Name: Christina DiEdoardo
Business: Law Offices of Christina DiEdoardo
Christina DiEdoardo was just a few months out of law school in Las Vegas when her boss, an attorney with a solo practice, left for maternity leave. Unsure if or when her employer would return, Christina figured she might as well start her own practice. For the next few years, working on myriad “weird and interesting” criminal and bankruptcy cases helped her build a reputation as an attorney to be reckoned with.
So, too, did Christina’s willingness to be a pioneer in her industry. She was the first student at her law school to undergo a gender transition, and she remains the only openly transgender licensed attorney in the State of Nevada. Today, Christina runs her solo practice from her adopted home of San Francisco, where she drives her business forward with passion, dedication, determination and humor. In short, Christina does it her way.
Christina, you built a successful law practice in Nevada. When you moved to California, it meant starting over. That must have been hard.
It wasn’t easy. For quite a while, I commuted from San Francisco to Las Vegas every week to see clients. The TSA and Virgin America folks knew me on a first-name basis. I moved mostly for personal reasons – I’d experienced a lot of “causal” transphobia in Vegas. I don’t mean direct threats. It was just seeing the way the winds were blowing.
Believe it or not, when I moved to San Francisco, I advertised my services on Craigslist. It was the best advertising I’ve ever had – and it was free! Craigslist has changed since then, but it was super helpful when I was getting started.
I’ve experimented with Facebook and Google ads, but not a lot has come from it. For online marketing, my best experience was when I was blogging regularly about court decisions. I was posting original content that linked to government websites, which gave me a higher ranking in Google search.
Problem is, if I’m blogging, it means I’m not doing something else. It’s the dilemma every entrepreneur struggles with!
You’ve worked for yourself your entire career. What do you know now that you wished you known when you were getting started?
Looking back, I think I was too ready to jump in with big investments and unnecessary costs. Now, I keep as small a footprint as possible.
For example, instead of renting an office, I have a virtual office in downtown San Francisco. For a monthly fee, I get an address in a hoity-toity part of town where all my mail is delivered, including packages that need to be signed for. I can rent a room by the hour any time I need to meet someone in person.
I also make a lot of house calls. My clients love the convenience, and I keep my overhead down.
Have you thought about hiring employees?
For a brief time, many years ago, I hired someone. I discovered I supervise the way I want to be supervised: I give someone a task, tell them when it’s due and then leave them alone to get it done. I learned this strategy doesn’t work for most people. I was spending more time managing things than if I’d taken care of the task myself.
When I delegate, I’m up at night wondering if everything got done. And I’d never trust anyone else with calendar duties. I’d be so worried something didn’t get scheduled, I’d never sleep!
What’s great about being your own boss?
The best part of working for myself is the freedom – clichéd, but true. When I was still in Vegas, I once called a meeting with my Board of Directors. I asked the CEO (me), the CFO (me) and the COO (me) if we should have an executive retreat in San Francisco on New Year’s Eve. We all agreed it would be great for company morale.
On a more serious note, I love being able to quickly make decisions on behalf of my clients. I work with district attorneys who have no jurisdiction to do anything on their own. How insulting must that be? I couldn’t function that way.
You’ve represented transgender people, worked pro-bono for sex-worker rights groups and fought against a proposed ban on public nudity in San Francisco. What keeps you going, both as an attorney and an advocate?
I’ve learned it’s amazing how much you can accomplish when you’re too ignorant to understand what’s impossible. Even if I don’t win every case, at least the record shows someone objected. It helps move things forward, and it’s a lot better than doing nothing at all.
Before you go
QB Community members, what steps do you take to keep your overhead as low as possible? Please share what you’ve learned in the comments below!
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