Q: Describe your business.
A: We are a full-service special needs planning law firm serving children and adults with disabilities. We primarily help parents who are developing supports and plans for their child, whether young or adult. This may mean establishing trusts and estate plans, establishing guardianship, developing education plans at school, or helping prepare for the transition to adulthood. Our team of lawyers, paralegals and specialists provide all of these services within our firm, which then creates a seamless base of support for the families we serve.
Q: Do you plan to hire additional staff or make any significant investments in your business over the next year?
A: I will increase our staff by about 20%.
Q: What will be the main challenges for your business next year?
A: Scaling our services and creating expansion processes.
Q: What is the hottest trend in your industry?
A: I don’t know if I would call it a trend, but the ability to solve the variety of issues that people with disabilities face in one law firm is unique and cutting edge. We save parents a lot of time, resources and angst with the ability to address and solve multiple issues in one company. My company is the only company in Illinois to do this.
Q: If you had one piece of advice for a beginning leader, what would it be?
A: There is nothing wrong with not knowing the answer to a question or how to solve a problem. Take the time to research the answer and learn.
Q: Do you have a business mantra?
A: We will improve every situation we enter.
Q: From a business perspective, who do you look up to?
A: My husband, Ed, who is a financial advisor. Because he is excellent in listening and understanding people, he can serve them with so much value, adapted to the needs they describe. He is very attentive to his clients, his staff and his colleagues, and leads by example.
Q: What’s an interesting fact about you or your company that most people might not know?
A: Each of our lawyers is a parent of a disabled child.
Q: Was there a moment in your career that didn’t go as you expected? What lesson did you learn from it?
A: When I started my practice 21 years ago, I was very excited despite all the worries of a new business owner. I had everything figured out and a well-developed business plan; I left my secure position at a large law firm in Chicago. Then, two weeks after opening my doors, 9/11 happened.
Like the rest of the world, I was stunned and knew it would impact my new livelihood. To succeed, I studied new areas of law to serve the newly unemployed and those going through the crisis. It took a little longer than expected to build a following, but it worked.
Because I bounced back from such a devastating time for business, I knew I could go through anything. When the pandemic hit, I moved quickly to help employees working from home, incorporated remote conferencing, running documents, and presenting webinars.
The practice has grown significantly during the pandemic – the silver lining is that we now have the remote tools to work with clients all over Illinois.
Q: What do you like to do in your free time?
A: Hiking with my family, playing tennis, reading, spending time with friends.
Q: What book is on your bedside table?
A: “Those Precious Days” by Ann Patchett. Always non-fiction or essays.
Q: What keeps you up at night?
A: Usually I make plans and family schedules, and I worry that I have forgotten something.
Q: If you weren’t doing this job, what do you think you would be doing?
A: I always wanted to be a writer.
Q: What was your first paid job?
A: I started working in my grandmother’s bridal shop (“Clancy’s Corner”) in Elmhurst when I was 11 years old. I started by dressing the models in heavy wedding dresses in the warm, sunny window displays and cleaning the very many mirrors throughout the store. . As I got older, I helped brides try on dresses and place orders. I was 18 when my grandmother passed away and our family closed the store.
A few years ago for Christmas, my dad gave me a wall clock that hung in the store that said “Clancy’s Fashions” on its face. This clock hangs in our offices today as a reminder of the precious time I spent with my grandmother and the pride of being a business owner.
Both of my grandmothers owned businesses at a time when women-owned businesses were unusual, if not rare. Because I witnessed their ambition and confidence, I never doubted that a woman could own her own business.
Q: If you could put your business name on a gym, which would it be?
A: Nelson Road Stadium (where Ted Lasso’s AFC Richmond play).
Q: Two people to follow on Twitter and why. (outside your company)
A: I don’t use Twitter, but if Ted Lasso was a real person, I would follow him. Not only is he hilarious, but he’s a great leader with powerful advice.