We had the good fortune of connecting with Ellie Javadi and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ellie, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
Work life balance is a tricky term. I think if we get too caught up in trying to achieve equal amounts of anything in each day, we only set ourselves up for disappointment. I choose to view work life balance as a flexible, fluid, and always evolving. There were years in my career where work, friends, and exercise took up most of my time. Once I had children, the balance tipped in another direction and time for work and friends lessened and my focus was on my family. Some people may look at those years in a vacuum and feel like I didn’t have great work life balance but I have a different perspective. I focus on the parts that need my attention and I know that later on at some point-days, weeks or maybe even years later, it will all balance out. Today, my youngest is five and I have more time to focus on my career, exercise, and friends again. Even so, there are days when my work schedule is packed and I may only have 30 minutes of focused energy on my children. It’s easy to let the feelings of guilt and frustration creep in for not spending more quality time with my family. Other days, work is slow and my knee jerk reaction is to worry and wonder if things will pick up again. I’ve made a conscious effort to use these cycles to appreciate the work I generate during busy times while knowing I’ll have time during the down times to socialize. On days when my business is slower, I make an effort to pack up the kids and head to the beach, cook an elaborate dinner or get an extra work out in. Of course, a pandemic has presented us all with challenges and I think its important to remember that nothing will always stay the same and eventually things will swing in a different direction and we can make up for some of the losses while remaining grateful for what was gained.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I am an attorney practicing in the area of third party reproductive technologies. This is a complicated way of saying that I help those who need the assistance of a third party to create their families – be it via sperm donor, egg donor or surrogate. I draft the legal agreements between the parties and make sure everyone understands their rights, responsibilities, and obligations. Because my clients are often focused on achieving their goal of becoming parents, and not thinking too far into future, I also remind them that ultimately the parties involved should keep the best interests of their future off-spring in mind. Did I mention that most of the time my work with clients ends with receiving baby photos in my email inbox? It’s the absolute highlight of my day.
I entered this field after 5 years of being a litigation attorney where I was feeling overworked and uninterested. At the time, my husband (now ex-husband) and I began trying to start a family and… well it just wasn’t happening. After years of fertility treatment, I felt isolated and alone and so I looked for support groups. I am an only child and had always dreamt of having a large family so not being able to have children was extremely difficult for me. I became close to a great group of women who were all in different stages of their fertility journey. A few of them were considering using an egg donor and surrogate and mentioned to me that they needed an attorney. While I didn’t think it was appropriate to assist them (because I had zero experience) it definitely sparked my interest, which is something that I had lost in my life as a litigation lawyer. I eventually left my firm job and decided to set up my own business in the area. I was very naive and thought the work would just fall into place. I quickly realized that being an attorney on my own not only required actual legal work, but turned me into an entrepreneur running an independent business! It was not easy or an overnight success. I continued building relationships, attending conferences, and also taking on side jobs to pay the bills.
While attempting to build a business in the economic recession of 2009 (and 4 IVFs and losses later) I finally became pregnant with my last frozen embryo. I was both overjoyed and terrified while pregnant. It’s one of those things only fertility patients can understand. You feel a combination of excitement, extreme fear that something may go wrong, and guilt for not being able to relax. In 2010 I gave birth to not only my first child, but my new business, however, I also became a single mother. I juggled caring for my daughter and building my new business at the same time. To say it was challenging is an understatement but I look back on those days with such fondness and love in my heart. I think it comes down to having grit and a strong belief that everything always works out. I bring this experience with me when I assist my clients today. I am in a unique position of knowing exactly what it’s like to go through fertility treatments physically as well as the emotional roller coaster that is trying to conceive. Because my daughter was born early and spent time in the NICU, I also understand the medical concerns and possible complications involved with pregnancy. I bring these experiences with me when consulting with potential parents or surrogates. Having compassion and a collaborative attitude is my super power and I strive to pass this along to my clients.
Today I feel like my family life is where I always wanted it to be. I have four children with my second husband. We are a modern, blended family. As for my business, it’s kind of like my family. I love it. There are always changes afoot. Sometimes it’s fun and easy, other times it can be scary or challenging, but they always rise to the challenge and things always work out the way they should.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I love the outdoors, so when I have friends in from out of town, most of my recommendations are centered around outside activities. Fortunately, by many standards, our winters are warm so most of these are year-round suggestions. One of my favorite places to spend an afternoon is the Getty Center. You can spend an entire day exploring the grounds and sculpture gardens and forget they have a world class art collection indoors. I also love spending my weekends on the beach. There are so many in Southern California, you can spend an entire week visiting local beaches and the businesses around them. From casual spots in Santa Monica like Joe’s Pizza, Bay Cities (and Jenny’s Ice Cream) to my favorite brunch spot, The Farm on Malibu Pier. Of course, if you’re up for a multi-meal beach trip, sushi at Nobu is always delicious and the views make the wait go a little faster. Living on the west side, I’m also really enjoying the renaissance that Culver City is experiencing right now. From summertime art-walks to the bustling downtown scene that’s filled with just about any cuisine you could dream of, all of which exude a “walk-in” friendliness.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I started out practicing in a completely different area of law in a firm setting. I took a huge risk and started my own practice in a highly specialized area of law focused on family building. This was only possible because certain attorneys already established in the field, including Steve Lazarus and Myers & O’Hara, mentored me and gave me my first cases and to them I am forever grateful. I am now in a group text with other female attorneys in the same exact field and we call ourselves “FBLs” or “Fabulous Boss Ladies” and we support each other daily. I could give more details but it would break the first rule of Fight Club. My best friends that graduated with me from UCLA Law and I have another group text and although we don’t see each other more than 4-5 times a year, we communicate daily and cheer each other on. And of course my husband has supported my business and career decisions from day one.