that person who can be there with you, you know, a lot of my clients have said, I feel like you’re here right there in my practice because I don’t, I talk to my clients a couple of times a week. I break it down because I think that, you know, it can be lonely, it can be a lot of pressure.
And so having shorter calls, you know, and kind of checking in making sure that they’re accountable, making sure that they’re able to do the things they’re afraid to do is important. Because, and I just wanted to say this, is that, you know, the mental health part is very, very important. I was honored to be a peer reviewer for the Lawyer Wellbeing Report that was published by the ABA in 2017.
And, you know, and I really, really am concerned and an advocate for women lawyers who are having, who are, you know, breaking because of the stress because it’s an epidemic proportion of the stress that lawyers experience. And it’s not just the person. There’s nothing wrong with the person, not wrong with a woman lawyer. It’s the nature of the beast. And so acknowledging that. 6.7% is what, I think that’s a little low, for the general population when lawyers stress is 28%?
Davina: Yeah, yeah. You know, that’s something right now with you and I recording this right at the time that there’s been a lot of protests going on over in the United States over the death of George Floyd, the murder of George Floyd. And I know a lot of the women listening to this podcast are attorneys who own their own practice and they’re women of color. And so in addition to this kind of growing your own practice and the racism and issues that we already have in our society that complicate that.
To give an example, one of the things that so many women law firm owners of color tell me, women lawyers of color tell me and tell others and sharing in social groups about how they’re so often mistaken for the court reporter. And I’m not sure that they’re actually mistaken. I think oftentimes that’s said to them deliberately to make them feel disempowered when they go into a courtroom.
And so you add on top of that stress that you feel from starting a law firm, from being a lawyer to begin with where you already feel like everything you do is gonna be the wrong thing, you know, because it’s a difficult, it’s a challenging profession, right? And you need to know that 30-year-old business, then on top of that, the racism in our society and now you’ve really got the makings of pressure and the effect that that has on your mental and emotional health. Have you experienced that in working with some of your clients, have those conversations?
Make It Your Finest Hour
Pamela: Well, yeah, You know, like I’ve had some of my clients who say, you know, they’ll be with opposing counsel where they’ll say girly or some sort of denigrating something to say, well, you’re not really a lawyer. And, you know, a lot of times, you know, even, you know, unfortunately, even judges have, you know, a certain viewpoint. Like, I have a client and she says that, you know, that she felt, she didn’t feel fairly treated when she came before this particular judge because he always went towards the white male.
And, you know, let’s just okay, like race is like this huge thing where today with all of this is going on, anyone of color, we actually re-feel the trauma. You know, we feel the trauma. The things that we say, okay, next, you know, you just, you can’t dwell on it because otherwise, you know, you would buckle. You just say the next, the next.
But if you step down a moment and you kind of think of all the years and all the decades that you’ve been treated unfairly, you know, it can be very debilitating and can be very depressing. And, you know, I just say, this is what I say, that this can be our finest hour. You know, this can be, and with the patriarchal system, and the legal profession is a patriarchal, you know, profession.
Davina: Yeah, it’s a huge issue. It’s a huge issue.
Pamela: Yes. So, I say, if our, make it our finest hour. You know, we could go there, we could go there and, you know, every one of us, you could go there and be angry and bitter and depressed and what’s the use? I had a young law student, I also help, I also have another business where I help women with heartache, believe it or not.
But she’s a young, she just graduated from law school and she’s in New Jersey. She’s a social, into social justice. She Hispanic, but she was saying, she’s a Latina, and she said, I was like, I’m graduating out of school. I’m doing social justice, I thought about what’s the use? What am I doing all this for when there’s so much unfairness? And, you know, and I say, let’s just make this our finest hour. Don’t buckle down under it. Don’t drink too much.
Don’t eat too much. Make sure you exercise, drink water, just pull your head above it all because this is a historic moment. And so you will be able to say, I soared or I’ve put my stake in the ground and I said, I’m not going to allow these circumstances in these institutions and these people to dim my light. I’m gonna let my light shine. I’m going to go out there and I’m going to take care of myself. Because one of the things that women do, I’ll tell you, is we just self destruct ourselves. We drink too much. Alcohol abuse in the legal profession, 21%.
That means, you know, if you have 100 people, 20 are abusing alcohol. So we eat or we will do overeating or we’ll become anorexic or we will become dehydrated. We are the first ones, we neglect ourselves as women. And if we don’t put ourselves first, we can’t be any good to anybody. We can’t be good to our clients. We can’t be good to our, in the community or in the social system or the social structure. So that’s why I say let’s make this our finest hour as opposed to saying, you know,
Davina: I think that’s great advice. And I am a big believer of putting your own oxygen mask on first, you know, as they say, because you’re no good to anybody else until you take care of your mental, emotional, and physical health first. And I know you are a big proponent of that. You’ve published, you know, probably over 125 articles on that subject, haven’t you?
Pamela: Absolutely. I have. I just keep preaching it because, you know, and I, you know, I have a client who, the other day, you know, what I said was, you know, they were doing, we’ve been working a while, and they’ve done a lot with their practice and she’s doing a lot of great things and let go of a person she had working with her for 18 years who was bitter and toxic and, you know, denigrated her every time she came to the office. Always had something nasty to say. Finally got rid of her.
And so we said, okay, I said you know what, I have to say this to you. If you don’t take care of your health and your weight and your wellbeing, you’re not going to make it. Because she’s, you know, she’s 60. And lawyers are, you know, before lawyers might be retired by 50 or 60. But today, a lot of them can’t retire, will never retire. And so, you know, you have to take care of yourself and you have to stop doing things that are self-destructive. And believe it or not, she lost, I told her to get this app, and she lost 25 pounds in a month.
Davina: Yeah, yeah. That is something that, I turned 40 when I was in law school and so I hit the 40s where I was always, my grandmother’s word for me was lanky. That’s, I was always very slender. And then I hit the 40s and I was going to law school and I gained 30 pounds in law school. When I started my own practice, it was a battle because you’re just sitting all the time and you’re very stressed.
And so we get home at night and you just feel so drained. And all you want is that glass of wine or those munchies in front of the couch or whatever it is. And the last thing you want to do is exercising. The profession itself makes it a challenge for that as well. And it really takes a decision. It takes a decision to say, this is not sustainable for the long term. This is not what I want for myself for the rest of my life.
You know, if you want to, I want to live a joyful and healthy life for the rest of my life. So it’s super, super important to take care of ourselves first. Before we wrap up, I do want to touch on, you actually have worked with clients not just in the United States, but you’ve helped them expand. You had a client that you, I know of that you really helped expand to Hong Kong and Shanghai. So they took their firm International. Tell us about that aspect of your practice.
Pamela: Well, this was someone who had been associated with a large firm, so they knew, you know, had contacts in those areas. And today the world is flat. I mean, if, when a person wants to do International, I mean, it’s, you know, it’s just really the same thing as if you were contacting someone if you were in LA and New York. So just like really contacting and going over, now, this person, she actually went over there and had meetings. But I mean, you can now, you can’t even go there.
So you have to do it all, the playing field is level so you can make these contacts all over the world. I had a very close partnership with the Bar Association in South Africa. And I did workshops for the women lawyers there. And that is an extremely patriarchal system and they were, like, so appreciative to be able to have, you know, someone to talk about these issues with and get to get coaching on. You know, and the Bar Association there was blessing them getting this information and wanted them, as women lawyers, to be able to go out there and spread their wings.
Davina: Right, right. And you know, one of the things, you know, my career, I was in marketing for years before I became an attorney. And so I was working in the 90s, you know, in marketing. And it’s so amazing to me and so awesome to consider the advantages we have now in reaching out to people throughout the world because we have all these social networks now there are great tools to use for connecting and reaching out to people in other countries, other states or whatever it is you choose to do to really expand your network.
And, of course, now with this global pandemic, people are getting much more comfortable with using video conferencing and these types of resources. So it’ll be interesting to see when this, hopefully when this is over what it will be like for people in their businesses, and if they’ll continue to travel the way that they have in their business, or if they’ll get kind of spoiled with using these tools that we have available.
Because, you know, when we started out in the 90s doing this kind of stuff, I mean, imagine if we’d had this kind of situation in the late 90s or early 2000s. I mean, even when I started my practice in 2007, Facebook was just a new thing and LinkedIn was new and Instagram hadn’t even been created yet. So it’s amazing what we have now available to us.
Pamela: I’ll tell you a funny story. One of my clients who’s a judge. You know, I do most of my meetings on Zoom. I’ve been doing it on Zoom for like the last four or five years. You know, so my client, you know, she’s never used Zoom. So then when the pandemic struck, she was the Zoom expert. The whole court system, how, they’re doing all of their trials, all their court on Zoom, and she says, Yeah, you know, cuz I’ve been working with you all that time, I was the point person to teach everyone how to use it.
Davina: At this point, she’s the old pro. That’s fantastic. So I really appreciate you being here today and talking with us. You’ve shared so much and I think you’ve given our audience so much to think about. And I’ll be curious how many people, you know, stop and they start thinking about, gosh, how is my seven-year-old showing up and running my practice? Because I think that’s really going to cause a lot of people to think about that. And so super, super helpful and we really appreciate it today. Tell us how we can find out more information and connect with you if we want to connect with you?
Pamela: Okay, I’m going to tell you my email first. It’s email@example.com. So if you want to connect with me on LinkedIn, you would need to have my email address. So that’s firstname.lastname@example.org. My website is pameladeneuve.com.
Davina: Yay. So that’s simple enough. Spell your last name for us so that we, so that everybody knows that.
Pamela: Okay. My last name is spelled D like David E, in like Nancy, E U V like Victor, E. DeNeuve. And then Pamela, of course, is PAMELA. But Pamela DeNeuve, DENEUVE like Victor E.com.
Davina: Great, great. We’ll also have it, you know, written on the title and in the show notes. So if anybody is not where they can write that down, you can look there and it will be there for you. And I just wanted to make sure that everybody was, you know, knew that. It’s your name, like my name is my email address and it’s also kind of a, my name is kind of a challenging name too, so. Well, thanks so much for being here and sharing with us today. I’ve really enjoyed our time together.
Pamela: Thank you for inviting me. It was my pleasure. Thank you so much.