Being a working mom always involves tradeoffs—something Hannah Genton understood all too well as an attorney. But when the compromise became too much, the San Francisco–based mom of two started her own firm that grants workers the flexibility she missed out on with her first child.
In a LinkedIn post, Hannah wrote that at her previous firm, she missed out on many of her son’s firsts, including his first time on a swing, and his first time standing up. “My nanny sent me the photos while I was working on IPOs, mergers and financings,” Hannah said. “And I looked at them while I pumped milk in my office, thinking, ‘I should be there with him.’”
Like many new moms back at work, she was torn. “All my life I loved working,” she said. “I was convinced motherhood wouldn’t change that. But as soon as I got home, my son would cling to me. Later, he’d cry for over an hour before falling asleep.”
Her stress manifested in physical ways too. “I was always on my phone. My hair would fall out in chunks in the shower. My nails were so thin they’d break off. Not to mention stress-induced nightmares.”
Six months after she came back from maternity leave, Hannah resigned from her law firm. “A big corporate project came in and something in me refused to focus. I realized I needed to be there for him,” she said of her son.
The benefits of her resignation were immediately clear. “The first night after resigning, Kamilo fell asleep without crying. My hair grew back. My nails got thick. I slept peacefully.”
According to Hannah’s LinkedIn, she worked in the legal field for almost a decade before her resignation. So even as she reaped the rewards of time with her son, “I still wanted to work. And I had the sense that work should adapt to life, not the other way around.”
That’s when she and another mother, Noam Cohen, formerly a business development director at a media company, founded their own virtual law firm. “CGL is a new type of law firm that is dedicated to the well-being of attorneys and delivering exceptional service to our clients,” the women wrote on LinkedIn. “It is a law firm that cares about its attorneys as much as the quality of its work.”
Considering Hannah’s former experience in the legal field, her new law firm is revolutionary. “Our attorneys get to choose where to work from and for how long,” Hannah said. “Our clients get to enjoy top quality work thanks to happy and focused attorneys.”
In an interview with Berkeley Law at the University of California, Berkeley, Hannah and Noam explained that at CGL, attorneys are hired on an hourly rate, or per project. The company’s virtual nature adds to the attorneys’ flexibility. It also means attorneys have access to clients all over the U.S. “The ability to practice law on your own terms is an anomaly in the legal world,” Noam said. “We believe working remotely and having control over one’s time is a recruiting advantage.” The company started in 2017 with a focus on corporate and commercial law and recently moved into marijuana compliance and regulation laws.
Since founding CGL, Hannah had the opportunity to expand her family, without the burnout she experienced in her first foray into working motherhood. “I’ve had a second son since then,” she said. “I was there for all his firsts.”