Angela Swartz/Daily Journal
Lawyers Mary Lin, left, and Quynh Tran, right, began their own practice a year ago after leaving Burlingame’s Carr McClellan.
Best friends, colleagues at a major law firm and now founders of a new boutique firm, two women are embarking on their second year running their own group all while one had a baby.
Mary Lin, 40, and Quynh Tran, 45, officially launched the Bay Wealth Legal Group Jan. 18, 2013. They originally met at the Burlingame-based Carr McClellan Ingersoll Thompson Horn and became fast friends, both working in the estate planning department.
“In a nutshell, it was a really great friendship that turned into a really great partnership,” said Tran, who attended University of California at Los Angeles for law school and was at Carr McClellan for more than 13 years. “It was tough decision because I had been there a long time and had strong relationships with the attorneys there, but I always thought I wanted to have more control over my practice.”
The group Anderson Yazdi Hwang Minton + Horn LLP of the estate planning group in Carr McClellan also recently formed from the original practice. Lin and Tran, who have more than 27 years of combined law practicing experience, said it’s a trend for estate planning practices to separate from firms.
“Apparently we started a trend,” laughed Tran.
Lin adds they have more flexibility at their own firm.
“Estate planning is unique because we work with more individuals and families instead of companies, so it’s a very personal relationship,” said Lin, who is originally from Canada and graduated from Harvard Law School. “It’s been fabulous and part of the reason we started the firm was that we saw a real need in the marketplace and our instincts were correct.”
Their new practice is in Redwood City since it’s a midpoint between San Francisco and Silicon Valley and they can serve a diverse client base here, they said.
The women put in as many as 100 hours a week when they first began the firm and Lin gave birth to a baby boy nine months ago. She admitted she was up working until 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. the night before her scheduled labor induction when her husband told her she needed to stop working. She does have the help of a nanny and her husband, she said.
“It’s definitely not good for work-life balance,” she said. “It’s for pure professional satisfaction.”
Lin’s and Tran’s lives mirror each other in many ways. Both are married to lawyers, live in San Carlos and have two sons. Both are also fluent in languages other than English, which they say helps them serve a diverse group of clients. Lin speaks Mandarin, while Tran knows Vietnamese. The two are so close and involved in their work they admitted they missed the coming of 2014. As the last few seconds were counting down to midnight they were on the phone discussing business.
The two have found building their own business from the ground up is very rewarding and difficult at the same time. Lin notes it’s not for the faint of heart.
“We occupy a really important niche and have found the response to be really amazing,” Tran said. “It’s been challenging because not only have we created legal services, but we’ve learned to be entrepreneurial and enterprising; it’s really empowering at same time.”
Lin said she and Tran represent a growing trend of female-run companies.
“We are a women-owned business and that’s an empowering sort of message,” Lin said. “You see more and more women setting out and making their own destinies. Our first year went above expectations and hope for this year to be even better than last year.”
Although it is just the two of them for now, along with part-time staff, they hope to grow the practice organically in the next few years. They’re both still putting in about 50-80 hours a week and for a while Lin said she regularly went to bed at 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. They currently have a satellite office in San Francisco and are considering adding another in Burlingame.
Other firms have offered to merge with Bay Wealth Legal Group, but the women would like to keep their autonomy.
For more information visit baywealthlegal.com.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 105