Really try to make it work
Back when I was in high school and deciding what I wanted to do, I thought about law because it interested me. At the time, only four percent of attorneys were women.
I went into another helping profession – psychology – but didn’t like it and it didn’t feel like what I wanted to do. I owned a business for a while, organizing national beauty competitions for women under 5’4″ (I’m 5’2″). The president of Petite Sophisticates sponsored them. There were about 400 stores in the late ’80s. It was a lot of fun and I enjoyed doing it. But toward the end, I knew I didn’t want to do it forever.
What made you decide to finally realize your lifelong dream?
We had a problem with another pageant and they wanted to sue our company. It was then that I thought, ‘I wish I was a lawyer and I could do something about it…Oh yeah! law school!’
In 1994, I went to law school full time for three years while still running the beauty pageant business. In my last year of law school while studying for the bar, I phased out the beauty competitions. I passed the bar (the first time) and began working on Wall Street with Milbank, Tweed, Hadley and McCloy.
I became a lawyer at the age of 41. I worked for several large firms throughout New York and New Jersey for ten years before I started my company, The Salvo Law Firm.
Did you face any obstacles?
I was older than most women when I married. I was concerned about having a baby. My baby came after working for a year and I had to take time off. It was tough. I was into my career but was also into my baby. I wanted to be with the baby.
My age was also an obstacle. When you start out, you are a summer associate in your second year of law school. I was with young kids. The firm would take us out and wine and dine us. The kids wanted to go out afterwards, I just wanted to go home because I was tired.
Were there people that tried to discourage you?
My mother didn’t really discourage me, but she did ask, ‘Do you really want to do that?’ Everybody else was encouraging. My husband was very, very supportive. Law school is a lot of work. You have to read 100 pages a day. The professor would call on you and bombard you with questions. You have to know what you read. Legal writing was different.
How did you feel when you finally accomplished your lifelong dream?
It was great. It was a great accomplishing something I really wanted to do. I is a good career for me. I do litigation and it challenging. It’s always a contest. They are trying to win and you are trying to win. It felt good to accomplish something.
When it happens to you later in life, maybe you appreciate it more.
What advice would you give to others that are contemplating finally living their dream?
I would advise them, if it’s really important and it keeps bothering you, really try to make it work. For the most part, you can try to live your dreams, but if you don’t, you may have a little bit of a regret. If I hadn’t done it, I wouldn’t have known how much I missed out. I would have missed out on something really special.
Sometimes it may be too late, you may be too old for some things, but for the most part, you should try to make it work.
To learn more about The Salvo Law Firm, click here.