Partnering Up For Perspective: An Interview with Ingrid M. Evans, Founder of The Evans Law Firm (www.evanslaw.com).
By Tanya Falleiro Neha Sareen • July 15, 2011•Balancing Private and Professional Life
A Little More about Ms. Ingrid M. Evans . . .
Prior to founding The Evans Law Firm, Ms. Evans opened the San Francisco office of a national law firm and worked in private practice with former San Francisco City Attorney, Louise Renne, after she served as a veteran Deputy City Attorney for the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office.
Ms. Evans is a Board Certified Civil Trial Advocate and was previously undefeated as a former Deputy City Attorney. She has been named as a 2010 Northern California Super Lawyers and a 2009 Northern California Rising Star’s Super Lawyers.
Ms. Evans is very active in the community. She was the first Co-Chair of American Association for Justice’s (AAJ) Class Action Litigation Group. She is also the Past Chair of Consumer Attorneys of California’s Women’s Caucus. Currently, she is on the Executive Committee for Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC), the Board of Governors for AAJ, and Board of Directors for Public Justice.
There is much more to read about Ms. Evans and her accomplishments! For more on Ms. Evans, please check out her website.
What are your hobbies/activities that you enjoy doing out of the office?
I really enjoy being outdoors, running and traveling. I run at least four times a week and try to do trail running in Marin County one day in the morning. Hiking is also an activity I really enjoy. Several years ago, I hiked to Base Camp at Mt. Everest at over 18,000 feet.
Besides running and hiking, I love to travel—especially to destinations outside the United States!
What do you consider is the key to creating a balance between one’s life in and out of the office?
I believe the main thing is to not take the law and litigation personally. You will have intense experiences both in and outside of the courtroom, and you will always want to represent your client to the fullest. However, you cannot let a bad day or rude comments by opposing counsel consume you; nor can you carry it with you for days on end.
Have you ever had to turn down any special projects or additional work in order to maintain a solid work/life balance?
When I worked in the large firm environment, there were times that I wanted to focus my work on certain existing cases and turn down taking on new cases but that decision was really outside my control. Now that I have opened my own firm, I have more control, which allows me to focus on the cases at hand and not to become pulled in too many directions. Having my own firm, I can personally decide on how much time to allot to each case, and which ones to take on.
Currently, I have had to turn down many sympathetic elder abuse cases. Rather than taking on more cases than I have time for, I believe it is important to take on the right number of cases, so that I can zealously represent my clients.
What made you want to start your own firm? What were the challenges and/or rewards?
I had always wanted to start my own firm, but was nervous about the hurdles that I would face. I bought the Evans Law domain name about ten years ago. About six months ago I was at a point in my career where I had worked at several firms, and was ready to start my new venture.
There definitely are challenges to starting your own firm, particularly the administrative and business issues that arise. When you work at a firm as a lawyer, you do not confront the administrative and business issues. For example, unless an attorney is designated as the managing partner, most attorneys at firms do not involve themselves with the IOLTA Trust Accounts for clients. On the upside, my husband was a CIO for a company and very experienced in IT issues. He has helped me create a firm that is cutting edge in terms of being a relatively paperless office with very detailed emergency protocols and backed up documentary files.
Alongside the challenges are the rewards! It definitely is nice not having to run up the chain of command, not having to confront partner disagreements, and having the flexibility to do what you want. For instance, there is a case that I was asked to try in August 2011. It is an elder financial abuse case against a reverse mortgage company that took advantage of an elderly couple with Alzheimer’s. I am going to take off two weeks to go down to Southern California to try the case. If I was working at another firm, I could not take off this time because of other matters. Since I run my own firm, I have this flexibility. I am really excited for this opportunity because I get to be a trial lawyer again, which is the reason why I went to law school!
As founder of your own firm, do you feel that it is difficult to make time to network, become involved with bar associations, etc.?
It is actually easier for me to spend time networking because I believe that getting involved in the community is important and I truly enjoy it. My area of practice is more of a smaller niche, so a lot of my cases come from referrals. Getting out and becoming involved in the community allows me to enjoy getting to know other people, as well as spreading the word about my areas of practice.
What do you feel are some of the challenges females in the legal field have faced, and are still facing today?
Unfortunately, there are still not enough female lawyers trying cases. Often in the past 15 years I have been at trial call, and very often I am the only woman there. Stereotypes still exist but having more women trying cases and being successful will help to show that women can be extremely effective trial lawyers. Either way, stereotypes are still prevalent in the legal field and are one of the toughest challenges that women face.
Is there any advice that you have out there for female attorneys?
I really would like to encourage female attorneys to become involved in leadership positions within legal organizations! They should get out there and become members of organizations and groups and determine which ones they feel are a good fit for them. When I first did this, there were some organizations and groups that I did not enjoy or feel very comfortable with. However, in time and experience, I found the groups and organizations that I wanted to become involved in. I realized that for me as a trial lawyer, organizations such as the American Association for Justice (AAJ), Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC), and Public Justice, were the organizations where I belonged and that are helping consumers and ensuring justice for them.
Not only does involvement with groups and organizations help one do good deeds and get to know other members of the community, but it is a great way to build one’s own network! Many organizations have their own listservs, which are a great tool to use. So to all the female attorneys out there, get out there and become involved - try different groups and find the ones that are right for you!
Interview conducted by Neha Sareen and Tanya Falleiro.