She got her associate degree from Utah State University - Uintah Basin and transferred to Brigham Young University to get he Bachelors in Political Science. Her law degree is from William & Mary Law School. She is a 2015 grad and has worked at The Heritage Law Group since that time. It is a small firm with 5 attorneys.
When asked, “What do you enjoy most about what you do?” She responded, “I get so much satisfaction from my job! I call elder law "nice law" because it is usually non-adversarial. Most days, everyone leaves my office feeling happy. I do not litigate, so there are never any "losers." I feel that I make a positive difference for my clients.” She added, “I also love my firm. It is a small firm that places emphasis on allowing employees to enjoy a good quality of life. Many of the attorneys and staff members are parents of young children, and everyone is extremely accommodating to their family needs. I leave the office at 4:00 most days. I think this is fairly unusual and I feel very lucky to be in such family-centered environment.”
We often like to ask, “Has your path in law differed from your original expectations?” And Jennifer’s response is one so many appreciate. She said, “Yes! I went to BYU expecting that I would meet a husband, finish my Bachelors degree, and then have children and be a stay-at-home mom. After all, this is what all my friends did. However, I did not get married while at BYU. After I finished my degree, I served an LDS mission. When I came back, I moved to Virginia for law school.”
“By that point, I assumed that marriage and family were a long way off for me. Though I wanted to get married, I did not think that it was going happen anytime soon. I figured that if it hadn't happened during my many years in Utah, it wasn't about to happen anywhere else. This reasoning was one of the motivations that pushed me to law school. If I wasn't going to be a wife and mother, I wanted to find something else meaningful to do with my life. So, I put my family plans on the back-burner and began to focus on a law degree. After all, I could only do these things one at a time, right? The last thing I wanted to do was juggle a law career and a family at the same time.”
“But life never goes as planned, does it? I went to church the first Sunday after moving to Virginia and ran straight into my future husband. We got married in the middle of my second year of law school. We had a baby a year after I graduated. My baby is now 7 months old and I still work full-time. This is certainly not how I planned things to happen! No, this is not what I planned -- it is even better! My life is very busy, but I love it and I am amazed at how God gives me the capacity to handle it all. I wouldn't change it for anything.”
Which obviously leads to the question, “How do you juggle your personal and professional life?” Jennifer has found her way to juggle things “with a great babysitter and a very understanding boss! I couldn't do it without them! When I was looking for a job during my last year of law school, I knew that my husband and I were planning to have children soon. Because of this, I specifically sought out firms that I suspected would be family-friendly. I sacrificed a higher salary to go to a small firm that would support my family goals. I don't regret that decision for a minute!”
Jennifer’s advice to other women either interested or already working in the law is this:
1. Take out as little student debt as possible. Nothing will limit your options like having a big monthly payment hanging over your head. If you want to keep the option of staying home with your kids, you need to minimize your debt.
2. Be willing to sacrifice a fatter paycheck for a family-friendly workplace. There are family-friendly options out there, but you really have to hunt them out. Don't be discouraged if the pay is less than what your classmates are getting. If you want to have a family, it is worth it.
3. Don't get down on yourself if you are the only mom in the ward not attending the group play dates. You are on a different path than they are, and that is okay. You don't need to feel guilty about it (or look down on others for it).
Thank you Jennifer for letting us spotlight you and we look forward to networking with you in the future on-line and in person. We wish you the best on your dreams of enlarging your family, cutting back to part-time and then increasing work load as best suited for your family. Congrats on finding both the place and area of law best suited to you and sharing these options with others that may have similar questions.