Attorney at Law Magazine Los Angeles Publisher Sarah Torres sat down with Elizabeth Yang to discuss her life and career in the latest Young Attorney Spotlight.
AALM: What drew you to your current practice areas?
EY: When I became a lawyer, I focused on intellectual property. My undergrad degrees were in electrical engineering and computer science, so it was a natural progression for me, like other engineers, to specialize in IP law. I went through a joint JD/MBA program at the University of La Verne, so in addition to IP law, I was also all set to practice business law. I started practicing family law about 10 years ago when I went through my own divorce. My marriage lasted a year and a half, but the divorce took four years and I went through five different divorce lawyers. Through this experience, I decided to expand into family law to help others going through the same process. As my family law practice expanded, I discovered many of my divorce clients needed help with their estate planning too. Thus, estate planning is now another area we specialize in.
AALM: How do you juggle multiple offices and a family?
EY: My main office is in Monterey Park, but I go to our other offices to meet with clients as convenient as we serve all of L.A. County. Work-life balance is very important to me. I have two kids, a daughter, 11, and a son, 10. When I was working at the big law firms, I was expected to bill 1,950 hours annually, which equates to working approximately 80 hours a week. My daughter was asleep when I went to work and asleep when I got home, and my nanny was basically raising her for me. I didn’t want this kind of lifestyle, so I started my own practice. Now I set my own schedule and can pick my kids up from school, take them to their extracurricular activities and spend time with them.
AALM: How would you describe the culture in your offices?
EY: Our culture is very collaborative. Everybody helps each other out. At big law, it was competitive, with attorneys fighting over cases. Here, everyone works together to make the client happy. It’s all about customer service. If the client is satisfied, we have done our job. Many on our team have family as well, so we all understand the value of work-life balance. Our motto is, “We handle your case as if it was our own!” We put ourselves in our clients’ shoes and we treat them the way we would want attorneys to treat us..
AALM: How did you make the transition to mediator?
EY: When I finally finished my divorce case, we settled it. I realized we could’ve skipped four years of fighting in court and saved a lot of time and money had we chosen the mediation route. I wanted to offer my clients the option of mediation, so I got my mediation certification. I tell my clients there is never really a winner in a divorce case, especially when there are kids involved.
AALM: Which of your accomplishments make you the proudest?
EY: Starting my own practice in 2011 and writing my books. I co-authored “The Big Secret” in 2017 with Jack Canfield, who wrote the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series. It’s about how challenges in life are blessings in disguise. When I was going through my divorce, it was so stressful, but looking back, it was a blessing in disguise because without it I would not have started my own family law practice and been able to help other people going through their divorces. I published “Stress-Free Divorce” in 2018 to assist couples going through this event. And I co-authored “The Authority: Powerful Wisdom for Leaders in the Field,” about estate planning and how to avoid the probate process alongside Bob Proctor and Brian Tracy.
AALM: What do you see for the future of your firm?
EY: I see my firm continuing to grow each year, hiring and supporting new team members and making sure that as we grow, the level of service does not diminish, so that we continue to take care of clients the best we can.