Maya K. Grey - Podcast Show Notes

Emily Flanagan


Feb 02, 22

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Guest Highlight

Maya is a fierce woman, lawyer, teacher, mom, wife, and entrepreneur. Originally from the Bay Area in California, she began her career as a teacher. After some time, she decided that she was ready to completely change her path and go back to school to become a lawyer. Taking her knowledge from her background as an educator, she ultimately chose family law. She worked for over seven years in a reputable and established law firm before her priorities began to shift.

Maya K Grey

In 2020, before the outbreak of COVID-19, Maya made another courageous decision to start her law firm. Needing more flexibility and work-life balance, Maya weighed her options and knew that starting independently was the right decision for her and her growing family. She needed change and wanted the ability to spend time with family, have time to go to the grocery store, or just run things the way she'd like in her own business and experience creating her parameters.

Maya is a passionate family law attorney who specializes in helping individuals navigate some of the most difficult and painful experiences of their lives. She handles all issues related to divorce, legal separation, and parentage actions, including matters related to child custody, child support, spousal support, and complex property division. She also helps clients wanting assistance with pre-marital and post-marital agreements. Additionally, Maya serves as a consulting attorney for clients in mediation and those seeking a second opinion.

Maya is a fierce advocate for her clients, and will stand up for their best interests in court and in negotiations with the other side. However, she believes that the best and most cost-efficient outcome is when a negotiated settlement can be reached outside of court. Therefore, she works hard to avoid litigation unless it is necessary. Maya tells her clients what they need to hear, and not necessarily what they want to hear, in order to help them achieve the best results for their case.

Show Notes

Would you leave a stable job that was great on paper but left you feeling unfulfilled? A little over a decade ago, this exactly is what this next episode’s guest did. She took a leap of faith, and it paid off in spades. 

Meet Maya Kevin Grey. Maya is a mother of two, a wife, a go-getter, fearless leader, a former teacher, and now, a family lawyer. Michelle and Maya dive deep into finding your courage when leaping into a significant life change. The throughline here is to follow your gut when you know something isn't exactly right. Maybe the puzzle pieces once fit, but it isn’t perfect anymore. Maya pushes us to follow that calling to make a change. She is the shining example that determination will be rewarded through any challenging transition period. 

Michelle and Maya dig into why we’re so pushed to stick with our guns once we’ve made a decision. But, in reality, we know deep down that the rule serves no one. If you know you are ready for bigger and better (or just different) things, it’s ok to change course! Nothing about a change negates the validity of a decision you made previously. We evolve, and so do our choices.  

Join us this week on From The Basement Up as we talk about having the confidence to tread a new path to get ahead, even if it means temporarily putting yourself in a worse position than you were before. Maya Grey is the definition of one step back, two steps forward, and she encourages us listeners to have the bravery to do the same. 

I believe the most important points or traits that Maya displays in spades are a combination of being fearless and flexible:

  • It ties into being able to change your career path after establishing yourself and going back for an advanced degree in an entirely different discipline.
  • Leave a good job after 7-years to improve your work-life balance and start on your own practice.
  • Weigh your options, resources, and goals when making these decisions, what works for someone else might not be your best option
  • Bring in what you’ve learned from other chapters of your life to the chapters ahead
  • Finding or creating a career support group

Thank you for tuning in and sticking around! We look forward to sharing more insight and fantastic guests with you every week. For more information on Maya Grey, please follow the links below.

Helpful Links:
Episode 2: Maya K. Grey Transcript

Michelle: Maya's a wonderful, fabulous, smart woman, but incredibly fearless. And I'm so excited for you to listen to her journey. Maya started off as a teacher, and now she's a lawyer for family law, and it's quite incredible what she's done. And I'm really excited for you to listen to her journey.

Michelle: Hi everyone. Thanks for joining us on from the Basement Up and today we have a very special guest. Her name is Maya Grey, and Maya is a lawyer. And the reason why I really wanted to get Maya on the podcast, she's had a very interesting career and she's changed course a couple times. So just because everything's so fluid nowadays and people change, they may not always stay in the same business forever, I thought that this was so important to share with everyone. So hello, Maya.

Maya Grey: Hi. Thanks for having me on.

Speaker 2: Yes, and actually I have Emily here, too. 

Emily: Hi.

Speaker 2: And another reason why we have Maya here is because she's actually part of the family. So this is a special interview and I just am such an admirer of Maya and I just know that she has an amazing story to share with everyone. So thank you for taking time out of your day Maya. 

Maya Grey: Well, thank you for having me on. 

Speaker 2: So I just always think it's so fascinating that you were a teacher, you started off your career as a teacher. And I wanted to hear the background of that. What made you go into teaching and then also what made you exit teaching?

Maya Grey: So I always knew I was going to be a teacher ever since I was a little girl. I would put my levies up and pretend to teach to them. And I just knew that was my path. So after I went to college, actually took a year off, was no parent funds then I went to graduate school, got my teaching credential. And I was in Watts, which is in LA for two years. And I really loved it. I mean, I actually really enjoyed the community. The school was hard. There wasn't a lot of support from the administration, but I loved my kids. And then I wanted to move back to the Bay Area where my family is. So I came back up here. I taught in Excelsior at San Francisco for four years and I had a lot of passion for what I was doing. The kids were really incredible. And I worked at a teacher run school where that was project based. So we didn't have a principal and all the teachers had a say in how we wanted to run our classrooms. So I really found a lot of joy in that, but after time went on, it was really hard to be a teacher in the Bay Area. I mean, the salary's there. It's difficult to support yourself. And I started thinking I was never going to be able to have a family. And also there was something that I thought that was missing, whether it was intellectual stimulation or something, I just felt a small hole. And so both my parents are lawyers and I'd always been interested in what I might be like to be a lawyer. I told myself I'm going to take the LSAT. And if I do well, I'm just going to see what happens in law school. So I took the LSAT and I applied to several schools and I got in and that just made the jump. And it was really heartbreaking at first because I really, really missed the kids and I missed just feeling needed, but law school definitely filled a hole that I was missing. 

Speaker 2: I mean, I think that's great. How many years were you a teacher before you decided to go back to law school?

Maya Grey: I taught for five years. And I think that one of the most rewarding parts of being a teacher is you may not see the direct impact every day, so you don't know you're making a difference, but you can see that you're making your kids really happy and they make you really happy. So there's just a lot of joy every day. I felt like that I was needed. And I don't think I realized how much or how important that was to me until I left. And I went to law school and no one needed me at all. And there was no one asking me for help. So that part definitely was a big change that took a while to transition to. And for a while I would go back to my old school and I'd see the kids and just monitor how they were doing. But now it's been so much time that I haven't done that in a long time. 

Speaker 2: So as far as like a catalyst, did you think that there was a big catalyst that made you just go, okay, I'm making that switch, I'm going to make the change? 

Maya Grey: No, not really. There wasn't any one thing that happened. I think I just I've always been that person that's like, if I want to do something, I'm just going to do it. And I think I had really great role models in my life. Both my parents went to law school later in life. So my mom went, I think when I was like seven and my dad went when I was in middle school even. I had this model of like, nothing is fixed. You don't have to stay in one career forever. And if you aren't happier, you want to change it, do it. So I think for me, just teaching, I loved it, but because it felt like something was missing, I just wanted to see what else was out there.

Emily: Sounds like growing pains.

Maya Grey: Yeah. I mean, I think some people are happy to be in one job or forever. And that's great because I think we all have different paths. But other people, if you feel like there could be something else, then I think why not explore it and see if you find something you like even better.

Speaker 2: I agree with that. And Emily's going through something right now, you're getting your masters. And it's interesting because like in your'20s, you're evolving and you're changing and you're really just getting to know yourself. So I love that you made that switch. 

Emily: Well, and on that note too, my peers are your guys age. My peers are people that have full- time careers, have been in their careers for 10, 15 years, have kids. And they're like, oh my gosh, my kid's at the door, I need to lock it, hold on. Or something like that. And so, I mean, it's really never too late and all of these people have been in their fields and now they're taking... And it's actually funnily enough master of legal studies. So I won't be a lawyer, but I'll be the lawyer's assistant or working in compliance is probably where I'll go. But that's where everyone is just hinging on that point of, okay, I've been in my field for too long. Let me learn something new, something that I feel like I can resonate with and pick up and see where it takes me.

Speaker 2: Definitely.

Maya Grey: Exactly. 

Speaker 2: So I have a question as far as like sacrifices to go back to law school because law school's expensive, definitely. So what were those sacrifices you made to make that happen?

Maya Grey: It's one of those things, it's hard to say if it was the right decision or the wrong one, but I just was like, well, I can take out student loans and I'm going to do that. And so I took out the absolute maximum. Maybe it wasn't the maximum, I took out a lot of money and I graduated with... I want to say it was like$ 180,000 in debt. And at the time, I thought, well it's worth it because this is how I'm able to survive. I didn't want to have another job while going to law school. And I didn't really understand the impact that student loans could have on my life. And the fact that it's... I mean, what I wanted to do is I didn't want to go into a big firm. So, for most people it's pretty impossible to pay off the full monthly balance. And so what happens is you end up only paying the interest and you never even touch the principal. And so it just keeps going up and up and up. And so when I think about the sacrifice, I don't think at that time, I thought that it was a huge sacrifice because I was living on loans. It was only later that I realized, wow, that's a big thing I wish I had understood better when I had applied for the loans and maybe figured out some alternatives. And then also just, I treated school like it was a job. So I just made sure that I was doing all the work that I could do. I mean, Emily said that a lot of her peers are our age because when I was in law school, everyone was her age. So everyone was 22, 23 and I was 29 when I started. So I felt really old and they were all going out to the bars and having fun and partying. And I was just more like, oh, well, here I am with my husband and I already have my friends. And so, I didn't maybe do as many fun things as my peers were doing. 

Speaker 2: That's okay because you took school... It was your job and you were making a huge change. So as far as like tips for the listeners? 

Emily: Can I say something on that? 

Speaker 2: Of course. 

Emily: Just make it fun. Probably too, they're wishing that they were doing what you did because they're like waking up with hangovers for that big TOTS exam or something. And they're like, oh gosh, I wish I didn't go out and waste all my money that I don't even have at the bar.

Maya Grey: What's funny also about the money part, because I think I've always been fairly frugal because I was a teacher before I was so used to just not spending any money. So I really, really was careful, even though I was living on loans, I was really careful with the money that I did have because I knew I wasn't bringing in an income that could subsidize it. So that's definitely something that if you are thinking of going back to school, when you take out loans, just plan ahead about what that means for your budget and your finances and make sure that you're ready for that. 

Speaker 2: I think that's great. Were there any resources or anything like financial resources that you could recommend to people who are going back to get their masters or going back to law school? 

Maya Grey: I mean, I think every school has a financial aid office and you can go and talk to them. And I also tried to apply for as many scholarships as I could and I got a couple. And every dollar helps. So I would say definitely talk to your financial aid office to see what's out there. Another thing I just thought about that I had told myself is even though I had a very large amount of student loans, the amount that I make now far surpasses anything I could have ever made as a teacher. And so I'm so grateful, even though I hate having that debt and I would like to pay it off. I also have the ability to live a much richer life in terms of finances because the job I have now allows me to do that. 

Speaker 2: Nice. Nice. And thank you for sharing that. And I'm just curious now, so you go through law school, you make this massive change and then what was it like getting a job after law school?

Maya Grey: It was brutal. So I remember graduating and I just thought I'm going to apply for anything and everything just till I got my bar results back and I applied to over 100 jobs and I remember I heard back from one person and they said, you should rethink how you sent out your emails because apparently I had put something like, hey there instead of dear sir or madam or hello, or even anything formal. So that was one good lesson, but it was also heartbreaking to just either... I didn't hear back from anybody and I started to get really desperate for money because I was slowly using up all of the loans I had taken out. And so then I just started networking and really at that point I knew I wanted to go into family law. And so I was sending out emails to people in the field just asking if I could meet with them. And after every informational interview I would always ask, is there someone else you think I should talk to? Or is there someone else that you know that would be willing to talk to me so that the change just kept going. And through those interviews, I actually met someone who he said, hey, my friend is hiring. He's looking for an associate, he's doing personal injury law. And at the time my perception of lawyers in that field were that they were ambulance chasers and all they cared about was money. And so I really didn't want to do it, but I forced myself to just show up for the interview and it was great. And I loved my boss. He was such a caring man. And I realized that there are a lot of people that just need help because they are legitimately injured. So I took the job and I ended up being there for five months and it was a really great experience. So that's definitely one tip I would give to people that are listening is just be open because you'll never know where your next step is going to lead to.

Speaker 2: Oh, I love that. And that's absolutely a crucial thing being flexible because a lot of times you have your mindset on something and then the world, you just end up going right path. That was not what you expected and then wonderful things happen. Absolutely. One question I did have, because I know that you did work for a law firm for seven years after that, it was more family law where you were focused on and what was your job like at that point? 

Maya Grey: In what respect?

Speaker 2: I guess we can't get into details but more I guess the work life balance and you worked there for seven years, so you definitely knew that you liked that type of law, but then I'm just curious, what was it about that position that made you then take the next step in your career? 

Maya Grey: Got it. So I felt like I hit the jackpot when I first got that job because unfortunately for a lot of lawyers, they live by billable hours and they have bosses that say, you have to have an insane amount of hours in order to work here. And they really don't have a work life balance. And I found a firm where for a long time they really did stress work life balance. And I never had to work on the weekends. I rarely ever had to work at night and they really cared about me and I really loved the work that I was doing because every day I was helping people with the really, how do I say it? When you go through a divorce, it's the death of a marriage. And so a lot of people are grieving and I was able to help them transition from being in a really hard spot to a really good spot. So being in a firm that nurtured me to like really care for my clients was a good thing. And it was really only over time as I had kids and I wanted to have more flexibility that being in a firm became much more difficult and I wanted more flexibility and they wanted me stay exactly where I was. I don't know if I answered your question, but- 

Speaker 2: No, definitely. 

Emily: I think it's the same as what we were talking about earlier. And I termed it, and you can correct me or fix it, but it's growing pains maybe again, you just wanted something different that fit your needs at that point that was different than your starting point.

Speaker 2: Yep. You were in transition in your life having a family. And so that next step you were just considering it. Okay. I'm going to be moving on into... Now, this is really from the Basement Up, how we got started people starting out on their own. So you're a woman starting your career in a new area. You have student loans, you have young children and now you're taking the step to be really an entrepreneur starting out on your own with your own firm. So that's really the meat of it where I want to know okay, so now what got you to make that step? And it's really a tremendous risk, but it's also rewarding. So those are the things we were wanting to get to the listeners. 

Maya Grey: So I was never a person that wanted to be on my own. I really am a pretty... So I'm type A person, I just like things to be predictable. I want to know where my next paycheck was coming from. I want to have a retirement plan. And so I really thought I was going to retire at this firm. And it was only as things were becoming a little bit more tense between me and in the firm that I started thinking about what other options there could be. And so my husband was like, you can go on your own. I believe in you, you can do it. And I was like, no, I can't. I can't. And he just said, why don't you think about it? And so I had a really good friend who she went out on her own in family law and I called her one weekend and just said, walk me through what it's like to have your own practice. And what was so amazing is it didn't seem that hard. I had been so scared about the logistics of, what computer programs did I have to buy and what electronics did I have to get and how would I market myself to get clients? But the way she broke it down was just really simple. And that I didn't have to have everything on day one. I could also do things slowly over time. And then I also, at the same time started looking for other jobs online and I saw that there were things out there and they weren't paying any more than what I was making at the firm. So those two things together made me think, why not just try it on my own and just see what happens. And this was three weeks before the pandemic happened. I basically gave my notice and I was so excited. I was going to open up my own office and it was scary but exciting. And then the pandemic happened and everything shut down. And I was like, oh my God, what am I going to do? And I just had that attitude of like, this is going to work. I'm going to make it work no matter what, I don't have any other choice. And so I took the leap.

Speaker 2: I love it. I love that grit that comes through. So you just hop into survival mode and you are such a planner. So I remember when the pandemic hit and I'll be honest. I remember being a little worried, just going, she just left her practice and just being worried. And I didn't want to say anything because obviously I had done something very similar, but I just wanted to just hear, what were you processing? What were your steps of getting through those early days?

Maya Grey: I was really scared because, I mean, just like the rest of the world, I didn't know where this was all going and it seemed like it was going to be so temporary. So I was still looking at office spaces and once it became clear that this was going to be a more permanent being, I just said, okay, I'm going to transition to fully being online. And what was amazing, big difference between my old firm and what I'm doing now is my friend who went out on her own. She said, I don't use any paper. I'm a completely paperless office and everything I do was online. And so that was awesome for me to hear because the firm was almost 100% paper. So knowing that I already had a computer, which was the main basis of my practice, I knew that I had most of the accessories I needed. Another thing that I should mention is, one reason why I also felt more comfortable taking this big leap is because I had saved for a long time to have an emergency fund. And so I told myself, okay, this can carry me for a few months. If I don't get any clients whatsoever, if I don't make a single dollar, at least I have a few months. And if at the end of the few months, I need to, I can apply for a job. So I think having that safety net was really huge for me and gave me a sense of confidence that I might not have had otherwise.

Speaker 2: Well, I agree. I mean, that's huge. Just being able to... You have that security blanket, so you were ready to go. And then also you had all those years of experience, so you knew what to do, and you knew that you could go back and work for someone if you needed to. So those are great things to definitely have. Do you think that... And I've wondered this a lot of times too, because you're such a kind person and I mean, you're so smart and I mean, we all love Maya. We're like, we're so lucky Maya is in our family. We say that all the time.

Maya Grey: Thank you. 

Speaker 2: But having clients approach you, just having that background as an educator and being in family law because you take such a compassionate approach to everything. I mean, that must give you like a unique way of looking at situations. And I'm just curious if your clients see that, or if you find people selecting you as their lawyer because of the background.

Maya Grey: That is a good question. I don't know the answer to the latter. I mean, I think that could definitely be a possibility. I don't know if I've ever asked anybody, but for me, I always try to keep the children at the center of what's happening because I think it's really easy for adults to get lost in he said, she said, and I'm so mad at that person doing the divorce process. And I always try to bring it back to but is this good for your child? And I always try to say when I was a teacher, I saw a lot of the harmful effects that a divorce could have on a kid. So I try to bring in as much of my educational background as possible. I also, being a teacher learned about the different ages of development. And so I try to... People are going through a divorce and they have kids, a lot of time they have to think about what kind of schedule they're going to have if they're not living in the same household. And so I try to bring in some of that background of, well, here's what's developmentally appropriate for this age. And also just as a teacher, you learn that kids are so resilient and I remember one of the thing that struck me most was I'd have kids that were in pretty awful abusive situations and they still wanted to be with their parents no matter what. And even when there was a lot of trauma happening, they were just able to bounce back. So I also tell my clients, even though this is such a hard situation and I'm sure your kids are in pain, they're going to be okay. So I think I'm able to draw from my teaching background when I think about those issues.

Emily: That's so cool. Hearing that, and I hope that for our listeners, it feels the same way. You could do anything and you could go and be a lawyer, but you could go and do anything else. And all that you've learned throughout your life will play a role. It is important what you've taken from your other chapters in your life. 

Speaker 2: Absolutely. It's a journey. And I just love your compassionate approach and that you're able just to take in all this knowledge that you've lived this previous life and then bring it all to the table for people. So I think that's wonderful.

Emily: Just going back to the money factor of starting a new chapter of your life. I can't give it's advice, it's not applicable to every situation, but when I just went back to school after graduating, money was free. They'd lowered the tuition, they gave you a grant just for being accepted. So I guess, how do you find the good opportunities and how do you know when it's the right time to do that if you feel like you don't have the resources to do it?

Maya Grey: You mean in terms like going back to school or assuming that-

Emily: Yeah, just in terms of going... Because for me, I was just luck with the pandemic. I think that my generation is a little bit double- edged sword disadvantaged advantage because we get a lot of slack with the COVID outbreak and a lot of help from the government and from school and stuff. So just because I don't know if I would be able to go back to school, if the school wasn't lowering their tuition and giving money just for being accepted. And you kind of answered it, but just the resources of where you could go to apply for those scholarships or touch upon that.

Maya Grey: So I remember, I mean, I had applied to one school that was lower ranked and they offered me a full ride. And then I applied to another school that was much higher ranked, but they didn't give me anything. And I was so torn about what to do because on the one hand, the thought of taking out hundreds of thousands of dollars of loans is very scary. But then in my mind, I thought that maybe by going to this school that's higher ranked, it would give me more connections later on. So I think everybody's different. You have to decide what's most important to you. I don't honestly know now what was the right choice. I just have to draw off my own experience, which truthfully in the end, going to the school I went to ended up connecting me to all of these people that landed me my first job and that networking was so important. But I can't say that if I went to the other school that wouldn't have happened either. So I think each person first figured out what most important to you, are you comfortable with graduating with some kind of debt? And if so, how much? And if you're not, then look for schools that are willing to offer you a free ride even if they may not be as highly ranked, you can also talk the financial aid offices to see what kind of scholarships are available. Some of them will tell you, oh we have this. For example, I applied to the transitional women's committee and they offer scholarships for women who are transitioning from one career to another one. And I ended up winning it. And I was so grateful. And even though it wasn't a huge amount of money, it helped. So I just think ask around, see what's available. There's also a lot of books. I wasn't necessarily that dedicated to doing it, but they have books where they list thousands of different scholarships. Some of them are really obscure. So it's another resource you might want to look at.

Speaker 2: Absolutely. I mean, it's worth it. Everything adds up.

Emily: Money is free. It's always been free. It's just a matter of having the time to sit down and look at those.

Speaker 2: And find them. 

Emily: Yeah. And then get accepted. 

Speaker 2: So Maya, I always had a question because, and one thing to let the listeners know you're doing extremely well now. You're doing fantastic. So you're able to work from home now, especially during the pandemic, your little ones are now going to school and that you have a flexible lifestyle. So looking at everything that balance that you have, is there anything that you would want to modify or change? 

Maya Grey: I mean, I'm just so incredibly grateful for where I'm at. I have the schedule that I want. I mean obviously just like everybody else, having the kids home during the pandemic was crushing. It was really hard for my mental health. It was hard for their mental health and it made it really hard to work effectively. So the fact that they're both in school makes things much, much easier. I can't really think of anything that I would change. Honestly, I just love what I do. 

Emily: I'm like, if you wanted to change it, you could with the snap of your finger now kind of. 

Speaker 2: And that's true. Now that you've done everything you've done. Don't you feel like you could do anything? You could figure it all out. 

Maya Grey: Yes. And I really just think that's such an important mindset to have is even if you have an obstacle in front of you, you can figure it out. There are so many resources for me. One of the hard things about being a solo practitioner is not having a community right there. I mean, I really loved my colleagues at the firm. I could just knock on their door and pop in and we just talk or discuss some case issues. And it's hard sometimes just being by myself all day. But what's nice is I have a community. We actually zoom once a month and we email probably daily with questions about our cases. And so that's really helpful. And my suggestion to anyone- 

Emily: What is that? That sounds really neat. 

Maya Grey: Well, it's the friend I told you about who I called when I wanted to transition, she said, hey, I have this group of ladies that we meet once a month and we just talk about family law. And so she invited me into that and I'm so blessed and grateful to her because they're such a fantastic resource. 

Speaker 2: Oh, I love that. So for listeners out there, if you don't have one of those groups create one, make one of those groups. So it's like a book club for lawyers.

Maya Grey: Yes. And the thing is, is that, I mean, I think just putting yourself out there and being open and receptive, you'll find the right people. So I also reconnected with... I had a friend from law school and he's in family law and he went out on his own right after me. And so now we talk all the time as well. So I think once you do it, you'll find more and more people in your field. But I just love the flexibility that I have. I mean, I can go to a doctor's appointment... If I want to just go grocery shopping whatever for hours on end. And it's my own choice because I can run my practice how I want it. And before I would always feel guilty, I'd have to like ask for a sick day or ask for our vacation day. So I think one amazing thing about being an entrepreneur is you really control your own schedule. 

Speaker 2: Definitely. So I do have a question. Do you see this growing? Because the one thing is in some ways it's great to be small. You don't have to manage people, you don't have to do payroll or a lot of different things. Do you see yourself growing your firm or are you happy the size that it's at? 

Maya Grey: I don't know. I've thought about that a lot. I mean, I would love to have a partner. I'd love to have someone who I wasn't necessarily supervising or managing and... Because I'm scared to be an employer. I don't know. I'm scared about what kind of compliance laws I'd have to look at and guaranteeing someone else's salary. 

Emily: I'm like, I can help you with that.

Maya Grey: I mean, I think if I really wanted to do it, I had to, I could figure it out, but it is nice only worrying about myself. I mean, I think of my dream, if I could snap my fingers would be to have my own practice with maybe a partner and a paralegal and maybe an associate and we've been an office, but that probably won't happen for a while.

Speaker 2: Okay. I hear you. So I do have a question as far as you're the advocate for your client, you have to tell them hard news a lot of times and it may not be what they want to hear here. So I'm just curious how do you navigate those waters?

Maya Grey: Yeah. So on my website, I actually say something along the lines of, I'm going to tell you what you need to hear and not what you want to hear. Because there's a lot of people out there that they'll just take your money and tell you whatever you want to hear no matter what the actual law is. And a lot of people spend tens of thousands of dollars of their own precious money to really not get anywhere. So I'm really upfront from the very beginning. And if they haven't read my website, usually sometime during a consult, I'll just say, I know this is really hard to hear, but I'm just going to tell you what I think would happen. And for some people I've had them say, okay, thanks for the consult. And I never hear from them again. Or they'll say that was nice but I'm looking for someone who's willing to do X, Y, Z, because I'm also not willing to tarnish my own professional reputation by arguing something that I know is wrong. I think your professional capital is something to be cherished. So if people don't like what I have to hear and they want to find someone who will tell them what they want to hear, then I wish them all the best. My own clients, there are times that are really hard where I have to tell someone, this is what the law is and I know it feels really unfair and bad to you, but let's come up with a plan for how to make it the most manageable. And some clients take that really well. Other times we have to have a lot of talks about the same thing over and over until they get more comfortable with that.

Speaker 2: Okay. I like that, a lot of talks over and over. So I tend to be that person too, where if it's something I don't want to hear, I'll let it just slip through until someone's reminding me one or two times. But I love that you take that honest approach with your clients and you walk them through everything. And the last thing you want to do is spend money you don't have to do. So it's so great that you help them out.

Maya Grey: And I always tell them too, I really advocate for them getting a therapist because not only is divorce such an emotionally traumatic event for my clients, but also a therapist is as much cheaper than I am. Right? They're going to pay half of what they pay me to actually talk to someone that's trained in mental health and that can really help them move forward. But sometimes I have clients, they don't want to do that. And so they will just... And I'm happy to support them in whatever way I can of course. But I just try to say to them, I'm not a mental health professional, but I'm happy to listen to you if you want to talk to me about this, but also here are some resources maybe that might serve you better.

Emily: And I mean, that's so awesome. I mean, he's sitting here laughing because you're just so self- aware like, you know what you can do and you know what you're capable of and you know what you can offer to your clients and you know, too how trying what they're going through is that you're like, okay, here's the acknowledgement and validation of your situation. Here's what I can do. Here's what I can't do. I can try, but I can reference you to 30 people who can, and you will be a lot better off.

Maya Grey: Yes.

Emily: That's awesome. Yeah. 

Speaker 2: Yes. So I absolutely, I agree, Emily. 

Emily: I think everybody needs to go to therapy. If everyone went to therapy, there would be no war.

Maya Grey: I always try to get in for my clients if I can just to say, are you seeing anybody, do you have anybody to support you? But not everyone has a flexibility to do that. And if they can, it's a great opportunity. 

Speaker 2: I agree, definitely.

Emily: Yeah. Or like a community of people. Like you have with your ladies that you can just call and talk to and consult with any sort of support system that you're just the importance you bring into it, of that factor of, do you have somebody to support you beyond this session? 

Maya Grey: Yes. And I think there's this... For some people, they come out the world from a fear- based perspective or what do you call it? Like a vacuum, but there's only so much for so many people. And I am more of there's enough for everybody, it's abundance. And so when I first started out, I just called up people that I knew were on their own. And I just said, hey, would you be willing to spend 10 minutes talking to me about your journey and how you transitioned from being in a firm to be on your own? And I found that every person I reached out to was more than willing to talk to me. And they all had tips for me. I just think creating that community of people that you admire or look up to, I think that's such a great starting point if you're thinking about changing careers and they can give you tips about how you can start your own business. 

Speaker 2: I love that. Maya, thank you so much. Emily, do you have any other questions for Maya? 

Emily: Just, if you have a funny story or your favorite story, it could be like from your kids experience of you going off on your own. And-

Maya Grey: I don't even know if they're probably funny to other people, but they were like really hard for me. 

Speaker 2: I have plenty of those. Don't worry. 

Emily: Maybe something from the pandemic, because that's even just... I mean, the odds that you started your business, you were like, okay, this is what I'm doing. And I was thinking of the quote, man plans and God laughs. That is what was happening to you during the pandemic and starting your business.

Maya Grey: I mean, there's so many things from the beginning where I was, I have no idea what I'm doing at all. And-

Speaker 2: But the one thing you do know is, you know the law and you're a fantastic attorney. So the hard part is marketing. Suddenly you're an entrepreneur and you have to figure out how to market yourself. 

Maya Grey: Yes, that is true. I feel like... And I don't like talking about myself a lot or putting myself out there in that way. So it was tough to transition into knowing I had to be my own advocate, but I can't think of anything particularly like that funny, just I think for so on many parents during the pandemic, I would be hiding out in my room on a zoom call. I'd have my children pounding on the door, calling for me. And it was just so stressful. And I mean maybe hilarious to look back at it now to just think about how much we all went through, but I'm so grateful that we are past that. And that for the most part inaudible our kids are in school and it's pretty quiet in the home.

Speaker 2: Yes. I was always curious when you were going to trial and you were doing this over zoom, how did you do that with kids in the house?

Emily: Yeah. Yeah.

Maya Grey: I got really lucky because my older son got to go to a... It was the local, what do you call it? Basically, he went to this rec center and they helped him log onto zoom and do homework. And so he was out of the house and then my youngest son was going to preschool. So my first trial, I got so lucky that they were both in school and then you just have to think on your feet. I love technology, so I liked learning how to do all the PDF finders and bookmarks. And I think that if you are someone that you're shy about that to really seek out support because now everything really is online. But yeah, it was definitely a challenge the first time I did, it was like a learning how to give the judge and the party, the exhibits virtually was a learning experience. 

Speaker 2: Very cool. So Emily, are you good with all that? You know how to do everything like that, right? 

Emily: No, I don't. I was actually telling my mom last night, in the distant future, I want to start my own business as well. And I'm like, I'm probably just going to do all of the back ends and I'm fine. I'm as good as I can be at technology, for right now I'm sure I'll learn more. But as far as stuff like that, it's daunting for me.

Maya Grey: I'll teach you. I mean- 

Emily: Thank you.

Maya Grey: I always teach Nina. I mean you're... Yeah. I always-

Emily: Well, and I know I'm not at her level. And I could probably figure out what you're talking about right now. And I'm like, oh, that's what she's... Bookmark the tab that comes up, whatever. But as far as like making my own website and all of that stuff, that I'm just so impressed whenever anybody does it. I'm like, I don't know if I could do that. crosstalk 

Speaker 2: So Maya, I'm just... Oh, sorry. Go ahead.

Maya Grey: No, I was just going to say, thinking back along this past almost two years, there have been so many moments where my most frustrating moments have been with technology or like spending time on the phone talking to customer service reps. I remember waiting on the phone for two hours, just trying to get to help with my website and in the end, no one can help me. So I definitely think if you're starting out on your own, there's going to be bumps along the way and you just try to ride with it as best you can because you'll get through it. 

Speaker 2: I love that. So as far as any online resources for lawyers, is there anything that you want to share or is there anything out there? 

Maya Grey: I think if you're in the legal community and you want to be found by clients, you should put yourself on... There's a platform called Avvo, A- V- V- O and you can create your own profile. You can ask your clients for reviews. You can ask colleagues or opposing counsel for reviews with your experience. And it's a great way to be found. Definitely most of my referrals come from people that I know that have referred them, but the other half come from Avvo or Google searches. So definitely do that. And then also if you join your local bar association, every county has its own bar association and they usually have a family law section or business section or whatever section you're in that can also help you meet new people and get yourself out there.

Speaker 2: I love that.

Emily: So I have one more question that maybe this is a funny story you have, I don't know, because I just don't know how it works with the trials, thought it was good to bring up. Are people now, when you're in the meetings and when you're in the hearings and trials, are they more casual because they know that we've all been online and we're at home most likely with kids or whatever. Are there funny instances where someone will come in and it's the judge dealing with it?

Maya Grey: I mean, I haven't had anything as funny as that lawyer who was the cat, who said, I'm not a cat, I'm not a cat. There are people who will smoke on camera, who are in their underwear, who have really inappropriate pictures in the background. I am always astounded, I'm like you have to pretend you're actually in a real courtroom. And even there's this monthly meeting where we get to talk to the judges and they answer questions. And there's this one attorney, in every meeting she is in basically a T- shirt without any sleeves, you can see all on the side. She's not wearing any bra. And it is just so strange to me that you would let yourself be seen this way in front of judges. And another lawyer too who vapes every single time we talk to the judges. So sometimes I just laugh at inaudible.

Emily: That's crazy. People don't even do that in my class. They'll at least wait until we get to like a breakout room. And again, they're like'30s,'40s. And it's like, they get to the breakout room and they're hitting their vape. I'm like, what are you doing? 

Speaker 2: So that's opposing counsel in front of the judge, they're doing that?

Maya Grey: Yeah, I mean, so I haven't seen it in an actual court proceeding. These people I'm talking about right now, it's like a monthly bar meeting where, oh, it's just lawyers and judges. And the judges are answering questions, but you can see people, if you don't turn off your camera, you can see them. And for some reason, these two particular lawyers I'm thinking of, either they just don't care. Or I don't know what, the judges can't see them, but I'm crosstalk.

Emily: The muscle tee, that's getting me. That's hilarious.

Speaker 2: Well, I like how you're saying, just be professional at all times, especially on camera, because this will never go away. It's out there. It's out there for the ages. So be professional.

Maya Grey: Yes. I just think if you're going to be in front of a judge, you just want to be professional all the times. It's not a cocktail party. It's do you still want to be seen in a light that they can respect you? And I'm not saying that I don't know for sure that the judges are like, oh my gosh, this person's not respectable. But I think of what I would think of them if I were a judge and I wouldn't want to be perceived that way. 

Speaker 2: Yes, that makes sense. So I like that story and by the way, I'm not a cat that... 

Emily: Wait, tell that story because I don't think we talked about it in this. 

Speaker 2: But it was on the internet. In fact, we'll put it in the show notes. So the little nuggets of resources that Maya shared- 

Emily: Oh yeah, yeah.

Speaker 2: ...We'll put it in the show notes. I was crying when I saw that I couldn't stop laughing. Oh, sorry.

Maya Grey: This lawyer and he somehow got a cat filter stuck on his zoom. And so when he talked, he was a cat. Kept saying, your honor, I'm not a cat. It was just hilarious.

Speaker 2: Even opposing counsel was laughing. I mean, it was just so funny.

Emily: Yeah. And I think too, even though you're probably... People are looking at them and we're all like, oh gosh, I wouldn't do that. It's like at the same time, we're all cutting everybody a little bit of slack, we're all human. We all have things and days like that and moments like that, where we just don't care. We're like, just get me through the day. It's hard enough without having to log onto zoom.

Maya Grey: And I think that was in the beginning of the pandemic. And you could clearly tell that his daughter had probably been on a zoom call or in class and he didn't know how to change it. Oh, I felt so bad for him. 

Emily: I think one of the amazing things that's come out of the pandemic is we see more people as human, as having a life outside of work because now, I mean, there are many times where I have to say, oh, I'm so sorry. My sons are at home. So if you hear any noise, please excuse it. And before you know, you would never even tell someone that you have a child or... It's just I love that we are much more human to each other now.

Maya Grey: Yeah. 100%.

Speaker 2: I agree. I absolutely agree. Now you watch TV even and you see kids pop in and yeah, I absolutely agree.

Emily: So most of my professors are judges and they're like, hold on one second. I have to let my kid in. He actually locked himself out of the house or just funny things like that. And we're all like, oh, is he okay? Or they'll bring their cat in and it's just like, not they would never bring an animal or a pet in the screen, but they're like petting their cat and like giving a lecture. We're like, oh, who is that? Who's the guest lecturer. It's just fun. It's yeah. It's more humanizing.

Speaker 2: Absolutely. But Maya, thank you so much for your time today. We do appreciate it.

Emily: Is there anything that you want to say to our listeners so we can leave it off with something from you?

Maya Grey: One thing that I found that really helped me was, I was going through a really hard time at the firm and I was really scared to jump off and I heard this quote and it said that, new beginnings are often disguised as painful endings. And that just made me feel so reassured because sometimes things are really hard. Right? And you're scared and you don't know what will happen next. But usually if you just take the leap and you go through those growing pains, it turns into something wonderful. So I leave you with that quote and wishing you all the best.

Speaker 2: Oh, thank you. 

Emily: Thank you.

Speaker 2: Thank you for being part of our podcast today.

Maya Grey: Thanks for having me on, it's been a pleasure.

Michelle : Thanks so much for listening.

Emily: And don't forget to leave a review and hit five stars and the subscribe button for weekly Thursday episodes on from the Basement Up.


Emily Flanagan

My name is Emily Flanagan, and I am the Project Director of From the Basement Up Podcast. As a recent graduate from Indiana University- Bloomington with my BSPA in Law and Public Poli...

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