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Meet Trailblazer Brenda DeRouen

Today we’d like to introduce you to Brenda DeRouen.

Brenda, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I am a licensed attorney, philanthropist, and managing partner of one of the top family and criminal defense firms in Houston: The DeRouen Law Firm.

Traditionally, most attorneys start their careers off by working with a firm; however after I was admitted to the bar, I started my own. To me, being my own boss and running a solo law practice ultimately means that clients come and go, but the vehicle through which I earn my living will always remain. I never have to worry about being fired, laid off, or not being promoted within a firm simply because of my race and/or gender. Working for someone else is not something that I am particularly fond of which is an early trait I learned from past experiences.

Being a solo practitioner requires discipline and for lack of better terms HUSTLE. Starting off I was afraid to market myself which caused my business to suffer, but after I hung my shingle and started to promote my firm, I landed huge clients from NFL athletes, Olympic Gold Medalists, and celebrity trainers. Hint: #AttorneyForTheStars

I’ve also been featured on several news stations to give legal analysis and advice.

Outside of practicing law, I am a big advocate for higher education and the advancement of women in the legal field. In 2011, I started Project 4-Way, an organization whose mission is to provide scholarships, resources, and mentorship programs to underprivileged youth residing in rural areas. Also, in 2017, I founded the social media platform @WomenofLaw which is designed to empower, inspire, and propel women in the legal field by providing followers with resources and access to helpful information and networking opportunities.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
My biggest struggle was fear and self-doubt. My game plan was simple: work for a firm for seven-ten years, gain experience, and then start my own. However, things did not work out the way I wanted. When I got licensed I applied to hundreds of law firms and received rejection letter after rejection letter, which caused me to doubt my worth. Before starting my own practice, I reached out to other attorneys for advice and was cautioned on how hard it would be. I heard stories about how people struggled to get clients and how it might be best for me to take a low-paying attorney gig doing nominal work until I could find something better.

I had two choices… continue allowing other people to tell me no or give myself permission to go solo early. I decided the latter.

Up to this point, I had no prior business experience, money, or an office. All I had was a license and a son to feed. I knew that I could no longer wait on other people to tell me yes.

So, I made the fear and self-doubt that I had become the motivation for my hustle. I knew that by starting my own firm, I would have to work my ass off not only for myself but for every person who decided to hire me as their attorney. Once I got in that mind-frame things became a little less challenging.

I have six tips for women who are in similar situations:

1. Don’t be afraid to fail. Do things outside of your comfort zone and know that failure is an inevitable part of success.

2. Network. If you want to build a large and successful business, you cannot do it alone. The amount of collaboration and connections that can be gained by a large but close network is invaluable.

3. Get A mentor. It is important to have both mentorship and accountability to make sure you do not get stuck in your own head or the overwhelming demands of having your own practice.

4. Be confident. Believe you can do it and you are most of the way there. Confidence has landed me some of my biggest clients.

5. Keep learning. The key to growth, innovation, and success is knowledge.

6. Have BIG plans. We often underestimate our own potential and fail to dream big enough. Always think about the legacy you want to leave behind and make short and long-term goals that align with your legacy.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Derouen Law Firm – what should we know?
DeRouen Law Firm is a premier law firm serving individuals in Harris, Brazoria, and Montgomery counties. Our practice areas include family law litigation and criminal defense. We are dedicated to advocating for  our clients and getting them the justice they deserve.

Finding a mentor and building a network are often cited in studies as a major factor impacting one’s success. Do you have any advice or lessons to share regarding finding a mentor or networking in general?
Follow @womenoflaw.

Join organizations both that relate to your field of work and those that do not. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people you consider role models. Most people are open to helping or at least guiding you in the right direction.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Sway Ambrose

Getting in touch: VoyageHouston is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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