Challenge of running your own firm worth the reward: Gosai
By Tony Poland, AdvocateDaily.com Associate Editor
Women “shouldn’t be afraid to play by their own rules” when it comes to opening their own law firm, says Brampton personal injury lawyer Nital Gosai.
Gosai, founder of Gosai Law, says hanging out your shingle is hard work that’s worth the reward.
“It certainly has its challenges,” she tells AdvocateDaily.com. “My message to a woman who is practising law and aspires to open a firm is, don’t be afraid to invent your way of practising law. Find your own place. You shouldn’t feel confined by someone else’s rules. You decide what works for you and your law practice.
“If you feel restricted by your firm’s policies and ideals, then break free. There’s plenty of space for all of us, so go and invent the ideal that works for you so that you can feel satisfied and fulfilled in your career.”
Gosai decided to strike out on her own in 2011 after working for a large law firm.
“What I was facing there was a very narrow approach to the practice of law. I felt confined by numbers and dollars and the need to bill a certain amount,” she says. “Not overtly but indirectly, I felt pressured to meet my quota and often it was at the cost of effective litigation.
“It was sometimes at the expense of a well-deserved fight in law and clients not realizing their case’s true potential because there was this business to maintain.”
Gosai says she realized she would face challenges as a woman opening a business, especially proving herself.
She says some clients are hesitant to retain a woman to represent them, depending on their age or how they were raised culturally, as well as what they perceive to be the norm.
There is also the problem of sexism, Gosai says.
“One of my biggest hurdles was finding men wanting to work with me who had been in the industry for many years,” Gosai says. “From basic obstacles like that, it’s certainly been a challenging journey.
“Everything’s harder in the beginning. For example, having a meeting over dinner, which can, unfortunately, be construed as something other than just business because I’m a female.”
She encountered the additional challenge of balancing her life as a parent and business owner.
“I have two children, so the past eight years have been very busy on the personal side of things as well as the professional,” Gosai says, adding she faced times of “incredible guilt.”
“At first, there was deep-rooted guilt of not having enough time with my children and not being as present in my career and my business. I found myself constantly battling the feeling that I was not doing well on either of those fronts,” she says.
Gosai says she soon realized that she would have to make better use of her time to balance family and business.
“I found that by manipulating my schedule a little and allowing myself some very particular downtime, I really am able to do it all and do it well,” she says. “I’m satisfied with what I’m giving my children and to the business and the individual practice of law.”
The change didn’t happen overnight, Gosai admits.
“It took me years to really get there because it wasn’t just a decision that I was making for myself. My entire team at the office had to be on board,” she says. “I made this decision to unplug for a couple of hours a day. At the same time, my personal life during those hours is so demanding that it becomes very difficult to do anything other than focus on that, making it easier to remain unplugged.
“Now, instead of feeling this guilt, I’ve allowed myself that time to put my phone away so that I’m fully engaged with my children, and when they are in bed, I am back up and running.”
Gosai says the key to being successful is being surrounded by “a fantastic group of people.”
“Whether it’s family, friends or colleagues, I find that has always helped me recover from any of the pitfalls I’ve experienced,” she says.
“I’ve always had an incredible support system. We rally and find solutions together.”
Gosai says while it is vital to keep an eye on the bottom line, “so that we can keep the lights on,” she finds money is not the greatest motivation to running her own firm.
“We have an opportunity to decide when we will fight the good fight at the expense of money so that we can make a significant change either to the law or to our client’s lives,” she says. “At the end of the day, we’re guided by our passion for the law and not only by the money the firm will make.
“Being able to explore new avenues in the law is gratifying. Just that freedom to run these files as I see fit is something that I could never put a price tag on.”