Davina Frederick | How to Scale Your Law Firm to 7 Figures or More

Professional opportunities abound for women lawyers, yet many women hesitate to pursue their dream of starting and owning a law practice. Many of those who do take the leap still struggle with building their business into a saleable asset that supports their lifestyle (both now and in retirement).

Before my guest, Davina Frederick, started her law firm in 2007, she worked in professional services marketing. Thanks to her familiarity with marketing and litigation and the struggle she saw other women law firm owners have with building sustainable practices, she rebranded in 2020 to serve them as a law firm growth strategist and business coach. Now, she helps women lawyers achieve their goals and overcome challenges in their professional and personal lives.

In this episode of The Lawyer’s Edge podcast, you’ll learn about the importance of starting and scaling your practice, the consequences of not building your business into an asset, and why women lawyers too often shy away from going into business for themselves. Davina will also give you an outline of her framework for scaling your law firm business to $1,000,000 or more.



2:31 – Why it’s so important for women to scale their law firms instead of staying solo

5:54 – Advantages for women lawyers who start and scale their own practice instead of working in others

10:40 – Why many women lawyers think smaller than they should about what’s possible for them

13:57 – How your upbringing and early career can have an impact on what you decide to do for yourself

18:29 – How your money story can be a big obstacle to growing wealth through scaling your practice

22:26 – The internal aspect you can always change that drives what you choose to focus on (even if you have external obstacles in your way)

28:56 – Why there are more opportunities than ever to get support, make connections, and achieve success

30:56 – Davina’s framework for scaling your law firm to seven figures or more and the journey that led to its creation

40:50 – The only thing that matters when it comes to owning and scaling your business and what gets you to the next level

Connect with Davina Frederick

Davina Frederick is a Florida-licensed attorney, law firm growth strategist, and business coach for women law firm owners.

She graduated from the University of Central Florida in Orlando, FL, with a B.A. in journalism, and she received her J.D. from Barry University Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law in 2007. Prior to starting her own law firm in 2007 and growing it successfully during the 2008 recession and its aftermath, she enjoyed a career as a professional services marketer. In 2013, she founded D. Frederick Media and Marketing, LLC, with the goal of helping professional service business owners implement their marketing strategies. However, she quickly discovered that most did not even have a strategy! She then began to work with her clients to develop strategic growth plans for their businesses and to coach them through implementing these plans, including how to market and sell, cultivate A+ teams, and set up systems-based businesses.

Since most of Davina’s clients were women law firm owners who wanted the inside scoop on how Davina had successfully created and scaled her own law firm, she began to focus on serving just women law firm owner clients. In 2020, Davina rebranded her company to reflect this shift, creating Wealthy Woman Lawyer®. Wealthy Woman Lawyer® assists women law firm owners scale their law firms into $1M+ wealth-generating businesses without overwork or overwhelm.

Davina is the author of two books: The Wealthy Woman Lawyer’s Guide to Law Firm Marketing in the Virtual Age: 10 Bold Actions to Take Now to Attract Your Ideal Clients with Total Ease and The Wealthy Woman Lawyer’s Guide to a Systems-Driven Law Firm Business: 7 Essential Systems You Need to Take Back Your Time, Avoid Burnout, and Create Lasting Wealth. She’s also the founder and host of the Wealthy Woman Lawyer podcast—the #1 podcast for Women in Law in the U.S. Davina believes all women lawyers deserve to be wealthy women lawyers if that is their desire. Women lawyers, particularly women law rm owners, work too hard to serve others, not to live fulfilled, prosperous, and enriched lives.

Wealthy Woman Lawyer | LinkedIn

Wealthy Woman Lawyer Podcast

The Wealthy Woman Lawyer’s Guide to Law Firm Marketing in the Virtual Age by Davina Frederick

The Wealthy Woman Lawyer’s Guide to a Systems-Driven Law Firm Business by Davina Frederick

Mentioned In How to Scale Your Law Firm to 7 Figures or More

“The Dirty Word No Law Firm Owner Wants to Utter” | Wealthy Woman Lawyer Podcast

“The Lawyer’s Edge with Elise Holtzman” | Wealthy Woman Lawyer Podcast

Get Connected with The Coaching Team at hello@thelawyersedge.com

The Lawyer’s Edge


Today’s episode is brought to you by the coaching team at The Lawyer’s Edge, a training and coaching firm which has been focused exclusively on lawyers and law firms since 2008. 

Each member of The Lawyer’s Edge coaching team is a trained, certified, and experienced professional coach AND either a former practicing attorney or a former law firm marketing and business development professional. Whatever your professional objectives, our coaches can help you achieve your goals more quickly, more easily, and with significantly less stress. 

To get connected with YOUR coach, just email the team at hello@thelawyersedge.com.

Welcome to The Lawyer's Edge, where we talk with top attorneys, legal industry experts, and business advisors about tools and strategies lawyers can use to grow thriving law firms and become impactful leaders. Here's your host, Elise Holtzman.

Elise Holtzman: Hi, everyone. It's Elise Holtzman here, a former practicing lawyer and the host of The Lawyer's Edge Podcast, where I sit down with successful attorneys, legal marketing specialists, business leaders and authors to talk about how lawyers and law firms can grow and sustain healthy, profitable businesses.

Today's episode is brought to you by The Coaching Team at The Lawyer's Edge, a training and coaching firm which has been focused exclusively on lawyers and law firms since 2008. Each member of The Lawyer's Edge Coaching Team is a trained, certified, and experienced professional coach and either a former practicing attorney or a former law firm marketing and business development professional.

Whatever your professional objectives, our coaches can help you achieve your goals more quickly, more easily, and with significantly less stress. To get connected with your coach, just email the team at hello@thelawyersedge.com.

I am so excited to welcome today's guest, Davina Frederick. Davina is an attorney, law firm growth strategist, and business coach for women law firm owners. Prior to starting her own law firm in 2007 and growing it successfully during the 2008 recession and its aftermath, she enjoyed a career as a professional services marketer.

In 2013, she got back into marketing for professional services firms. In 2020, Davina realized that she was attracting women lawyers as clients and rebranded her company to serve that demographic.

Her firm, Wealthy Woman Lawyer, assists women law firm owners to scale their law firms into one-million dollar plus wealth-generating businesses. Davina is the author of two books, The Wealthy Woman Lawyer's Guide to Law Firm Marketing in the Virtual Age, and The Wealthy Woman Lawyer's Guide to a Systems-Driven Law Firm Business.

She's also the founder and host of the Wealthy Woman Lawyer podcast, and I recently had the pleasure of being a guest on that show, so definitely make sure you listen in to Davina's podcast. Davina, welcome to The Lawyer's Edge.

Davina Frederick: Oh, thanks, Elise, so much for having me here. I'm excited to be here today.

Elise Holtzman: I'm excited to be with you too. As you and I have discovered when we get on the phone, we can just talk forever and ever about all the things going on in our lives and going on with lawyers. I think you and I are both super passionate about some of the same things. I think this is going to be a fun conversation.

I want to dive into the specifics of what you do on a daily basis. Why do you think it's so important for women law firm owners to scale their law firms instead of staying solo throughout their careers? What are the benefits there?

Davina Frederick: I think it's so important for women to scale their law firm businesses because you will never achieve the time and money freedom that you want to achieve and be able to live the lifestyle you want unless you can create a wealth-generating business that can operate without your day-to-day presence.

I think the mistake that so many solo lawyers make, women and men, is working a career for 10, 20, 30 years as a solo with maybe a few staffers or maybe an associate every day on end and never really scaling their business to operate without the need for them to be involved on a day-to-day basis.

It creates two essential problems if you continue to do that. I've seen it, unfortunately, sadly, my inspiration in this business was some of my friends who were in their 50s and 60s who had worked their whole lives as solos, and when it came time to retire, by retire I mean, take care of their future financial selves, not just quit working as a lawyer, but really figure out how they're going to live a life now as they're older and continue to support themselves financially, and they hadn't adequately prepared, and they didn't have an asset that they could sell because they never built a business that was separate from them that could be a separate asset that could be sold.

In other words, if somebody attempted to buy their law firm, well, they wouldn't get them with it and the clients likely would go. I mean, why buy it when you could just go wait till they close down and you could just pitch and get their clients? There’s no value there.

I had friends in that situation where they didn't have very much money and they hadn't really created a business so they didn't have an asset they could sell. It's mostly women, and it's disturbing to me. As women, so many of us go into our 50s and 60s, and that's a real time of change in our lives where 55 I think, is the average age of widows, 55 or 58, I can't remember, is like the average age of widows in the US.

I think women don't often think into the future and think, “Well, what if something happens to my spouse? What if I wind up alone? What if I've got to take care of parents as they get older and I can no longer work the way I am now? What kind of financial preparation have I made?”

You simply aren’t prepared if you're working 14 hours a day in your business all day every day. How can you adapt to those changes? I just think that it really creates more resources and more options for us if we can scale to the point where we have a systems-driven business that's operated by a team of high performers.

Now we can dip in and out as we need to. We can travel. We can live a fuller life. We can have more time with our kids. We can have more time with our aging parents. There are a lot of things, demands on women's time, especially as we age. I'm just a big believer in setting yourself up for that long-term success.

Elise Holtzman: On the flip side, you've also talked about the advantages that you think women lawyers gain by starting and scaling their own law firms instead of working in bigger law firms.

I came out of big law and I work with firms of every size, but there's something seductive about staying in a big law firm if you can stand the hours, the politics, and all of that sort of thing, so what do you think is better about growing and scaling your own practice?

Davina Frederick: Well, I mean, I certainly think everybody has different needs and one of the things that my husband said to me when I was first starting my law firm is, I'm like, “Of course, what if it doesn't work?” He says, “Well, if it doesn't work, you go get a job someplace or you could partner,” those things.

He had worked with lawyers for years, 20 years at that point, he said, “The life of a lawyer, you're in your career, you may do many things. You may work in a law firm, you may work for yourself, you may partner with somebody, or you may work in-house someplace or for the government. All kinds of things can happen in a lawyer's career.”

Certainly that happened to you. You were working in big law, and then the point came in your life that no longer suited your needs. But for me in particular, I think the big law model, and it may be changing, certainly, we're in 2024, but at the time when I started doing this, the big law model was really a boy's network, a good old boys network, and women, my career in the professional world in the '90s was really about fitting into a model that served men, that was designed and created for and served men, and it didn't really serve women as well.

I saw women making choices between their career and having children. I was one of those women. I made a choice to have a career because I didn't feel like I could do what was necessary to be a mother at that time and have the career that I wanted to have because life wasn't really set up that way in a professional world and working for others.

Nowadays, I'm very excited that there are so many more opportunities for women to start their own law firms. Because now we can create a model to bring our vision to life of what we think would be a good business model that will support people with all different kinds of lifestyle needs.

I have a woman law firm owner client who has an all-virtual firm, they’re all women right now, a lot of people who work for her are young mothers and she has six attorneys working virtually plus herself and her staff. They're all virtual.

It works well for them because they are able to take care of their families. They're able to take time off the way they need it. But they're also expected to perform and get the work done. But it's not to the degree it would be of a traditional law firm where you'd work 2500 hours a year.

It's interesting to see women creating models and showing that they do work. It's also exciting that the internet and social media have been a real game changer for solos and small firms and people who are growing small firms because now we're able to get directly to our prospective clients, and a lot of them don't know the difference between a midsize firm and a small firm when they're looking for a lawyer because of the presentation on the internet and on social media.

I think there's a tremendous opportunity. It's been very exciting for me to see so many young women, younger women, coming right out of the gate, starting their own law firm, and growing it successfully into a business. One of the things that I always told women is that at some point, those big law firms that we see out there, that's a big law firm, that big law firm was started by two bros who went to college together, they graduated from law school together, and they said, “Let's start our own law firm,” then now we see the end result of that two, three decades later.

Women can do the same thing. Women can graduate from law school, become partners with their friends from law school, start a law firm business and 20, 30 years from now, they have a legacy firm, they have a midsize law firm, a large law firm, whatever it is they want, an international law firm, whatever their vision is, they have the ability to create it.

I'd like to see more. That's why I really encourage women not to stay solo, but to really give themselves permission to dream bigger. Because if two guys from law school can do it, you can do it, you know?

Elise Holtzman: Let's talk about that a little bit. To the extent that you see women who don't dream bigger, who think that the best place for them or perhaps the only choice for them is to be in a tiny little firm or to continue working for a larger firm where they don't really have the power of choice, where they can't set their lives up to work for them rather than working the way the law firm wants them to work, what do you think those women are saying to themselves? Why do you think it is that women are perhaps thinking smaller than they could be?

Davina Frederick: I think there are a number of things. One is I think there's worry, and worry, “Can I do this? Can I support myself? Can I make as much money? Can I afford the benefits? There's my family needs benefits.” There are a lot of those things that go into the calculation.

But also I think, at least for, I'll say heterosexual women, there is a tradition of relying on a spouse, especially during years of having children so there's a vision maybe that some have that says, "My spouse will be the provider and whatever I make is gravy or is extra for our family."

There are some people who have that vision for themselves and that's fine. There's nothing wrong with people having their own vision and dreams for their lives. But my argument is that if not women lawyers, then who?

Women lawyers are so highly educated and so capable of protecting themselves financially for their future. To abdicate that or turn that over to somebody else and not make that a priority is just something that I would like to make people aware of that they have a choice to do something differently and they need to be thinking of it.

So I'm a little bit of an alarmist. As somebody who's crossed the 50 mark, I'm sounding the alarm that I wish somebody had been able to get through my head at 30, and that is that relationships—I love my husband to death, we're about to celebrate our 21st anniversary, we've known each other for 26 years—but life changes, things can happen. He and I have both been married before. We both have been divorced. When we got divorced, both of us took financial hits in the relationship.

So you may think, "I'm going to be this person forever and nothing's going to happen." But divorce happens, death happens, all kinds of things happen. I'm really a feminist in this way that I think that everybody should have a responsibility and also an opportunity to take care of themselves, provide for themselves, regardless of what happens around them.

I know that I can afford to support myself. I can cook for myself. I know how to take care of myself. I think that's important for every person. At different phases in your life, that may be a choice that you and your spouse make to one or the other to rely on the other. But I just think it's always good to have that in your back pocket. So that's why I'm an advocate of that.

Elise Holtzman: So much of this, obviously, is how you were raised, the messages that you received when you were growing up, how people responded to you early on in your career perhaps, and as you say, the relationships that you have and what people decide to do for themselves going forward.

In my case, it never occurred to me to own a business. I did not grow up in an entrepreneurial family. My mother was a speech-language pathologist who always worked for a school system and my father was in the insurance business and always worked for a company.

Having said that, my sister and I were raised to be able to stand on our own two feet. As a result, we both went to law school because the way it was put to us was “We want you to have a trade, each one of you to have a trade, so that you never have to rely on a school system and you never have to rely on a company. Even if you get married to the love of your life, you never have to rely on a man.”

So to your point, I was raised that way, even though entrepreneurship hadn't come up for me. The idea was that if you really had to and you had a trade, you could always hang out your own shingle and make a living. While you and I know that it's a little more complicated than that, I think it is an important message for women to hear. Then of course, whatever they choose, obviously is going to be hopefully a good fit for them. They have the right and the opportunity to choose that.

Davina Frederick: Yeah. If you don't mind, I'll just add on to that for a little bit. My parents were both government workers their whole lives. My dad worked for the state. When my youngest sister went back to school, my mother volunteered in a school, and then eventually that led to a job in the school system. She worked for the county for her career.

I came from government workers, but I also came from people, my dad was born into abject poverty. I mean, the kind of poverty where you've got two pairs of pants, one you wear to school and one you wear at home. As the next generation does, I wanted a better life and we were able to get college educations that weren't available to my parents.

But my parents, it's very interesting because they wanted us to be able to take care of ourselves by being able to get a job. My dad says, “Learn typing so you can be a secretary and have something to fall back on.” He couldn't envision what we do now and how we function in the world.

I think my mother working when we were small, even though she did it as a housewife who worked instead of like a career person, that inspired all of us too because she always worked and my dad worked and everybody had a job to do and our education was our job and then our job was our job. So we were brought up with that kind of work ethic.

But what I had to learn that I didn't get was that there were no entrepreneurs in my family and there's nobody who understood how to build wealth. My parents did much better than the generation before them with that hard work ethic. But wealth building goes beyond that to connections and understanding relationships and connections and who you know and that kind of thing.

Learning how to grow money, manage money, all of those things were things that I had to learn. So from whatever circumstances we're from, hopefully, we have long lives and we have opportunities to learn. My husband was the one who inspired me. I met him, he was a friend of mine for many years and he was an entrepreneur. He had his own business, ironically working for attorneys. This was before I became an attorney and I really loved his lifestyle. I loved what looked like from the outside as freedom.

Of course, he was always attached to that phone back then and it was very hard. His clients were tough being lawyers and insurance defense lawyers. He was the one who really inspired me to an entrepreneurial journey because I could see his philosophies and thoughts. We would discuss things and it opened up a whole world to me that I didn't know was available to me because I had only been exposed to you work, you get a paycheck, you work, you get a paycheck, and that was very important, the consistency of that paycheck.

For my dad, when we were young, his secret to wealth was that consistent paycheck that he got every month, every couple of weeks, or however he got paid at that time. Because when he grew up, he didn't experience that. I do think we can always learn something new and be exposed to something new, and it changes our world.

Elise Holtzman: I love this focus on growing wealth, expanding what's already there, and not just trading time for money, so trying to grow your business, scale your business. What is the biggest obstacle that you see women face when they've made up their mind, “Okay, I'm ready. I want to grow and scale a practice”? Perhaps what are the obstacles in general and maybe what is the biggest one?

Davina Frederick: Well, I think there are many obstacles and it's all different for each person, but I will say one of the obstacles is this idea, this fear around money and our money story. I mean, and I'm an example of that.

I grew up with a lot of fear around money, not having money, not having enough money to pay bills, that kind of thing. So we have a story we tell ourselves about money and our relationship about money.

I see it with clients who come to me, they've never had money, so they don't know how to manage money, or they grew up in wealth, but somebody else dealt with it. They never really had to deal with it because somebody else did.

Sometimes I meet women whose spouses deal with it, or whose parents dealt with it, or whatever. So then when it comes down to you, there's this idea of, “I don't want to think about it. I want to avoid it. I want to avoid thinking about money,” because for some people, “Somebody else is always taking care of it so I don't have to think about it,” and for other people, “It's scary because I could get it, I could lose it, I don't want to lose it once I have it.” There are all these thoughts.

I think our mindset around money is complicated. It's not just people think money and they go, “Oh, well, I don't need a million dollars,” but then I start saying, “Well, let's see. You just told me that you want to put your kids in private school, you want to help them pay for college, you want to travel around the world,” most of my clients want to travel internationally these days, “You want to take four trips a year out of the country, you want to buy a beach house or whatever,” whatever people's dreams are.

When we sit and start doing the math on that, and most people don't even mention retirement to me, and I did a whole podcast episode on this because I find it fascinating, so I reframed retirement because I think people have this vision of “I'm never going to quit working because they can't imagine being at a stage in their life when there's just no energy to work, which I have witnessed with my parents. They couldn't do what I do at my age.

There comes a time when everybody's lives are going to shift if we're lucky enough to live long enough. So I sit down and do the math of people. I'm sure you do this too, where you say, "Look, you want all these things. To get all these things, we need resources." Resources, more resources provide us with more options for how we live our lives.

If you'll say, “Well, I don't want it, it's not about money,” well, if you're saying it's not about money, first of all, you're wrong because you haven't addressed the reality of life in a capitalist society. You need money to have medical insurance. You need money to have a nice house to live in. That has become more and more unaffordable these days. You need money to pay off those student loans that you have.

I think oftentimes, particularly with millennials and Gen Z under us, there's this student loan anchor, this hopelessness that comes with “This will never be paid off. I will never get out from under this. I will never own a home.” I'm hopeful and I believe that there are options.

I look around me everywhere and I see people everywhere who are making ample money to take care of all of those things and more and go live the life that they want. I think that's available to people. “If they can do it, you can do it” is my philosophy.

Elise Holtzman: The irony of all of this, I tend to think, is that the obstacle that you just described is not an obstacle that is external to you. It's not like anybody is throwing this obstacle in your way. It's not that you have to jump over certain hurdles physically to get there.

This is an obstacle that is an internal obstacle. This is a mindset obstacle and a mindset shift that can be made. I see so many people who are talking about how on the one hand, they really want more money so they can do the things they love to do. On the other hand, they feel almost guilty about wanting the money and talk about, “Well, I don't really need the money,” then they're getting angry at people who do seem to have more money.

I think that there's a lot of work that people can do around this issue and it sounds like you're doing that work with your clients to help them move that obstacle out of the way.

Davina Frederick: Yeah. I mean, we're two middle-aged White women having this conversation and I want to acknowledge that there are people who have had external obstacles that are very real. If you grow up in a community that doesn't support wealth or understand wealth and you have no idea, then that hampers your ability to do it.

I understand that. As women, as minorities, there are all sorts of different people that do have very real and valid external obstacles. And also, you get to choose how you want to live. Everybody has obstacles, and some may be worse than others, for sure. But it's a choice where you say, “Well, this is something that to me is worth pursuing.”

I look at wealth, as I said, as resources. The more resources you have, the more options you have. That means the more connections to people in certain places. The more financial wealth, the more education. All of these things are advantages that can help us get to where we want to go. Your mindset is a big driver into what you choose to focus on.

Elise Holtzman: Two thoughts came up for me, Davina, while you were sharing that. One is that you can make a mindset shift. I think that many people, and I was one of them a long time ago who thought, “I'm stuck with what I grew up with. I'm stuck with my thoughts. There's nothing I can do about them.” The thoughts pop into your head and so there they are and you're stuck with them. What I've learned over time is that you can make that shift.

It's not necessarily easy, but it is a choice that you make and you can get help with it and you can do all sorts of things to help create that environment in your own mind. I think that is an important point.

I also think that to that point, I have an example of what you're talking about with a very serious mindset shift, two examples actually, one comes from my dad. Again, straight White male who's currently 88 years old, but he did grow up in a family where he was essentially told, “We're nothing, therefore you'll be nothing.” So he wasn't given an opportunity.

Nobody ever said, “Are you doing a good job in school?” Nobody ever encouraged him to go for higher education. He decided to do some of those things himself, he and my mother made a conscious decision that that's not how they were going to raise their children and that they were going to raise us to believe that even though we didn't come from any kind of fancy background, that we had modest beginnings, that we could do what we put our minds to.

Now, whether or not we can all achieve exactly what we want all the time is another story, but at least cultivating that mindset in us made a tremendous difference for my parents and for us.

The other example that I have is a friend of mine who's a few years older than you and I are, and she grew up in a family, she's the youngest of seven children, and she was very, very good in school. The guidance counselor at one point said to her, "Listen, you're so smart. I think you could really apply to an Ivy League school."

She went home and said something to her parents about it, and they quite frankly laughed in her face and said, “We don't pay for girls to go to college.” There were three boys and four girls and the three boys went to college and the parents paid for it and the three other girls did not go to college.

My friend said, “This is ridiculous. I guess I'm going to have to make my own way,” and she did. She found a way to put herself through college, graduated from college, has become a very successful businesswoman in her own right. We have these examples of, “It's not easy,” but these people aren't any different than the rest of us in the sense that they put their pants on one leg at a time.

Davina Frederick: I would say too, when I was coming up in a career, it was my dad's thought of, “You better take typing to have something fall back on” was a very real thing for young women in the early '80s.

We weren't in boardrooms, we weren't in courtrooms. There were a few women, but they were hard-driving career women who sacrificed everything to be there. So times have changed, and I think that does happen. I know people of color listening to this will say, “Well, yeah, but there's a very real obstacle in my way as a person of color in getting into environments where there's not a place for me, there's not an invitation for me,” I do think we're seeing shifts in that culturally and in the legal field.

But if you go look, you pull up any big law firm or pull up multiple big law firm websites, you'll see a lot of named partners and partners who are White men, what I call the White Men Over 50 Club. Now that I'm over 50, I call it the White Men Over 60 Club. Their diversity is women now but we don't see as many people of color, but now we're starting to see some of that change.

I think the country moves slow, the industry moves slow, but I think that now there are people who overcome and who succeed despite some of these challenges and obstacles. That has to do with a lot of factors. Some of that is opportunity and people helping you along the way, as well as mindset.

Elise Holtzman: Yeah. I think that's a really important point too. I always say when you and I were coming up, “There was no such thing as a women's initiative. There was no such thing as coaches. Nobody was talking about these things.”

I always like to encourage people who are saying, “Look, there are real external obstacles here,” yes, and to your point, we must acknowledge that. It's absolutely ridiculous for people not to acknowledge that.

Having said that, once you've made up your mind that there's something you want to do that's different, that you want to break away from some of those obstacles and achieve your own success, I think there is so much more opportunity around in terms of other people supporting you than there ever has been in the past.

Davina Frederick: The internet world makes a lot of that possible. I mean you couldn't reach out, you and I are in totally different states having this conversation, we never would have met back in the 80s. The expansion of our possibility of meeting people who can be your community and support you is huge.

I think community is a big part of success. Even though people will point to women and say, “Well, women are more community-minded,” men in their careers have all been community-minded. There are boys clubs, literal boys clubs. There are golfing communities and all sorts of men relying on men to network and rise above.

I think now we are seeing women do it and women do it in our own way. Our own unique way that women communicate is now we have a lot more access to women in the community who can support each other. Not to say that men can't support us as well but we have that available. I think that really helps that support because I didn't get that support from my family. They love me very much, but this is beyond their comprehension.

Elise Holtzman: Right, the intent was there, but the ability wasn't. I think that that's true for a lot of people, obviously, even in today's world.

Davina Frederick: Right, and so you have to go seek that out. I think it's easier to get that today.

Elise Holtzman: It is easier than ever, which is great news, I think for everybody. Let's go back to this idea of scaling a law firm to seven figures or more. I know you have a framework that you like to offer as a structure for people when they start thinking about doing something of this nature. What does that framework look like?

Davina Frederick: You and I've talked about this, when you're in law school, nobody teaches you how to start a business, grow a business, and be a business owner. We all discussed that. You didn't get that. For me, I started my own law firm right out of law school because I went to law school with the intention of starting my own law firm.

I was 42 when I graduated. I had been in the business world in the corporate world for years and I wanted my own business and I wanted a business that would be able to replace my husband's income.

He was a very high-earning person, but he was miserable in what he was doing. So I chose law school with that intention. Then I get out and I think I know a lot because I've spent years, I certainly knew marketing like the back, so I didn't have any trouble getting clients.

But when it came to actually operating and scaling the business, I was in the weeds on that and had to figure that out. At the time, I didn't really feel like there was anybody I could turn to. I wasn't really aware of services that I could turn to, to help me figure out how to grow a business.

They weren't as prevalent as they are now. The few that did exist were really out of my budget as a new solo. Eventually, I kept working at it and learned a lot of things of my own, relied on the bar association and some things and their law firm management systems and stuff like that.

But I studied business. I mean, I had a minor in business when I was in college, but I studied business, how to run a business, and how to scale a business. Then when I started doing this coaching, I started out by combining my experience as a lawyer, a business lawyer, and then also my experience as a marketer and I started out helping people with how to grow from a marketing standpoint.

Then I realized it's a balance of capacity. You want to get clients, but you need the capacity to serve clients. Then you're developing the capacity to serve clients, oh, now we need more clients. We're developing the capacity to serve more clients. I set out, when I started this coaching program, I took all that I had been teaching people and I put it in a framework.

The framework is something that you may hear a lot of people say in a lot of different ways, but this is my way of saying it, is that we start with mindset. Mindset is interwoven throughout everything. So we really have to work on a mindset of, as lawyers, we’re taught to think like a lawyer, when you want to grow a business, you have to think like a business owner, and like a CEO is what I tell people, think like a CEO.

We have to learn how to do that. The way we learn how to do that is by educating implementation, education, implementation, education, implementation. Because that mindset piece is woven throughout. Then we want to attract better clients. We want to leverage our resources.

A lot of people may have clients, but they don't have good clients because they don't know how to quite target and attract those clients. We have to have that money coming in to raise capital for bootstrapping, to invest in the growth, invest in leveraging our resources.

Once the capital is coming in, now we can invest in leveraging our resources. That is leveraging our time, leveraging the talent of other people, team, and leveraging systems. By that, I don't mean automation, although automation may play a role, I mean actually systematic thinking.

Then, of course, we have to master our money. Mastering the money is where you have to really get over your fear of learning financial language and learning how to manage your finances as a business owner. One of the things that's always shocking to me when I start working with clients is how many just have like, “I don't know what it means. I don't know what a profit and loss means. I don't ever look at how much money I'm making. I see how much is in the bank when I take something out,” and they don't want to really have a good financial system.

So we really focus on helping them develop those skills. Because quite frankly, if you can go to law school and graduate law school and pass the bar and do all those things, you can figure out how to manage finances for a small business.

Elise Holtzman: It is remarkable though, to your point, Davina, how many people don't know what's going on with their finances even when they own their own law firm. I've seen a number of different things.

I've seen, “Well, there's money in the bank, so I must be doing fine.” I've also seen, “I'm the biggest rainmaker in the firm. I bring in more clients than anybody else so I should be compensated the most highly,” only to find out when somebody actually does look at the books that you are not the most profitable person in the firm.

So you may be saying yes to everything and maybe it's not the right work. Maybe you're giving tremendous discounts, but you get to say, “Well, I brought in more clients than anybody else last year.”

So I think it's a little bit of sweep it under the rug and hopefully, it'll all be okay. Being willing to look at the real numbers, being willing to sit with the data I think is important.

Davina Frederick: Taxes are a huge part of owning a business. We have just moved from one state where there was no state tax to a state where there's a state income tax. So now we're trying to figure out federal taxes and state taxes, and of course, all of our payroll stuff and our retirement accounts and all of these things, and it can get complicated.

I mean, it's not like I'm not going to sugarcoat it and say that it's easy being a grown-up and dealing with these kinds of things. It stinks sometimes, but you're perfectly capable. I think it's that confidence that I really want to help instill in people.

If you were able to do these things, you can do this too. What you need is a little bit of confidence, to ask questions, and not be afraid to look stupid. We as high-achieving women don't want to look stupid. We want to look like we know everything. We want everybody from the outside to think we've got it all figured out.

But I will tell you, I worked literally as a bookkeeper for a year. I took a year off when I was in college. I was in for journalism and I took a year off and worked as a bookkeeper. I just applied for the job and got it, had no experience. I wound up managing the books for this couple who own like six different industrial parks.

I was really not very good at it. I was not the best, but I worked, I did it. I learned double-entry accounting, but I hate bookkeeping. So I'm not going to be my bookkeeper for my business. I have a bookkeeper, I have a CPA. I have a financial advisor. I have a team of people who support me in that because a lot of lawyers say, "Well, I don't do math, which is why I became a lawyer."

I was a top student in math until I was 10 years old, and then we started getting into algebra and it all went downhill from there. So I hear you, but that's where you build a team of people who can help you, and then as a business owner, you invest some time in educating yourself and understanding what your books are telling you because your books are your GPS to your business. They're your roadmap. That's what's telling you everything, all the data that you have in your business is what's telling you the health of your business. It really is.

What I mentioned taxes, I've had a number of, I've met a number of women, and I've been doing this for 10 years, like you were doing law for a long time, I've had hundreds of conversations with women law firm owners and I've had a number come and say, “I owe back taxes,” and they're scared around this owing back taxes and it just keeps sitting there and getting worse and worse and I'm like, “You know you can call the IRS and make a like payment plan and it's super easy to do.”

IRS answers the phone, you make a payment plan. There are things that you can do that if you talk to people, ask questions, you get over your shame around it, and just go, "This is just something else I have to figure out," because that's really the key with business.

Businesses, as Abraham Hicks says, "You'll never get it done and you can never get it wrong," because you're creating something, you're a creator, you're creating something that the minute everything is done, well, we're wrapped up and we're closed for business because if we're not always getting clients in, if we're not always serving clients, if we're not always billing clients, and we're not making money and we're not doing, there's always going to be stuff to do. It's never going to be done.

For people who are checklist-oriented, productivity-oriented, and they want to be able to cross everything on the list and have a blank desk, this is not the place for you because there's always going to be something. Life is like that. You cannot get it wrong because you're creating it and it's your vision for it. I think that's the exciting part about it.

It can be whatever your vision is. It doesn't have to be my vision for what your law firm is. You go try it, you go do it, and do the thing that you want to do. Then people like Elise and I are here to support you in that.

Elise Holtzman: That notion to me is such a powerful motivator, especially for the younger generations. The younger millennials, the older Gen Zs who are now starting to come into the legal profession because we know that there are generational differences, that those generations are not content to just say, “Sure, I'm just going to do it the way it's always been done, and that's fine with me. I'm going to build someone else's dream instead of building my own.”

So I think that this conversation, I'm hoping that this conversation, and I suspect hearing you talk about this will be a powerful motivation for many women to say, "You know what? No, it's not going to be easy, but building a gazillion hours for a big law firm or trying to do it all myself in a solo law firm isn't easy either. So if I'm going to work hard, I may as well work to serve my needs and the needs of the people that I love."

Davina, I know you and I could talk about this all day, probably for two days in a row. We already talked about how we need to schedule some more time to hang out. As we wind down our time together today, which unfortunately we have no choice but to do, I'm going to ask you a question that I ask all of my guests at the end of the show.

There's a phenomenon called the curse of knowledge where experts sometimes forget that what is so obvious and natural to them is not at all obvious to others. When it comes to scaling your law firm to seven figures or more, what's a principle or piece of advice that may seem obvious to you, but is super important for people to hear?

Davina Frederick: Oh, gosh, there are so many things because as I said, I'm old and tired and I know a lot of things. But I will say that, so I had a meeting with a group of clients today, and there are always questions about little things and everything, and everybody's always worried that they're not doing it right.

What I would say is that it's not about getting it right, and I think that for a lot of women who are high achieving, we tend to be perfectionists, and we tend to feel like we want the gold stars and the A's, we want to get it right because that's how we achieved what we did so far is by hard work on our own volition, our own will, and we were working at getting the good grades and getting it right.

When you own your own business, there is no teacher to please. There's no judge to please even. When you own your business and growing your business, it's about what you want and nothing else. What do I want? What is my vision for my business? How do I want to show up and serve in the world? How do I want to make my money? What do I want to do with my money?

So this idea that some parent, some judge, some teacher from a past life is there grading, the people are watching you and grading you, it doesn't matter anymore. Now it's about what you want. I think that transition can be hard for people who have been high achieving and they're looking at still getting the good grades.

This is the piece, what got you here is not the same thing that's going to get you to the next level. The next level is going to be about you stepping confidently into leadership and pulling other people into your mission. It can't just be you doing the work now. You can have it all, but you can't do it all.

Elise Holtzman: That means sometimes not being comfortable and not knowing what you're doing and being okay with that for a time.

Davina Frederick: Of course, and that's very hard for good girls who like the gold stars and doing things right and pleasing people. Sometimes we just need to remember it's not about what other people think. There are going to be people who judge. Certainly, I've had a lot of people who judge my decisions, both people close to me and people I don't even know, who look at what I do and they judge it and they comment on it and they tell people behind my back about it or whatever or they say to my face about it.

Their opinion doesn't feed my dog. You know what I mean? I've got bills to pay. “I've got planes to catch and bills to pay,” as Jimmy Buffett would say and so other people's opinions don't fulfill my life, pay my bills, or get any of those things for me and it can be hard if you're used to being a people pleaser but really it's about what do you want. Ask yourself, “What do I want?” and then go for that and don't worry about what other people have to say about it.

Elise Holtzman: I think that's a really powerful way to end, particularly as you say for people who self-selected into law school, they like to check off boxes. They like the accolades of being often the smartest person in the room and the hardest working person in the room. Also, we were socialized to be good girls and in many ways to be people pleasers, and hopefully, that's changing with later generations. But I think that that's incredibly important advice.

I love this conversation. Thank you so much, Davina, for being here with me today. Always a fun time talking to you, and I get great advice.

Davina Frederick: Thank you.

Elise Holtzman: Thank you so much to our listeners for tuning in as well. If you've enjoyed today's show, please subscribe, rate, and review us at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app. In the meantime, be bold, take action, and make things happen. We'll see you next time.

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