Women In Charge: Ashlee Froese is Re-Defining What it Means to Be A Successful Lawyer
Ashlee Froese is a larger-than-life lawyer turned entrepreneur, who started her own boutique law firm, Froese Law.
Froese wanted to create an environment that would celebrate professional women and entice them to practice on their own terms. In other words, she’s not your typical lawyer. This outgoing, female powerhouse, has reclaimed her life and designed a career she is proud to lead.
Why did you decide to start Froese Law?
When I started working, I was advised by my mentor, who was also a woman, to cut my hair, dye it brown, and to not wear high heels. There was a very clear picture of what a successful female lawyer looked like. Wearing heels, having long hair and being blonde was frowned upon. The more senior I became, the more I noticed that my look was a lot different from other people in the room. I wanted to change the script on what it means to be a female lawyer in a male-dominated industry.
The Law Society of Upper Canada cites that women comprise 38% of lawyers, and yet 60% of women leave the legal field entirely. Work-life balance is the main reason for this change. How will Froese Law be different for women?
Froese Law, being a branding agency, recognizes and encourages individuals to have a personal brand. I started my own firm to celebrate individuality, and to create a work environment that is more conducive to women staying in law. The fact that you are a lawyer does not mean you have to lose your individuality. I believe it is important to be authentic to who you are. With this in mind, I wanted to build a new generation of lawyers with flexible work arrangements. I want to recognize that there is a life outside of the office; I wanted to re-define success.
How does Froese Law define success?
Traditional law firms equate success with billable hours. The more hours you bill, the more valuable you are perceived to be. This never sat well with me.
Froese Law provides fixed-fee arrangements, an alternative to billable hours. In my experience, this is more conducive to nurturing a strong client relationship. Making a difference by helping clients achieve their dreams is the way we define success at Froese Law, not the number of hours you bill in one day.
The Canadian Bar Association has cited that lawyers need to re-invent themselves in order to remain competitive. Do you think lawyers need to innovate their practice?
Part of my impetus for creating Froese Law was to offer additional consulting services to my clients. Being a lawyer on Bay Street means you’re simply offering legal advice. But law now is experiencing something different. Clients are seeking additional services, such as branding.
On Bay Street my hands were tied. Froese Law allows me to practice on my own terms and provide greater value to my clients. I could not do this in a traditional law firm. My office is now located at WeWork, an innovative, start-up inspired workspace where my clients feel more comfortable. Working in this entrepreneurial work environment creates an energy that supports innovation.