Being a parent is one to the toughest roles one can take on. And as many lawyers will tell you, practicing law is pretty tough too. But then we find those who take on both: lawyers and parents. This begs the question: how do they do it?
Stephanie Williams had her first child during her 2L year, and her second child was born the day she was inducted into her first state bar. Today, she is a proud mother of three, a practicing attorney, and author of How to Be a Good Mom (Or at Least Not an Epic Failure).
This is not a self-help book. Rather, Stephanie offers a relatable yet entertaining narrative sharing what she learned over time from her motherhood experiences. And, like many others, she is doing motherhood right (or at least right enough). So, what are her tricks of the trade? Stephanie offers the following “rules” (but don't worry, CWBA members, there are no spoilers here!):
Rule #1: Do not beat yourself up (even when you are certain you deserve it).
Rule #2: Laugh a little (or a lot) (and especially at yourself).
Rule #3: Listen to everything (and hold onto the good stuff).
Rule #4: Love (even when you do not like).
Rule #5: Give it (all) to God.
The 1891: How does being a lawyer affect parenting life?
Stephanie: Lawyers often say that law school teaches you how to, or changes the way you, think – about everything. I think there’s definitely some truth to that. In the journey of training to become and developing a career as a lawyer, we learn to think more critically, to question everything, to see all sides and perspectives, and to look for ways to back up that thinking. As our children grew, developed their own personalities, and became their own selves, my husband and I tried to approach child-rearing as (1) a unified front and (2) considering all perspectives, including those of the children. When the children asked for items or permission to do things, we asked them to explain themselves fully and support their desires. When the children got into trouble, we tried to teach them cause and effect, actions, and consequences. I think this approach was absolutely spurred by my training, tempered with my husband’s more nurturing nature (he’s a nurse by training).
The 1981: What advice would you like to share with CWBA members who are aspiring authors or are interested in the parenting book community?
Stephanie: Just keep writing. Surround yourself with others who are writing and who value words.
The 1981: How do you juggle parenting and legal practice? Are there any tricks of the trade you want to offer members? What about tricks that translate to both clients and your kids?
Stephanie: It really helps that I’m blessed with a wonderful husband who fully supports whatever I want to do (even when I took years off from practicing law and to teach writing as an adjunct making “peanuts” for a salary). I’ve always wanted my kids to know that family is most important but to understand that being ambitious and desiring success isn’t a bad thing either. I think the key to being a good parent and a good lawyer is being honest even in the face of weaknesses or limitations.
The 1981: Forgive me for sounding like a lawyer joke here, but do lawyers make good parents? Why?
Stephanie: Ha! Actually, I think anyone can be a good parent as long as they remember the most important maxim: it’s not about you. When you choose to have children, you take on one of the greatest, if not the greatest, responsibilities of all time. There’s no place in parenthood for selfishness.
The 1981: How did your three children react to the book?
Stephanie: Generally, all three kids thought it was funny to have a book out there about themselves. There were a few times when people at church who’d read the book would make comments to the kids about different stories and the kids said it felt surreal. I think they’re all generally proud of their mom. 😊
Check out Steph’s blog at: https://stephhwilliams.com/blog/
Stephanie H. Williams lived and worked all over the South before she and her family made Colorado their home. She and her husband have been married for more than 20 years and have 3 children.
Attending law school in Alabama, Stephanie served as associate editor of the Cumberland Law Review and Chief Justice of the Henry Upson Sims Moot Court Board. After graduating with her J.D. and M.B.A. in 2002, she became licensed and served a one-year term clerkship for then-Bankruptcy Judge James S. Sledge. After clerking, she practiced for several years in Alabama before her family began a whirlwind of relocations to advance her husband’s healthcare career. As a result, Stephanie ended up becoming licensed to practice and working in Alabama, Tennessee, and then her home state of Arkansas.
For several years, she and her family ran a goat and chicken farm before moving to a more suburban neighborhood. There, Stephanie and her husband trained and served as foster parents, allowing Stephanie the opportunity to care for children in need and to see that legal system from a different perspective.
A writer all her life, Stephanie began teaching academic, professional, and technical writing for local universities and colleges as an adjunct. Over time she began to devote more and more time to teaching and, ultimately, paused her practice for a while. In 2017, she published her first book titled How to Be a Good Mom (Or At Least Not an Epic Failure), a hopefully funny account based on her experiences raising kids.
A lawyer, teacher, writer, wife, mom, former goat farmer and former foster parent, Stephanie describes herself simply as the doer of all the things that need to be done, and sometimes as a nap-taker.
Near the end of 2021, Stephanie and her family settled into a new home and life in Parker, Colorado, and she returned to the practice of law as an associate at Todd Collins & Associates, LLC. She and her husband have enjoyed cheering on the Avalanche and getting involved in a local church and the community.
Excited to put down roots here, Stephanie has volunteered for the Colorado Bar Association’s High School Mock Trial Tournament and has gotten involved with the CBA’s Litigation Section. She’s passionate about helping others get the best possible outcome under the law.