Super Lawyer, Ferrier Stillman shares how she made a name for herself as an expert Family Law Attorney in Baltimore. Ferrier dishes out her best marketing techniques and top career advice for other women.
Ferrier also shares 4 key points that women must consider if contemplating a divorce.
Finally, learn Ferrier’s BIGGEST recommendation for all women.
A move to Baltimore after Law School
I moved to Baltimore right out of law school. Since I didn’t grow up in Baltimore, I was not connected at all. However, I was invited to be an Associate at a large law firm which helped me begin to make connections.
4 ways to make a name for yourself
I did 4 things very early on which served as a platform for my law practice and leadership in the community. These 4 things helped me get my name out there and be seen an expert in the field of family law.
1. Volunteer for political campaigns. Volunteering helped me meet a lot of people and gain skills in fundraising that have helped me to this day.
2. Join a Board. Through a friend in law school I was chosen for the Board of a grass-roots non-profit organization. Although this organization wasn’t directly in my field, I took an immediate opportunity to be on a Board so I could learn non-profit Board governance, more about fundraising and make new contacts.
3. Public Speaking. I took every opportunity that I could find to do public speaking and make presentations. There was nothing that wasn’t a good enough opportunity for me. I spoke in church basements. I spoke to very small groups. It was great practice, and a way to start getting my name out there as a young attorney. The more I spoke, the more I invitations that I received to speak at future events. There is practically no public speaking opportunity that a young professional should turn down. Seek opportunities to speak within your niche. For example, I have spoken and given presentations for accountants, financial planners, psychologists, and therapists. These professionals are great referral sources for me and I work to speak on topics that are relevant and would add value to their practices.
4. Learn your field. I work tirelessly to study and learn as much as possible about the field of Family Law so I can offer valuable services to clients. Read. Attend conferences. You must be able to walk the talk – and not just dance.
Young Professional Groups
Most groups and organizations have a Young Professionals Group. If you are newer to your career this is a great place to start. Reach out to these groups to gain a speaking and presentation opportunities that you may not get with the more established and experienced professionals.
Words of wisdom
Little clients grow into big clients. Little referral sources grow into big referral sources. So, if you are a young attorney or young professional, start with people in your generation – your peers. Your peers will grow to a point where they will eventually be able to refer clients and business to you, even though they can’t when you first meet them.
Best marketing technique
In addition to public speaking, getting involved and volunteering for non-profit and political campaigns (if you are interested in politics)…
Join networking groups that have professionals who are likely to or could refer you business. Also, look for organizations and networking groups where there are very few others in your field.
Biggest career mistake:
Not listening to my instincts – not trusting my instincts. Several times when I have not trusted my instincts, it was a mistake. I should have listened. We as women must be more self-confident.
Career Advice for other women
There will always be others who do what you do
Don’t look at competition as a negative. There will always be other people who do what you do. Remember that different types of clients want different types of attorneys or financial professionals or whatever it is that you do.
Your friendly competitors may end up referring business to you one day. If nothing else, they will likely teach you something. Be open and listen.
Find a mentor as a young professional
Find a mentor when you are a young lawyer or professional. This was an absolute key for me in building my practice. Often finding a mentor happens naturally because you are working for that person or because you have a boss who takes the time, interest, and opportunity to mentor you.
Look for a mentor who has something to teach you…
However, if that isn’t the case, and there isn’t a natural mentor, look for someone who has something to teach you. Find someone in your own field that is really good at something that you want to be good at. Be blunt. Ask that person to teach and mentor you.
When should a successful woman consider a prenuptial agreement?
If a woman has a good amount of assets or children from a prior marriage / relationship to protect, I think it is smart to explore getting a prenuptial agreement. It is worth having a confidential consultation with a Family Law Attorney to determine if a prenup is valuable in your case and worth the awkwardness of discussing it with your fiancé.
4 key points If you are contemplating separation or divorce
1. Meet with an experienced divorce attorney and get legal advice about what steps to take.
2. Make sure you have liquid assets in your name that can support you and your children for at least 6 months. Why 6 months? Because if your spouse is unwilling to help support you and the kids during separation, it will take approximately 6 months to get a court hearing.
3. Make copies of the family’s financial documents. Don’t give your estranged husband the option to keep them from you. This will only make it more expensive for you, as your lawyer will have to obtain them through subpoenas and other legal processes.
4. Have your own individual and separate email address that your spouse does not have access to
Biggest recommendation for all women
Women need to be able to support themselves…
Women need to be able to support themselves. It is generally a mistake (almost always a mistake) to depend on someone else to support you. And it is very important that women have a clear understanding of the family finances: income, expenses, assets, and liabilities. Because if you are going to divorce these are crucial things for women to know and to be able to do for themselves.
Please leave a comment below for Ferrier to see or a question for her to answer.
Ferrier Stillman serves as the Co-Chair of the Family Law Practice at Tydings and represents individuals in her family law practice and health care companies in her senior housing and health care practices. Ferrier has been named to The Daily Record’s Circle of Excellence and has been named a Maryland Super Lawyer again for 2017 and one of Maryland’s Top 50 Women Lawyers. To learn more about Ferrier Stillman and Tydings & Rosenberg visit: http://www.tydingslaw.com/attorneys/ferrier-r-stillman