Women-Owned Business Series: Dana & Sarah from DiRaimondo & Schroeder LLP

Our next business feature covered DiRaimondo & Schroeder (D&S) LLP, a Brooklyn business immigration law firm. Not only is this team run by women, it also strives to support diversity by bringing top talent from around the world into the United States legally. Read on to hear what this dynamic business woman has to say about female entrepreneurship.

First tell us about your business and anything special we should know about it or you.

DiRaimondo & Schroeder (D&S) is a full-service business immigration law firm specializing in partnering with clients to identify and execute immigration solutions. Because we founded the firm after leaving BigLaw, we’ve worked hard to create an environment where clients can expect exceptional service but with a more boutique feel and personalized approach. We’ve also eliminated a lot of the things we experienced at larger firms that we felt didn’t serve us, the clients, or staff (fixed limits on PTO, placing a premium on “face-time” instead of results, etc.).

Tell us a little about your background and why you feel a connection to your work.

I think I always knew I wanted to become an attorney, but I wasn’t really sure what area of law I wanted to focus on until law school. My first Law Clerk position during law school was at an employment-based immigration law firm and I was immediately fascinated by the work. We live in a global world and helping to facilitate the transfer of top talent into the U.S. was immensely rewarding. The first case I really got to sink my teeth into was for a polymer scientist who was coming to the U.S. to help create equipment that would have a variety of uses, including within the U.S. military. After his case was approved he wrote me a lovely note and it really became clear that working in this field would afford me the opportunity to have a direct and positive impact on individuals, companies, and the U.S. as a whole.

We’d like to know about your experience within your community. What community do you identify as being part of ? Why did you choose the neighborhood your business is located in, if you have a physical location? How have you become involved within your community?

We set up our office in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and while that was a somewhat unusual choice for a law firm, we’ve never regretted it. We didn’t want to be a stuffy “Park Avenue” law firm and while there were a lot of co-working spaces that would allow us to have the “typical” law firm address, we really wanted to buck that trend and Williamsburg seemed like the perfect location. There’s so much going on around our office and so many of our clients (artists, entrepreneurs, and software engineers alike) live in the neighborhood.

What advice would you give to young women who want to start a small business?

Of course, do your homework and be prepared, but go for it! When I was considering leaving a large, established law firm to start my own practice I kept coming up with all these reasons why I should just stay at my current job (my employer-provided health insurance, my 401k plan was tied to my job, etc.) until my brother-in-law said, “There’s nothing an employer can give you that you can’t also set up for yourself.” That turned out to be exactly what I needed to hear to take the leap.

What woman inspires you and why?

Too many to name but I’ll go with the easy answer: my mother. She raised two daughters as a single mom. She worked two and three jobs to ensure we wanted for nothing. We had such a comfortable life —got to go on vacation each year, participated in extracurricular activities, grew up in a lovely home— that it wasn’t until I was older that I realized that she struggled financially and how hard she worked to make ends meet. I truly don’t know how she managed it.

What do you think are the most significant challenges for women business owners or women in leadership positions?

Everyone struggles with work-life balance but I think women in particular fall victim to the myth that it’s possible to do it all (and the expectation that we have to), which leads to burnout at a rate faster than most men experience. I think COVID is shining a spotlight on the issue as you see women juggling things like remote learning for their children while working full-time jobs, but the issue has always existed. The latest Women in the Workplace study by McKinsey & Company had some really jarring stats. Something like one in three women have considered leaving the workforce in 2020 and female representation in C-Suite positions continues to fall significantly behind that of our male counterparts. We’ve still got a long way to go on this front.

How do you motivate yourself and stay motivated?

Knowing that people are counting on me is the greatest motivator. Be it my business partner, my employees, my clients, knowing that there are people who depend on me doing great work keeps me going.

Being a small business owner means relying on your community to support you and getting involved within your community as well. In what ways do you feel supported and actively engage with your neighborhood of residents and other business owners?

Well to start, some of our team members actually live in the neighborhood (in walking distance from the office!) and we have lots of clients who also live nearby so, as a business, we feel very connected to the neighborhood. We’re also in a building that houses a number of other small businesses which has been a great network for us (plus, it’s dog-friendly which makes meeting our neighbors and their pups even more fun). So many of the other local businesses have also become favorites at D&S and we take every opportunity to support them — now more than ever.

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