Stories and Articles

The Business of Law

Puja Sachdev

Q: Why do many businesses fail, even if they offer an excellent service or product?

A: Among the top ten reasons businesses fail are the lack of business skills and operational inefficiencies.1

This is also true of attorneys who go into business for themselves and set up their own practice, but Puja Sachdev (’09, MSBA) decided to go about this a little differently when she set up her own shop in 2011. “I saw many flaws in how law firms were run,” said Sachdev, a family law attorney. “These firms were operated and managed by attorneys who were not good business people. With my business and marketing background, I had ideas on how I would do things.”

A Matter of Degrees

With a dual degree in marketing and management, Sachdev didn’t plan to be an attorney in her early career, but a desire to work directly with people led her move in San Diego to pursue a law degree. Shortly after graduating law school in 2007, she earned her Master of Science in Business Administration degree (MSBA) in financial and tax planning from San Diego State two years later.

Sachdev’s business degree has not only helped her to run her own practice but has been instrumental in helping her to deal with clients as they work out financial details during a divorce. “When there is a business involved that needs to be divided, the education I received from SDSU in financial and tax planning has proven to be an asset in this field of law,” she pointed out. She is also the first family law attorney in San Diego to earn the designation of Certified Divorce Financial Analyst – a designation usually held only by financial professionals.

"When there is a business involved that needs to be divided, the education I received from SDSU in financial and tax planning has proven to be an asset in this field of law."

The Stress Factor

Of course, this type of legal practice can be extremely stressful. Not only are a family’s financial assets being examined and scrutinized, but emotions run high during this type of legal proceeding. With this in mind, Sachdev set out to create a better working environment than others where she’d worked previously. “Taking care of myself and my team is my first priority,” said Sachdev, who has four employees at her firm. “By making this a priority, my team is able to help our clients who are in very stressful situations and we can act as the voice of reason through all of their emotions.”

While Sachdev has taken steps to make sure that she and her staff are able handle the business and emotional challenges that come their way, she is also familiar with the issues facing women in the legal field. Women are fairly new to the field of law, in that there were less than 4500 females practicing law in 1940 in the U.S.2 Many sources estimate that today, women make up 33 – 40 percent of all practicing attorneys in the U.S. (a total of approximately 1.3 million).

“While there is a great acceptance of women in the legal field, there is still an ‘old boys club’ among the most senior attorneys,” Sachdev pointed out. “But there are many female judges in San Diego now and I’ve never personally experienced any bias from the bench or towards my female clients.”

  1. New York Times, January 5, 2011
  2. Marquette University School of Law, J. Gordon Hylton