Leena Yousefi is the founder of YLaw Group, a litigation firm that specializes in matrimonial Property Division, Child Support, Spousal Support, Immigration and Criminal law.
Prior to operating a law firm, Leena grew up with a vision of helping people and faced several challenges before working for one of the biggest Family Law firms in BC and ultimately becoming a young successful lawyer in Vancouver.
Leena Yousefi was able to sit down with 604 Now in between trials and shared some of her life experiences:
“YLaw.” Sounds like the perfect question. So, why law? What inspired you to pursue a career as an attorney?
It is no secret to many around me that I chose to become a lawyer at a time when I was failing my undergraduate courses, was kicked out of university and knew others had no hope or expectation that I would ever ‘achieve’ anything. I became a lawyer because I wanted to show them that I do not have to be perfect at a certain stage of life in order to be successful at another; that I do not have to follow the same path everyone else was following. So I guess what inspired me were my failing grades and a few jaws which dropped after I got into law school.
Other than that? I love public speaking, exercising my brain and experiencing the adrenaline rush that comes over me every time I go to Court.
You focus in all areas of Family law. What motivated you to specialize in this particular area?
The fact that it shows people are not perfect and relationships are not perfect. I like creating an image and a story of my client for the judge and using my brain to make sure that his/her story is heard and accepted. Family lawyers can sometimes help or even save lives – especially the lives of children who need both parents in their lives and are caught up in a fight they had nothing to do with. I try to see the positive in an acrimonious and stressful divorce environment and help my clients enter the next chapter of their lives.
How do you differentiate your law firm from others in the city?
Our creativity and energy. We are truly passionate about what we do and don’t look this as just a job. My job is a part of my life and everyone I help is a part of my life and my well-being. I genuinely care about my clients and am passionate about their case. This is something I observe to be missing in many other family law firms where lawyers are exhausted, files are neglected and there is not much interest in helping the client. Our focus is not money – it is success in every case and ensuring our clients are perfectly heard. We had over a 90% success rate in our court cases in 2014 and hope to keep it that way.
What do you consider the most gratifying part of your job?
That moment when the judge sees me eye to eye, understand where my client is coming from and rules in his/her favour. That is when I am at my happiest.
Your work can often be heavy emotionally and quite stressful. What do you do to de-stress?
I guess as a human being, you cannot fully de-stress or detach yourself enough from the emotions and stress. But you can take measures to deal with them in a healthy manner. I have tried a million things but current what helps me immensely is coming home and cooking. I put on music, have a glass of wine and stir the soup with a smile on my face. The warm air, the smell of fresh veggies and the music in the background are truly healing. They wake my senses and get my brain to calm down and focus on an enjoyable task.
Also, I do a lot of yoga and personal training and continuously see a psychologist to keep my brain in check just like I see doctors to keep my body in check.
In recent studies, it was indicated that female lawyers are on the rise, now becoming the majority of new practicing lawyers (51.2%). How has this changed since you started and how has the female/male dynamic influenced your career?
It hasn’t. Because I am from the newer generation, the male/female ratio or dynamics has not changed me or my work. I assume that in this profession there are more or less equal numbers of males and females. We all have the same rights and privileges and I do not experience any discrimination based on my gender inside or outside of court.
Just like any other young lawyer, I do get some senior lawyers who can be bullies but I wait for my work speak for itself and tune out the noise.
It’s been said that there is your story, my story and the truth. How do you find this balance when serving your clients?
In many cases it is not the matter of who is telling the truth; it is the matter of which perspective is more acceptable. What I experience is my client and his/her spouse telling the same story but putting their own interpretation on it and that is where the disagreement arises. Of course there are clients or opposing parties who lie but lying nowadays is taking a back seat and ‘versions of a story’ are at a forefront. The person who wins is the person whose perspective and judgment is accepted by the judge. If I catch a client lying to me, I immediately terminate the solicitor-client relationship.
Being a lawyer dealing in family law, what do you believe is the most important characteristic of a healthy family environment?
Communication. People feeling lonely in their relationships look for ways to get attention. This makes them lie, cheat or abuse one another. Communication is not just verbal; it is also physical. Doing activities together, or having a block of time set aside to talk about feelings without attacking one another are essential to a healthy relationship.
The definition of “family” has changed over the years. How has this impacted your job?
Long time ago, it was “family first, me second”. Nowadays, it is “me first, family second”. This is why divorce is becoming so common and family lawyers are going to be in this business for a long time. Family lawyers are extremely busy and in high demand nowadays because there is low supply and an increasingly high demand. Our society is becoming less communal and more individual. As long as this trend grows, unfortunately there will be more broken relationships and therefore more family lawyers.