Charise Naifeh is the Principal of Happy Law Mom, where she helps lawyer moms create the legal practice of their dreams. It seems like motherhood and successful legal careers are incompatible. In fact, the reason women are leaving the law in droves is because of issues happening at home and in the workplace that are very solvable. When these problems are solved, moms no longer to have to leave the law to get enough sleep. It also leads to career success: getting the clients, cases, and promotions that they want.
Charise describes her path to founding her company: “After learning some key skills (that they don’t teach in law school), my life began to get easier and I felt much happier and more empowered both at work and at home. I took control of my career in a new way. I got clear about what I wanted for my future. My home life improved dramatically, as I developed skills that I needed to manage motherhood as a lawyer. I shared what I was learning with others, and they saw dramatic improvements in their lives and careers, too. Happiness was no longer something we were striving for. We were already living it.”
When did you join the WBA?
Why did you join the Women’s Bar Association?
I joined the WBA because I am interested in the work of any committee that is wrestling with the problems of female lawyers who are struggling or leaving the law. These are the problems that I solve in my work.
In what committees/forums have you been involved?
I serve on the Working Parents Committee, helping lawyer moms succeed in law without being crushed by motherhood.
What benefits do you get from being a part of the WBA and why do you think others should join?
We all enjoy the connection and friendships with an amazing group of lawyers, but I’m here to make sure lawyer moms get both career success AND quality of life.
How has being a parent enhanced your career?
The moment I had my first baby, my brain abandoned the practice of law, and I had to learn how to get it back. Now I’m a much more powerful, precise thinker than I was before.
You can have a baby, or two or three, and be an effective lawyer, but you need skills other lawyers often don’t have to make it work.
What words of advice do you have for women new to the profession?
At several points during my career, I got stuck in a rut and turned to others for help. Well-intentioned as they were, they couldn’t see a viable solution to my dilemmas. Their advice was limited to making the best of the status quo.
What I now know is this: if you truly want something, you can have it. Think carefully and critically about any advice stating otherwise.
What is the best advice you have received?
Don’t stay stuck. You don’t have to know the exact path at the outset. If you’re not delighted with your current situation, do something about it. It can and should be fixed.