It sometimes may look easy from the outside, but for Attorney Yaida Ford that’s not necessarily the case as it relates to the ebbs and flows of entrepreneurship. She first opened her law firm in 2012 and has been in business for almost a decade. The Ford Law Pros P.C. based in Washington, DC is fully committed to serving its clients in the areas of Estate Planning, Community Associations, Landlord-Tenant, Civil Rights, Employment Law, and Consumer Protection.

Attorney Ford has inspired so many through her purpose-driven mission, tireless work ethic, and relentless stance for justice. We recently caught up with her for an exclusive interview on her evolution of entrepreneurship.

Talk about your journey to entrepreneurship. Was it difficult to open your own firm after law school, were you able to get financing, etc.?

Actually, I opened with no financing.  I worked out of a public library for about 6 months and saved up enough money from a legal temp job to put up the first month’s rent at an office building. Once I obtained a full-time office, I stopped temping and started taking on clients full-time.

How do you balance being a highly active and sought-after attorney, and running a law firm?

Honestly, there is no balance. The one measuring stick that has helped me keep a good reputation in this business is knowing when I have to decline cases.  Taking on too many cases is a recipe for failure and dissatisfied clients. So, to provide high-quality service to my clients, I make sure that I have the space to give each client the time and attention that they deserve and that means limiting what I take on and managing expectations as to when I can take on a client with a larger need.

Did the pandemic cause you to have to pivot your business in any way?

Absolutely, yes! When the courts shut down, our revenue slowed down and ultimately it came to a screeching halt.  I had a few active cases in litigation that paid the bills for a few months but the thing about litigation is that it will come to an end at some point and if you cannot take on new cases, you’re stuck.

In this instance, DC law would not permit lawyers to file certain types of cases during the pandemic and if you could, you couldn’t collect any money—it was crazy and it still is.  I had to furlough staff for the first time ever for about 8 months.  It was such a painful experience. I finally decided to sell off some of our assets so that I could bring my staff back to work.  I had my full team back and up and running by April 2021!

Talk about the importance of having a team and the right people on your team in the business.

Having the right people on your team is critical but the most important thing is communication amongst the team.  The difference between failure and success hinges on the quality of the communication between myself (the leader) and my staff as well as my staff’s ability to communicate clearly with one another.  You can have a team with highly skilled people that can still fail to deliver due to poor communication.

According to Fast Company, women of color are launching businesses higher than any other demographic. What are your thoughts on this statistic?

It is not surprising that women of color are the fastest-rising entrepreneurs globally. We are problem-solvers by nature.

How do you feel about working in a mostly male-dominated industry practicing law?

The legal field was 30% female in the 1980s and that figure has not changed at all in 31 years.  But I see being in a male-dominated industry as an opportunity.   I have a unique combination of practice areas and I am often one of a few women in my specific line of work. In fact, most of my referrals come from male colleagues.

Some people (particularly on the social media world) give the illusion that being a “Boss” is super easy but what would be your advice to women in entrepreneurship today?

Don’t rush to hire internal staff.  Get to know every aspect of your business so that at a minimum, you know what skill sets you to need.  Do not handle anything that is outside of your wheelhouse, such as taxes and bookkeeping—let the professionals handle it.  And when you first start out, your focus should not be on your “brand” or your image.  You need to focus on your craft so that you can build a brand around something that you are actually good at.  Then you can build a team around who understands who you are and your vision for your business.  This gives them a reason to stay with you beyond the fact that they are getting a decent paycheck.

Photo Credit: Lance Curry

To connect and learn more: