The Solution

Posted by on Dec 13, 2013 in Diary of a Startup, Featured | 0 comments

The Solution

They say a good idea solves a problem. “Think of a problem and solve it,” they say. I knew the problem well, since I live it, but coming up with a workable solution was something that evolved over time – five years of time, and counting.

At first, I thought I’d just create much better training for the clinic. Then I thought, “I can create good training, and then I can create some really excellent training and I can sell it.” My husband does web development for a living, and I absorbed enough from watching him that I was able to figure out a lot. I bought Adobe Captivate and made some training programs for the clinic. Nothing great, they were just my first attempts at it. They were a lot better than what we had, and they were available to watch on the internet. I created one and used it with an audience, and they liked it. I created one for training intake volunteers and gave a few the link to my private website, and they liked it. Nothing ever came from it after that.

I thought, “Well, I’ll just create a website where I make these and sell these to people. These could be awesome training programs.” Then I thought, “Well, I’ll get some other lawyers to write content for some training, and I’ll turn them into more programs and we can work on getting CLE credit for people who go through them. Lawyers can make money that way.” I still think this is a great idea, and I’d like to do it some day, but for now it is prohibitively expensive.

Finally, after a lot of work, I found a practical way to help the volunteer attorneys (a lot of them are also new attorneys), and a way to help the organizations that help pro bono legal representation. I talked to a lot of people, read a lot of reports, and went to a lot of meetings, and studied a lot of other companies during this stage. The amount of work that this has taken….I cannot even describe, except in painstaking detail, I guess.

That’s when I decided to finally have the site built. However, there are a lot of details in all the steps from the beginning of the idea to the beginning of building the website.

When I was still thinking that I wanted I had my husband start working on fixing up one program that I did on U Visas (one of the immigration-related applications of which I have done many hundreds). I wanted it to be to the level of being pretty good, like the programs that he works on. My husband didn’t do it. I bugged him to work on it. He sort of worked on it. He got bored. It was taking a long time. It kept taking a long time. My husband works hard and he works some long hours, and I was bugging him to do this after work, and he was tired. I also was working full time, and trying to do this after work, and I was pregnant with my third child and often very sick, and I do not have anywhere near the skill level he does with Captivate. Then I had a new baby, and my oldest child hadn’t started kindergarten yet. There was no way to work on complicated programs while also maintaining a full time job and taking care of a family. This was a good idea, but not one that I could make work.

I needed a simpler solution – one where other attorneys with minimal technical skill could also contribute their knowledge. I wasn’t sure yet what to do.

I realized that getting even my simpler solution running while working full time and having small children just wasn’t going to happen. My life was chaotic enough with working full time and having two children. A third baby was on the way, and I wasn’t sure how I would deal with childcare for her.

Childcare has always been difficult. My mom watches my kids while I work because I could never have afforded daycare on a clinic salary. With the arrival of the third baby, it was just going to be too much for her. I cut my hours down to part time, and I used German-style woven wraps to wear my baby to work. She came to work with me until she was 11 months old, and even occasionally after that. A year later, my oldest had barely started first grade when I attended back to school night and realized that something had gone horribly wrong with our schools, and that homeschooling was now the only option for us. I had just, in fact, quit my job two weeks before I found out that homeschooling would be necessary. So, homeschooling needed to happen precisely at the same time when homeschooling was suddenly able to happen for us. I can only say that I believe God provides a way for the things He would like to happen.

I can gloss over all this quickly, but in my life it was a two year process. Without children involved, this would have been much easier. However, having children makes flexible job hours and being able to work from home all that much more important.

Because I was part time, I was able to also work on building up a private law practice, and working on getting LearningLawyer.com built. Eventually, I managed to transition away from clinic employment and in to self-employment. I can work mostly from home and work odd hours, and I’m still able to be “mom.”

It’s a different way of life for me because I was raised by government employees. My parents were both teachers and always told me to get a good job with a pension. I taught elementary school for seven years, but after a few years of that I started going to law school at night. I thought I could get a law degree and then practice education law. It didn’t work out like that. I ended up in humanitarian immigration law instead, which eventually led me to where I am now. At the beginning of it all I don’t think I could have imagined any of this.

I’ve had other moms ask me how they can work at home, too. All I can say is that I do not work entirely at home, I have a LOT of family support, and this whole plan has taken from 2002 until 2013 to even begin to happen. 2002 was when I began to research going to law school, thinking that if we did have children some day, law would still be a good career to have because if I had my own law office I could sometimes work from home. I applied to law school in 2003, began law school in 2004, graduated law school in 2008, and then began working as a lawyer. I worked full time as a teacher during that time (except the last year when I “only” had a baby and attended law school). I was blessed to be hired as a lawyer right out of law school in 2008, by the way, the legal job market has been really bad for a long time.

The Problem
A Mentor

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