This New Mom Put Her Lawyer Clothes Back On and Learned A Lot
When Nanda Davis, a criminal defense and family law attorney for her own practice, came back to the courtroom from maternity leave, she didn’t know what to expect. There are plenty of generalizations about female lawyers, especially if you’re a new mom, fresh from maternity leave—pushover, distracted, not committed—but Nanda didn’t care.
After suiting up and finding her place in the courtroom again, she quickly realized that she was exactly the advocate clients needed by their side.
When I heard her story, I knew I had to ask her a few question for the Ms. Career Girl readers. Her takeaways are important for all new moms in the workforce.
Is there one mindset change you’ve noticed the most?
When I returned from work, my priorities were crystal clear. Every moment I worked was a moment away from my baby, and I wanted to make those moments count. If I am spending time on a case and a client, it is because I am doing important work for them and am deeply involved in the case.
Has this affected the kind of cases you’re working on?
In a way, yes. I now have no problem firing a client who is so crazy that there is no pleasing her. I am ok turning away business if I know that the client is not a good fit. And above all, I realized that I am not a charity; I insist that I am paid for my work. Getting rid of the crazies and the people who didn’t value my work, allowed me to spend more time and effort on the clients I had left. It also improved the quality of work I delivered to them.
How did you handle being away from your baby for the first time?
As a new mom, it wasn’t easy leaving my child, but doing so gave me a better understanding of the fierce and crazy love parents can have for their children. Suddenly I understood this in a way I never could before having my child. It made me understand just how much is on the line when my clients go to court, and how scared and angry they felt.
Did that change the way you work with clients?
Oh, absolutely. I often ask myself, what if this were my life, my child? This makes me fight harder for my clients, and sometimes I get angrier about how some of the children in these cases are being treated.
What do you want to say to new moms going back to work?
Moms are strong. Birth is rough. Having a newborn is really hard. You can bring this strength into your work. I have never been more confident in handling cases or more aggressive in my cross-examination. And I don’t hesitate to file a motion or a subpoena that will rile opposing counsel.
I don’t worry about what a judge will think of me if he overrules my motion. And I look forward to the head on confrontations in my cases. I know what is important in my life now, and there is no longer space for worrying about whether opposing counsel likes me or if I’m coming across as “unladylike.” Being an advocate for those who need it the most is very womanly. Moms have always known this because we have to be advocates for our children from day one.
You can learn more about Nanda’s successful small business at DavisLawPractice.com. Before moving to the Roanoke Valley, Nanda Davis was an attorney at the U.S. Department of Labor, in Washington, D.C., where she worked closely with two administrative law judges, writing their decisions and orders regarding a wide variety of employment related statutes.
Nanda Davis graduated magna cum laude from George Mason University school of law in 2012.
Image: Working Mom