Odds are that you’re thinking about being a lawyer. You’ve either taken the LSAT or are going to take the LSAT, with the next step obviously is applying for law school.
Before you make the leap, however, it’s important to take a look at where you’ll be landing. Below is an interview we conducted with Goah Abelian, a Los Angeles-based lawyer doing the kind of work many of you ostensibly hope to do. She gives a small peek at the kind of life you’ll be leading when you too are a lawyer.
Gohar Abelian was born and raised in California. Being a Los Angeles native to immigrant parents, she understands the challenges that vulnerable populations face within the legal system. She guides her clients through civil matters pertaining to businesses, contracts, and personal injury. A strong advocate for human rights, she also handles criminal and constitutional matters as well. Growing up as a minority with limited resources and opportunities for growth made her attuned to the plight of others and gave her the resilience to fight for justice. She is eager to fight for those during their time of need.
What do you enjoy most about being a lawyer?
I like that I have the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives. Sometimes my clients will look at me as though I am their last chance of hope. Although it’s a big responsibility, it is immensely satisfying when justice is found.
Did you always want to be a lawyer?
As a little girl, my friend’s always joked about me becoming a lawyer because I would argue passionately when I believed in something. However, I never saw myself as a lawyer, I didn’t think I had the characteristics of a lawyer. I always thought of them as being really talkative and aggressive and somewhat relentless, whereas I tend to be more passive, observant and analytical; however, I do fight for what I believe in, so it seems my friends were right after all and I always empowered the strength within me.
Tell us a bit about the roots of coaching?
I grew up during the times when everyone was listening to Anthony Robbins. I was doing my undergrad at UCLA at the time, studying psychology and I noticed the substantial need for change for women as to confidence and finding their strength to achieve higher goals. My family might remember this, but at that time I had this dream to be a motivational speaker like Anthony Robbins, but my plan was to gear it more towards women.
My life took a different turn, and I married young and had children at a young age, putting my ambitious goals on hold which was extremely hard for me. I always wanted higher education beyond my bachelor’s degree, so I knew I had to figure out a way. But I was also a psychology major and believed so much in nurturing children for positive development. I’m not sure how much of that is true now, so don’t feel bad if you did otherwise as long as your kids are happy.
So after going through all the hardships of raising kids, and eventually going to law school, I felt like I had the proof that it can be done and I want to share that with everyone, so that they know they can do it too, no matter what their goal is. So for me, the motivational quotes and advice come from my own experiences and it’s an affirmation for me too because we always have to remind ourselves.
What inspired you to start working for yourself?
I wanted the capability of choosing the cases I take and the people I represent. I also wanted flexibility so that I can continue to always be a present parent within my kid’s lives. Now, even if I’m working longer hours, they can always be there with me in my office. Lastly, I wanted to build something that I can possibly pass down to my family members.
How did you manage to fit 2 children into your busy world?
My kids were older when I started law school. I waiting until my son was in preschool. I would drop them both off at school and I would go to law school. My family also helps me a lot, so if I needed extra help, they were always there too which was a huge support.
How do you juggle your business and being a mum?
Again, they go to school. I usually do drop off and pick up, and I work in between those hours. It’s nice to have my own firm because it is more flexible, and I can continue to work after hours from my home office if I need to.
How did you find your first clients?
My first clients came from family referrals. Because they trusted me, I had to make sure to keep the clients extra happy, so I overextended myself which was okay because it isn’t easy to have trust in the beginning.
Share us some tips on how to become more a happier and healthier person
I have to work out daily. Before starting my own firm, I did pilates and hiking every day. However, the last year has taken a toll exercising since I ended up with a lot more cases than I imagined. I am now finally getting back into the rhythm of taking care of me and putting in self-care. I do need the extra push now, so I have a coach to make sure I follow through until it becomes a habit again.
Who have been your own biggest mentors and what is the best advice they have ever given you?
When I decided to open my own law firm, I joined a group of entrepreneurial attorneys ( I call them social warriors) who are working towards closing the social justice gap. Within this group, we have many mentors with decades of experience who help guide and mentor us to being a better lawyer. Besides this group, I was lucky to meet many different attorneys within the personal injury realm who have provided invaluable and immense guidance and mentorship. I plan to introduce all of my mentors on my Instagram page soon.
If you could go back and tell yourself one thing before beginning your career what would it be?
I would tell myself to not worry. I’ve always been a worry worm, planning for the future. I ended up dealing with some really unexpected turns and unfortunate situations, and it was fine. We get through it. The greatest strength is really being able to bounce back from those unexpected lows.
What challenges do you face in your work?
The legal field is still dominated by men when it comes to success or being a board member amongst a significant association. I think we need more strong women who are breaking these barriers.
How do you think modern women can be more fulfilled in their lives?
I think every woman should be content with themselves. I don’t think everyone has to achieve higher education, or work out like a bodybuilder or have a ton of friends. I think we should do our best every single day and be content with what we have. Someone might be very successful in one aspect of their life, and lacking in another where someone else is extremely successful. Point is, we shouldn’t compare and we should do the most we can with what we have. Little by little that changes our lives for the better.
What has been your key (or keys) to success?
Getting up and going into work every single day, even if I felt like a case was too much to handle. Little by little, it gets done. So I always push myself daily.
Do you believe in destiny or do you think you can control your fate?
So one of my favorite quotes which I haven’t even posted yet, is: Luck happens when preparation meets opportunity. I think we have to our best to prepare for something we want so that when the opportunity arises, we can grasp it and have the tools necessary to succeed. I never buy lottery tickets, I don’t believe in luck by itself. But I do believe in Karma.