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Community Highlights: Meet Yasmin Herdoiza of Law Office of Yasmin Herdoiza, LLC

Today we’d like to introduce you to Yasmin Herdoiza.

Hi Yasmin, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today.
When I started college at the University of Kansas, I did not want to be a lawyer. I pursued a degree in Psychology and eventually double majored in Spanish. I wanted to be a counselor or do postgraduate research in Psychology. I knew I wanted to use my degrees to help my local community.

In my sophomore year, I started working with children from indigent backgrounds as a direct support professional at a local non-profit in Lawrence, Kansas. All the children I worked with had mental and physical disabilities. I was exposed to the realities they lived in and wanted to pursue a career that would allow me to advocate for them.

Part of my pivot towards law came from my father’s encouragement. My father became a lawyer after reading a book about the American Judicial System and people who were falsely accused & imprisoned and later exonerated by DNA evidence. I asked him how I could use the law to help marginalized communities, and he opened my eyes to the many avenues of law that could help me achieve my goals.

I then did some additional research into how I could advocate for the children I had worked with, thanks to the guidance of other lawyers, professors, and guidance counselors at KU. I decided to pursue law school and use the power of law to help find justice for people in my community.

After an intense application process and sorting through different law schools, I chose to attend the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law (UMKC). I went to law school to become an immigration and family attorney. However, a mentor suggested I intern with either the prosecutor’s or public defender’s office to get trial experience. I was terrified at this suggestion; this would mean I would have to get up in court and go before a Judge! Most attorneys don’t do trial work, which was very intimidating to me at the time.

Luckily, I made the best decision of my life, leading me to be the lawyer I am today. I interned at the Missouri State Public Defenders’ office for two years and eventually became a real public defender for under a year right out of law school. I loved the work. It was challenging but also exciting. On days when I argued and won a motion to help a client, I was smiling on the drive home from the court (true story)!

A few months before I left the public defender’s office, my father and I had a deep conversation. He told me he wanted to retire after years of practice in workers’ compensation and Personal Injury. His practice protects workers and the Hispanic community, often undocumented individuals.

After much consideration, I decided to go private and start my solo practice of criminal defense work and support my dad by taking over his cases and opening up new ones with him. This allowed him to semi-retire but still work when he wanted to and will enable me to continue the family business.

Although we are not a law firm together, we currently share quite a few cases. I am delighted to use my Spanish-speaking abilities again to make people feel more secure and confident when fighting a legal battle.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
As a Solo-Practicing attorney, I’ve had the advantage of having experienced mentors and my father nearby. However, the road has still been tough.

Generally, you don’t learn how to run a business in law school. In my case, I took a specific course on Solo-Practice & Small Firms which gave me a pretty big step up in starting my business, but there is only so much you can learn in one summer course.

The true test has been going through the motions of setting up my business. There were a lot of hiccups that I didn’t expect, random additional expenses, and mess-ups. I’ve learned to forgive myself for mistakes and to learn from them. I’ve also learned to accept not knowing everything. There are a lot of unknowns; sometimes it’s exciting, and other days, it makes me question why I ever went on my own. But I’m thankful I can experience these ups and downs as a business owner; it’s a privilege!

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I practice law primarily in criminal defense and workers’ compensation in Kansas and Missouri. I also do some personal injury, but not much outside workers’ compensation. I am most proud of my bilingualism and using my cultural background to help make my clients feel safe and taken care of. There are plenty of great attorneys out there, but not many speak another language and can connect with their clients on a cultural level. I feel so blessed to give people that extra support as their attorney.

Can you talk to us about how you think about risk?
It’s good to step out of your comfort zone and do something “risky” to make yourself stand out, but it’s also necessary to plan as much as possible to ensure success! I’m not a huge risk taker. I like to plan ahead of time to try to mitigate any failures starting your own business, though it’s hard to catch everything on your own.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Ellie Fehlig – professional headshots

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