Lauren A. Cohen is one of those lawyers who we love to watch to see what she’s doing next — because she’s always doing something new. She is the owner of Law Offices of Lauren Cohen, a family law firm based in Chicago, US. We admire how fearless Lauren is in trying new ways to run a more efficient practice and provide effective services to clients.
What is Family Law? Family Law focuses on finding solutions to issues relating to often complex legal relationships. These include marriage and parenthood among others. For this reason, family law practice can involve work with varying groups from children to the elderly and any others in between.
Lauren A. Cohen was kind enough to grant us a brief interview and answer a few questions about her practice.
In your own words, what do you do?
I am a Family Law attorney in Illinois, and I own my practice, Law Offices of Lauren A. Cohen. I handle a wide range of issues such as divorce, child support, allocation of parental responsibilities and decision-making authority (formerly known as custody), parenting time (formerly known as visitation), pre-nuptial agreements, post-nuptial agreements, grandparent visitation, post-secondary educational expenses, enforcement, removal, maintenance (formerly known as alimony), modification, and orders of protection. I do not believe there is any winning or losing in a Family Law matter. These issues are sensitive to all parties involved, and each case must be dealt with on an individual basis. My goal is to help each client reach a level of happiness that he or she was not achieving prior to my representation.
With so many different types of law to practice why is it that you chose family law? Have you ever considered practicing a different type of law?
Toward the end of my first year of law school, my friend asked me if I wanted to try and clerk at the Family Law firm she worked at. I walked over to the office with her to see if her two bosses needed any additional assistance for the summer. Really, I had no idea what Family Law was at the time. Needless to say, I worked there for a while and am still in the Family Law field eight years later. I have never been able to specifically pinpoint why I like Family Law so much. However, it just clicked. Maybe it had something to do with the constant human interaction? Maybe it had to do with the idea that Family Law attorneys are also therapists? Maybe I liked hearing other people’s problems and learning from them? Maybe it was the storytelling? Maybe because it’s so personal, real, and raw? Maybe it’s because of the friendships you make along the way – especially because I’m a people person? I actually have no idea. What I do know is that I love it, as stressful as it can get, I wouldn’t trade in my connections, experiences, friendships, and days in this field for anything else.
When I first opened my practice, I anticipated taking on other types of cases outside of Family Law. I figured I would give it a shot. Maybe a month later, I retracted that idea as nothing else gave me the same type of feeling.
You have accomplished quite a bit in your career. What does the future hold for you as an attorney? Is there anything you want to accomplish that you haven’t?
I never know what the future holds. I am also really superstitious; if I say what I think the future will hold, I will jinx myself. All I hope for is that my business continues to grow and prosper. There were several people who told me I was too young to start my own practice or portrayed a sense of doubt when they found out my next move. However, my business has significantly grown each and every year, and I just hope that it continues to flourish in the future. For accomplishment purposes, I really want to write a book. I think it would be really cool to put
something out there for people to read for comedy, lessons, and guidance. Seeing this possible future book on the New York Times Best Sellers list would be surreal.
What sort of advice would you give to someone following in your footsteps? Are there certain things students should know about being a family law attorney before they start their career?
Be real. Don’t make everything about the money. Be honest. That’s it. If you do those things, you’ll be unlike the others.
What unsolicited advice do you have for other lawyers who operate their own practices? What inspired you to start your own family law firm?
My unsolicited advice to other lawyers who operate their own practice would be to reduce your overhead. I constantly hear owners worrying about the cost associated with running a business. Just keep it minimal. At the end of the day, a fancy office at the top of a skyscraper in the Chicago Loop is nice, but I, personally, do not think that’s what takes it home for a client to sign your Retainer Agreement.
Starting my own practice was due to the sole fact that I could not work for anyone else anymore. It 100% follows that phrase, “When you know, you know.” I knew. I had to go and do what I knew I was capable of doing.
Share with us some tips on how to become a happier and healthier person.
SELF CARE! If you don’t take care of yourself, you will burn out. I spin at a studio almost every day, and I plan my entire day around it. Some people may think that’s unusual, but it gives me a sense of relief and happiness. In the past couple of years, I have become infatuated with understanding the concepts behind healthy/clean eating, exercise, skincare, etc. Learning the ins and outs of all of that has made me concentrate more on myself as a person, and, in turn, makes me feel better. Also, I love to travel. I can’t describe the feeling I get when I am lost in a unique country. There’s something about traveling that’s freeing and calming to me, and I’ll never stop exploring no matter what age. On all of our trips, we do at least one cultural “tour.” We spend the entire day with the indigenous people where we learn their skills, communicate with them in whatever manner we can, listen to their stories and background, and see their homes.
This is the best part and makes me the happiest. Everyone is the same no matter where you are. Whether it’s someone on the subway in London or an indigenous woman living deep in the Amazon in Brazil. Making connections with people I, never in a zillion years would ever think would be anything other than descriptions in a social studies textbook to me, has really been eye-opening and quite an honor. I’ll never forget that when my husband and I were at a cooking class in Chiang Mai, Thailand, the woman teaching us how to cook her meals was also telling me about her child support issue. I was really mind blown that I was in a country 8,500 miles away talking to someone about a child support issue. No matter where someone lives, all people are the same. I could probably go on forever about traveling, but my answer, I’m sure is already too long!
Who have been your own biggest mentors and what is the best advice they ever gave you?
Right after I took the Illinois Bar Exam, I worked for a former Domestic Relations Judge. He opened his practice maybe about a year and a half before I started working for him. He told me to always call people back no matter what. He also told me that the worst attorneys are the ones who don’t ask their questions – so always ask. That’s the best advice and so accurate for any type of profession.
If you could go back and tell yourself one thing before beginning your career, what would it be?
Trust your gut. Your instinct is never wrong.
If you could go back by ten years, what would be some of the top tips you would give our audience?
Be careful on social media. What you put online is there forever. You never know who is watching, and you do not want a silly Instagram story to ruin a potential career. I know now that all potential employers are looking at Instagram or Facebook to get more intel on a candidate. I know I, personally, have done the same during my search for law clerks. Even if something is completely a joke, it can really make an employer think twice about hiring.
Do you believe in destiny or do you think you can control your fate?
I believe everything happens for a reason. Someone really intelligent once told me that if you always try to control everything in your life, then that tells you that you are always worried. If you are always worried, then you are not living in the present. I try to keep this in mind and just know what happens, happens and to take one step at a time. Things will fall into place and will happen because they are, or are not, supposed to.