The legal field is a complex and constantly evolving arena and as such, it is prone to a variety of issues. Addressing these problems will require a concerted effort from legal professionals, policymakers and society as a whole to ensure that the system is fair, just and accessible.
Just as how Suzi Hixon founded the impressive Legally Blissed, which creates content and resources for women in the legal profession. She is devoted to helping women become their own advocates and works as a business consultant attorney coach. Her entrepreneurial spirit and indestructible work ethic have spawned a whirlwind of trademark creativity over the years.
Suzi is a trademark attorney with nearly 20 years of legal experience. She has managed the trademark portfolios of Fortune 100 companies as well as E-commerce startups. Within the United States Patent and Trademark Office in 2021, she is ranked on a national level as a trademark. She began her dynamic career after earning her law degree from the University of Kentucky College of Law in 2003.
𝐒𝐨, 𝐰𝐡𝐲 𝐬𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐛𝐞 𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐢𝐧?
You can catch Rob and Suzi talking about:
- Suzi’s background and how she began her dynamic career
- Her day-to-day work as a trademark attorney and her responsibilities
- Her experience handling trademark portfolios of Fortune 100 companies
- Her advocacy for female attorneys and mental health
- Her advice for setting healthy boundaries
- How women can set goals and expectations
- … And lastly, she shares 3 tips for female attorneys looking to focus on mental health.
Here are 3 reasons why you should listen to the full episode:
- Hear about how to look after your mental health as a legal professional.
- Get advice on setting healthy boundaries.
- Learn about trademarks and patents.
- Legally Blissed
- Gain exclusive benefits and bonus content by signing up on Legally Speaking Podcast’s Patreon page!
Suzi’s background and career journey:
- Suzi is from a small town in Kentucky and was born in Colorado.
- She went to a small liberal arts college and has a science degree, majoring in biology.
- Originally, Suzi thought she would go to law school or medical school, but after not making grades conducive to getting into medical school, she decided to go to law school.
- She wasn’t sure what area of law to go into but ended up in patent law.
- Suzi took the patent bar before graduating and ultimately became a patent lawyer for a few years after law school.
Suzi’s advice for those thinking about going to law school:
- Suzi’s primary advice for people considering law school is to go to a school in the state where they ultimately want to practice.
- Suzi went to law school not knowing what direction she wanted to take her legal career and cautions against going to law school for that reason.
- Suzi suggests people who have a passion and specific goals for their legal career may be more successful.
- Suzi suggests people considering law school should take a break or “skip year” after undergrad to hit the reset button before starting law school.
- She believes it helped those who took a break to appreciate law school more.
How Suzi came to specialise in IP and trademarks:
- Suzi started her legal career as a patent agent and then a patent lawyer.
- She worked on patent applications for lighting fixtures and bottle caps but found the work to be boring and not a good match for her personality.
- Suzi quickly transitioned to trademark law, which she found to be a better match for her interests.
- She found trademark law to be creative and it allowed her to use the other side of her brain.
- She was able to work with people in marketing departments and educate them.
- She was quickly able to manage trademark portfolios for larger companies and had a great mentor who taught her a lot about trademark law.
- Suzi realised nothing she learnt in law school applied to her daily work in trademark law.
- She felt like her education in law school was not necessary for her career path.
Responsibilities of a trademark attorney:
- Suzi spent the first 8 years of her legal career working in a large law firm, where she was given responsibility for trademark clearance, prosecution and some enforcement work.
- She was able to work directly with clients early on in her career, which she found beneficial.
- Suzi was able to distil complex legal issues into more easily understandable terms for clients, which helped her be successful in her work.
- When Suzi started her practice, her responsibilities became more varied – including business development, administrative tasks and legal work.
- She found it challenging to separate these different responsibilities in her mind as a solo attorney.
Business development and clients:
- Suzi’s business development tip is to speak the language of the prospective client rather than using legal jargon, as it is more likely to gain their trust and make them feel comfortable working with you.
- Suzi suggests when doing business development activities, such as writing copy or doing a podcast, it is important to meet the emotional needs of the prospective client.
- It is significant to use the language the clients would, rather than fancy legal words.
- Suzi also points out the prospective client does not care about case law – it’s important to focus on what they do care about, which is meeting their needs and building a relationship with them.
- Suzi’s biggest client between 2005 and 2010 was a large health insurance company called Humana.
- Suzi managed the company’s trademark portfolio for several years.
- She found them to be an interesting client because they were a service-based company with a very robust trademark portfolio.
- Suzi worked closely with Humana’s internal marketing department.
- She taught them about what they needed as lawyers to help them get their marks registered.
- Suzi later created a course to help people find the nexus of a strong trademark from both a marketing and legal perspective – because sometimes the 2 are at odds.
- Suzi found by teaching the client how to pick strong trademarks, it made her job easier.
- Suzi found Humana a fun client to work with.
Suzi’s work with e-commerce start-ups:
- Suzi decided to go solo in 2010 because big law and a corner office weren’t appealing to her.
- She wanted autonomy.
- Suzi struggled at first but found success in e-commerce after Amazon started allowing third-party sellers.
- She became known as the “private label lawyer” by helping companies primarily purchasing from China, branding and reselling on Amazon.
- She built trust by speaking the client’s language and understanding their specific problems with Amazon.
- Suzi helped with trademark registration, creation, enforcement and counterfeit removal on Amazon.
- Suzi started the Legally Blissed podcast as a way to provide a platform for female lawyers to share their inspiring stories.
- The podcast is a spin-off of the movie Legally Blonde.
- The name Legally Blissed is an oxymoron play on the movie’s title.
- The goal of the podcast is to help female lawyers become better self-advocates and to provide a community for them.
- The podcast is also a way to produce content that can be repurposed and give social credibility.
Suzi and mental health awareness:
- Suzi has learned the importance of seeking help for mental health issues.
- She wants to be more open about her own struggles to help others.
- Suzi feels that there is still a stigma around mental health issues.
- She wants to help break that stigma by encouraging others to seek help.
- Suzi believes the root cause of mental health issues among lawyers, especially women, is the pressure to be perfect and to work long hours.
- She wants to explore ways to help the younger generation of attorneys and simplify the practice of law to improve mental health.
Mental health, burnout and stress:
- One of the hard problems Suzi is working on is understanding the root cause of mental health challenges for lawyers, particularly women.
- Some possible contributing factors include seeking perfection, a lack of balance in life, as well as pressure from clients, partners, and colleagues to work long hours.
- Suzi is also thinking about how to better mentor younger lawyers and make the practice of law less complex.
Suzi’s advice for setting boundaries:
- Setting boundaries is important for maintaining mental health but can be difficult in a big law firm setting.
- Start by setting 1 boundary and enforcing it.
- This will give you the confidence to set more.
- A subset of boundary setting is learning to say no with kindness and compassion.
- Saying no with grace is important – it can help to prioritise time and energy.
- As you progress in your career, you may reach a point where “no” is your default answer unless it’s a “hell yes”.
Suzi’s insights on setting goals and expectations, whilst being realistic:
- Suzi believes it is important for women to ask for what they want.
- Having the support of other women is vital in this type of work.
- Suzi suggests before setting goals, it is important to make sure the goals align with one’s true values.
- Suzi realised she had set goals based on what she thought would make her family happy and what society said she should do rather than her own values.
- Suzi encourages others to figure out their values before defining goals.
- Suzi emphasises the importance of making decisions on a daily basis – ensuring they align with your values.
Suzi’s advice on personal branding:
- Dress for the role you want to be in.
- It’s better to be overdressed than underdressed.
- How you dress has an impact on how you show up.
- People do care about what your Zoom room looks like.
- Christine Vartanian is a consultant helping individuals up-level their wardrobe and personal branding.
Suzi’s top tips for looking after your mental health:
- Work on becoming the observer of your own thinking by journaling and identifying thoughts versus facts.
- Plan personal time before planning everything else to prioritise self-care.
- Get some sunshine.
- Spend time outside to improve your mental health.
5 powerful quotes from this episode:
- “It’s really important for women to ask for what they want”.
- “…really work on becoming the observer of your own thinking. And 1 of the best ways really I think to do that is by journaling…”.
- “Plan your personal time, before you plan everything else”.
- “…outside time, time away from your computer is so, so important for mental health”.
- “…I want to create this community for female attorneys to help them become better self-advocates, in whatever way that looks to them”.
Enjoy the podcast?
Learning more about the exciting world of legal has never been this easy. If you enjoyed today’s episode of the Legally Speaking Podcast, hit subscribe and share it with your friends!
Post a review and share it! If you enjoyed tuning into this podcast, then do not hesitate to write a review. You can also share this with your family and friends so they too can learn from one of the top business podcasts.
Sponsored by Clio: Clio is a legal case management software that work in partnership with the Law Society of England and Wales and is an approved supplier of the Law Society of Scotland.
Finally, support us with BuyMeACoffee: https://www.buymeacoffee.com/kcpartners.
To learning more about the exciting world of law, Robert Hanna and the Legally Speaking Podcast Team.
00:01 Rob Hanna:
Welcome to the Legally Speaking Podcast. You are now listening to Season 6 of the show. I’m your host Rob Hanna. This week I’m delighted to be joined by the wonderful Suzi Hixon. Suzi is a trademark attorney, with nearly 20 years of experience in the legal profession. She has experience handling trademark portfolios of Fortune 100 companies and eCommerce start-ups. Suzi is nationally-ranked as a trademark attorney and well registered painting attorney within the US United States Patent and Trademark Office. In 2021, Suzi founded the highly impressive Legally Blissed, creating content and resources for female professionals in the legal community. She is also a business consultant, attorney coach, and passionate about supporting women becoming self-advocates. If that’s not all enough, Suzi explores the causes and effects of all-too-common issues in the legal field, especially for women. So a very, very warm welcome, Suzi.
00:57 Suzi Hixon:
Thank you so much for the kind introduction. I’m happy to be here.
01:01 Rob Hanna:
Ah it’s our absolute pleasure. And before we dive into all your amazing projects, experiences and achievements to date, we do have a customary icebreaker question here on the Legally Speaking Podcast which is, on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being very real, what would you rate the hit TV series Suits, if you’ve seen it, in terms of its reality?
01:23 Suzi Hixon:
Oh Rob, I feel terrible. I’ve not, I’ve not seen Suits, but I’m gonna, I’m a binge watcher when it comes to series. So after this call, I’m going to Amazon and I’m going to, I guess they probably have it out now, hopefully they have like the first season out and I’m going to put it in my shopping cart and get it to my house so I can start binge watching it, at least season 1.
01:48 Rob Hanna:
I’m loving that commitment. So we’ll put TBC as a score for now. And then at a later date, we’ll plug it in. But let’s move swiftly on to talk all about you. So would you mind Suzi, starting at the beginning, tell us a bit about your background and journey.
02:05 Suzi Hixon:
Yeah, so I’m from a small town in Kentucky. I was actually born in Colorado. I went to a small liberal arts college and had a science degree. I was a biology major. Very much thought I would go to law school or to med school, and never envisioned that I would end up in law school. But after having seen a few surgeries and maybe not making the grades that would really be, I guess be conducive to getting into to med school I was like, okay, what can I do to extend this college thing out a few more years, because I’m getting out of you know, undergrad, I’m not really sure what to do yet. So took the LSAT, did fine on it, applied to law school and ended up there. I am a little bit envious of people who kind of have these law-like lofty aspirations of why they went to law school, but you know, quite honestly, I went because I really wasn’t sure, still what I wanted to do with with my career. So I went to law school. And at that point, I really wasn’t sure what area of law I wanted to go into either. And so instead well because you were a biology major, you know, you have your science background, you should look into going to patent law, taking the patent bar. And I took the patent bar before I graduated from law school, and I passed it. And so when I came out of law school, I was actually a patent agent for about a year and then ultimately passed the regular bar and was a patent lawyer for a couple of years, right out of law school. Wow, that was like about 25 years condensed in a couple of minutes. So.
03:57 Rob Hanna:
I’m loving how succinct you are because there’s a lot we’re gonna unpack there. And let’s go back to, let’s go back in terms of because you you mentioned sort of where you, where you grew up, because you went to the University of Kentucky, the College of Law there, how did you, how did you find your experiences there? You touched on perhaps where your interest in the law stemmed from, but how were your experiences at that time? And any top tips for people thinking about law schools or you know what, to what advice you would give them?
04:24 Suzi Hixon:
So my primary piece of advice would be to go to law school in the state where you think that you ultimately want to practice. So if you think that you want to live in New York City and practice big law there I would recommend maybe going to a law school there. Kentucky University of Kentucky was a, it’s a fine law school. I don’t think it’s a top 50 law school anymore. But the other little caveat to all this is you know, like I said, I went to law school not really knowing where my direction was as a lawyer. I was a little bit up in the air. And I caution people against that, going to law school for that reason. I feel like the people that were in law school who kind of had that, more of a passion and drive and kind of had specific goals with respect to where they wanted to, or what they wanted to do with a legal career may have been more successful. So, another thing, another little tip for people thinking about law school would be, I really recommend taking a, like a sabbatical or kind of a, like a skip year after undergrad and law school. I know it’s probably a little bit different internationally. But I felt like I needed to hit my reset button after, after college and I didn’t really get the chance to do that. I went straight on into law school right, so I think that having, if I would have hit the reset button, I may have appreciated being in law school more, and it seems like people that went back to law school, you know, after a year off or even later seem to do really well.
06:09 Rob Hanna:
I think that’s really good advice that you’re sharing there because you know, the Legally Speaking Podcast we say yeah to self-care, I think it’s so important, you talked about sort of taking that time off. The law will always be there, you know, you’ve done the hard time, you know make sure that you give yourself that bit of space so you can be really energised and really start something and go with gusto. So I think that’s a really good piece of advice. And thank you for sharing that. I think it’s also important to note, you know, particularly where you want to practice the law and taking that in consideration when you’re thinking about those educational choices. So swiftly moving forwards then, you were very successful during obviously law school, you then went on to be a top IP attorney, and you touched on it about sort of, you know how you got into that, but how did you really come to truly specialise to be where you are today in terms of all things IP and trademarks?
06:56 Suzi Hixon:
Okay, so yeah, so I started off in, right out of law school, as you know, a patent agent, and then a patent lawyer. So it was basically prosecuting patent applications. And I was specialising in not anything really science related, but it was pretty boring. It was, I was working on lighting fixtures, and you know, like on a medicine bottle, there’ll be a cap that has the little threads in it that makes it more difficult for a child to open it. And then there’s caps that are easier for elderly people to open it. There’s like a lot of, there’s a lot of technicalities in that. And I was actually working on patent applications, having to do with like, the ridges on those types of caps and bottle, you know, functionality. And it was really like, you’re probably bored, everyone’s probably bored just listening to me talking about it so could you imagine just like doing it every single day. And I really quickly realised that patent law was not my thing. I was like, you know what, this is not really a match for me because, I just couldn’t sit down and draft a patent application, like the same 1 for weeks at a time, was like oh my gosh, is this, is this my life. So I fairly quickly started doing trademark work. And it was a much better match for kind of like my personality and interest. And even though, like I’m a scientist and I love science, like it kind of allowed me to use that other side of my brain and a lot of ways because there’s so much creativity. I was able to work with people in marketing departments, and, you know provide education to them. I had several clients, I was working in big law at that point and so I had several clients that were larger companies that I very quickly started managing their trademark portfolio. And I had a great mentor at that point who taught me a lot about trademark law. And, you know, I, this was 1 of those situations where there was nothing that I learned in law school that was actually applicable to what I was doing on a daily basis. And I was like, oh my gosh, I cannot believe I went to law school, like, you know, 4 years of undergrad for actively to be a biology major, and then 3 years to law school and here I am doing something, I’m doing trademark law right, which is totally different. But I guess it all kind of, you know, I enjoyed the work. So I guess it worked out, right.
09:32 Rob Hanna:
It all works out. And I think you know, at the end of the day, it’s still building blocks for your career and as experiences and I’m sure there’s some transferability of everything that you’ve sort of encompassed there. But let’s dive into that then a little bit more because you said maybe not directly linked to what you studied in law school. So let’s talk us through a day in the life of you know, you as a trademark attorney, what would be some of your responsibilities? Talk us through that, so give people a bit more of an idea of what you got up to?
09:57 Suzi Hixon:
Yeah, so the first 8 years out of law school I was working in a large law firm. And fortunately I was given quite a bit of responsibility for trademark clearance and prosecution. Didn’t do a lot of litigation at that point, I was doing a little bit of enforcement. I very quickly was given the ability to work directly with clients. So, I guess I was fortunate, I know, you know, I had some colleagues that worked at some other firms, and they were doing document review for years. And I kind of like, like, part of me was like, how can they like, they’re making crazy amounts of money, and they’re not really learning anything. It was just very bizarre to me. So, there was a lot of benefit I guess in my particular situation that I was able to have that client contact at such a, like, quick stage of my career. And, when I look back on it, I realised, wow, they must have had a lot of confidence in my ability to, you know, to help the clients, but also, I think, have always been pretty good about being able to take complex legal issues and distill them into more easily digestible bits for people, and I think that’s because I had to do that for myself. It’s like, how can we take this complex, you know, situation and explain it like I’m 5. So, you know, clients enjoyed working with me. But when I started my own practice, like my days became very different, right? I started to, you know, I had to wear the, not just lawyer hat, but I was wearing the business development hat, I was willing, wearing the administrative hat. So you know my day to day functionality was was very different. I remember, like writing down, when I first started my own practice I had, I would jot down like, you know, 8 to 10, BD business development, 10 to 12, legal, legal, like I, that’s when I had to pick up work, you know, legal work, you know, 12 to 1 billing, you know, administrative stuff. And it’s just funny looking back on how I really had to work so hard to separate those out in my head as a solo attorney.
12:27 Rob Hanna:
I love so many pieces of wisdom you’re sharing throughout this conversation, because 1 thing that I took away from this as this is someone who’s been the receiver of legal services, being an entrepreneur, business owner and dealing with lawyers. Someone who makes the complicated uncomplicated to me to understand that shows to me that you’re clearly an expert, you understand the law and articulate. And that’s clearly how you built such trust and become such a force of nature within your area of the law. And it’s really sage advice for anyone who’s going through their career or currently in their career, how can you get more buy in from clients. Your clients don’t know the law, they don’t even have a clue about the law most of them. So some of this stuff is super complicated. You’ve instructed lawyers for a reason but the lawyers that can put that into real layman terms, drop the legalese, they’re the ones I would encourage you to definitely do business with because it makes you feel more comfortable to know what you’re signing or what you’re getting involved in. So I love that you shared that, it’s such a great point. And you know, you’ve had experience handling some awesome trademark portfolios for Fortune 100 companies. So would you mind sharing a little bit more about some of those cases you’ve worked on? Or maybe some, 1 of your most popular or something that’s in the public domain that most sticks out to you, maybe a favourite case?
13:36 Suzi Hixon:
Sure I would love to do that. But can I give people 1 little business development tip as long, like if they have their lawyer hat on and they’re wanting to do business development. I just want to go back to 1 thing that you said a minute ago. Yeah, I think it’s really important. We love, like as lawyers, like we sort of have this thing where we love to speak legalese, right, because it sounds like you know, we paid a lot of money to be able to do this. Right, we invested a lot of time. Your, your prospective client does not care, right. They speak the language that prospective client speaks, that is so, I think key and being able to kind of garner their trust. They don’t care if you know, the, the fancy legal words, like your colleagues might have fun with it, but when you’re writing copy or you’re doing your podcast or whatever, speak, speak their language, right, like meet their emotional needs using the language that they would use and not, not fancy legalese and just keep in mind that they don’t give a crap about case law at the end of the day so. So, I just had to go, I just had to go into that because I was actually having a conversation recently with someone about that very thing and it just were, we were talking about the importance of, you know, speaking the client’s language and making them feel comfortable working with you.
14:52 Rob Hanna:
It’s so true because you have to meet people where they’re at right and I think that’s a great example of how you can do that and you will build that long term trust, because if you’re completely talking to people, and they don’t understand you, it’s very difficult because there’s always that element of uncertainty or self-doubt. So, I love that you’re, you’re talking about that. And yeah, I guess from from that great tip, which is super important because we all need BD as well folks so. Time for a short break from the show. Are you looking for a way to get your firm working more efficiently and profitably, while ensuring a better work life balance for your team? Well, if you haven’t considered our sponsor Clio, I’m here to strongly recommend that you do. I absolutely love working with Clio. Not only is it the world’s leading legal practice management and legal client relationship management software, it also has a really solid core mission, to transform the legal experience for all. Something I personally support. What sets Clio apart for me, it’s their dedication to customer success and support. There are lots of legal software’s out there, but I know from talking to Clio users that their support offering is miles ahead of the rest with their 24-5 availability by email, in app chat and over the phone. Yes, you can actually call in and speak to someone. Clio is also the G2 Crowd leader in legal practice management in comparison to 130 legal practice management software’s and has been for the last 14 consecutive quarters. G2 Crowd is the world’s leading business solutions review website. You can check Clio’s full list of features and pricing at www dot Clio dot com forward slash Legally dash Speaking. That’s www dot C L I O dot forward slash Legally dash Speaking. Now back to the show. Listen out, talk us through some of the highlights when it comes some of these cases, some of these huge things that you’ve worked on.
15:21 Suzi Hixon:
So 1 of my biggest clients, this was between about 2005 2010 was a company called Humana. And I don’t know if you’ve heard of it, but their large health insurance company, and they are based in Louisville, Kentucky, and I basically managed their portfolio, their trademark portfolio for several years. And they were an interesting client because, you know, we look at large trademark portfolios of as primarily coming from consumer products, but they were actually services company, but they were doing, they were very innovative, when it came to providing different types of services to their customers in an effort to lower healthcare costs. So oddly enough that was a company, a service-based company that had a very robust trademark portfolio. They were a lot of fun to work with, because they had a large internal marketing department. And 1 thing I remember that was really kind of funny about them was, they would come to me with like these great ideas, like what they thought were great trademarks, right. And I would look at them and I’d be like oh no, you know, I have put to my lawyer hat on and, and there was always like any number of reasons I’m like, this is not gonna be able to get registered, maybe there was a likelihood confusion, you know, we did you know, searches, or maybe it’s too descriptive. And I got to the point where I was like, I need to come in and talk to you guys. So I would go in regularly and have conversations with them, like with their marketing department, teaching them about what we need as lawyers to help them get their marks registered. You know, that content that I produced at that point, let you know, was was kind of revived years later when I was solo. And I actually started a course to help people who are creating trademarks find that nexus of a really strong trademark from both a marketing perspective and a legal perspective, because marketing and legal are sometimes at odds, when it comes to a strong trademark, they there’s not always a lot of overlap there, right. So what a marketer might think would be a great trademark, something that like really describes the product or service, the lawyer is going to be like no, we can never get that registered for you because it describes a product or service, right. So that’s kind of the always, like, kind of look back at how I took that information, you know, and, and where I saw a gap way back then and actually use it later on with with clients to help them pick strong trademarks, you know, finding that nexus of marks that are strong, both legally and mark, from a marketing perspective. The problem is so many lawyers tend to only wear their lawyer hat, right. They don’t necessarily think, okay, how can I help these people? Like how can I really kind of throw them a line here and pull them up and make it easier for, for me at the end of the day, because I was, I was realising at that point Rob that, in some ways, I knew that if I went in and talked to them and taught them, that they would make my job easier, right. So it was like a little bit selfish because I wanted to make their job easier, but also wanted to make my job easier too, because I wanted them to come to me with, with marks that were already had met a certain threshold in terms of strength before I even picked it up. And it, it really worked. So that was 1 of the more, you know, fun clients that I worked with. And I know a lot people like you worked with a health care company or you know, health insurance company and it was actually fun, but they were, they were, they were a lot of fun and that was a client that my mentors at that point gave me a lot of ability to work directly with. So it was fun.
19:17 Rob Hanna:
That’s good. I’m going to talk more about fun in a moment. And it’s great. Also, you’re touching about mentors. I talk about this a lot. I’m very passionate about people having mentors and they can really help fast track your career, navigate problems, what might be a huge issue in your head can be completely dismantled in seconds by a top mentor and having those in your community is super important. So obviously from the Fortune 100 huge clients, big clients as well. You’ve also collaborated with some super cool e-commerce start-ups. We live in this online digital world electronic world. Can you tell us about some of your work with, with some of those?
19:48 Suzi Hixon:
Yeah, sure. So I went solo Rob in 2010. It was, the, I just knew that big law and in the corner office wasn’t my thing. I was not attracted to that lifestyle, I needed some autonomy. I wanted to do what, I wanted to do something in terms of business development or marketing. I didn’t want to have to go through like layers of, you know, 3 people above me or talk to you to committee, committee, committees, I just wanted to do it, right. I just wanted to implement the thing. And so I, you know, people were like, you are an absolutely insane to do this, how can you afford to go solo, and I’m like, well I’ve got a laptop, and, you know, a phone so I’m pretty sure I can, and internet connection, so I’m pretty sure I can go, I can do this. So I like to consider myself fairly forward thinking, you know, for 2010 to, to have done that. But I, I struggled at first, you know, I struggled for years. And, you know, had 1 off clients, I would get most of my clients and referrals. But it wasn’t until Amazon really, Amazon, the e-commerce platform started rolling out the ability for third parties to sell on their platform. And I was like, wait a second. I was looking on Amazon, of course, I was, you know, a sucker to purchasing on Amazon and probably have been for years and years. And I every year, I’m like, I’m gonna not renew my prime membership and I always do. But I just, I was seeing these third-party sellers, I was like, okay, these people need help with their branding. They are picking crappy trademarks, they are having a hard time with counterfeits on Amazon. So I, and this goes back, this is actually kind of comes full circle because this kind of goes back to what I was saying just a few minutes ago about how important it is to speak your clients language or your prospective clients language. So I really dug into e-commerce and really found a way that I could help these people who were selling on Amazon, and or even on their own Shopify sites. So I started doing that probably 2014, 2015. And that’s when my practice really exploded. In, you know, in terms of a client base and getting clients from a lot of different sources from doing podcasts, from doing presentations and seminars, you know, going to play it. Back in the olden days, we actually travelled places. It’s crazy. But yeah, so I started, you know, getting a lot of clients that way, I kind of became known as the private label lawyer because I was helping companies out were primarily purchasing products from China and branding them and reselling them on Amazon. So again, part of the reason I think I built up so much trust in that area was because I was speaking their language. I knew their problem, I knew their specific problems that they were facing every single day dealing with Amazon and and counterfeits and, and you know, in addition to helping them get their marks registered, I helped some clients create trademarks. I helped them enforce them. I helped them with counterfeit removals on Amazon because it was completely out of control. And still is to some extent. So that, that’s, that’s kind of where I got that ability to,, to work with a lot of e-commerce companies.
23:27 Rob Hanna:
Love it. And you rightly said that’s when you’re sort of practice exploded. And then you touched on sort of podcasts and that leads nicely on to 2021, where you found it Legally Blissed, where you’re creating content resources for female professionals in the legal community. So would you mind telling us more about your motivations behind Legally Blissed and what does Legally Blissed truly encompass?
23:52 Suzi Hixon:
So people might giggle when they hear Legally Blissed, because you’re like, that is an oxymoron. Right? And it’s funny, because there have been times over the last couple of years where, I look at my brand and I’m like, I’m not feeling very blessed right now. Like, you know, am I you know, am I an imposter, you know, the old imposter syndrome starts coming up, like, well, you know, but it is kind of a play off of Legally Blonde, right, which was the, you know, the funniest movie, wouldn’t that come out like in 2003 I think? But ummm that’s actually why I went to law school because I wanted you know, to be Elle Woods, truthfully, I’m kidding. Yeah, the truth finally comes out, right? But no I started Legally Blissed because I wanted to provide a platform and to help women who want to share their inspiring stories. And really, honestly, I, ultimately was like okay I want to build this community for female lawyers who want to be better self-advocates, kind of in what, in whatever way that looks to them, because I realised, especially in 2020, when so many female lawyers kind of were the ones staying at home with their children, and I feel like women in general got hit pretty hard by the pandemic, when it comes to maybe putting their careers on the back burner. Maybe, you know, kind of being the ones that were at home or with the children. I was like, you know, what I want to create this community for female attorneys to help them become better self-advocates, in whatever way that looks to them. Although I do have content in my community that helps with that. But I started the podcast for a few reasons Rob, what is I had already had a podcast called Trademarks Made Easy. And it was fun. And because podcasting is fun, right? It’s, it, it gives you a lot of social credibility. It’s a great way to produce content that you can repurpose in a lot of different ways. And also, I really wanted to give a platform to other female lawyers to share their stories, right, their ups and their downs and their wins and how they overcame their biggest obstacles. They’re gems of wisdom, because there’s always gems of wisdom in there, even for the women that I’ve interviewed that are out of law school for a couple of years, there’s still wisdom in there. And it’s kind of fun to pull that out. And it’s amazing to, to tell their stories. So really, that’s, that’s the, you know, the thought behind Legally Blissed podcast is giving female lawyers that ability to share their inspiring stories and the audience to, to learn from the women that have gone before them.
26:50 Rob Hanna:
And I love that, and I love absolutely everything that it, that it stands for, and you do an absolutely fantastic job of Legally Blissed that has to be said, and I want to stick with this because it’s important because you are an advocate, as you mentioned, for female attorneys and mental health. And when you, when did you decide to focus particularly on, on the mental health side?
27:11 Suzi Hixon:
I’m really glad you asked this question and it’s funny, because it’s not an issue that I’m super, I super proactively kind of talk about until someone kind of starts pulling it and pulling it out of me a little bit more. And I’m more, and I’m becoming more open to talking about it in my own mental health struggles. I have been diagnosed with clinical depression. And I definitely think that it had, you know, a negative impact on my practice over the years. I definitely put it on a, on the back burner, I did what I needed to do to try to be stable. And that was you know, having a therapist and a psychiatrist. And it always helped, right always helped. But there are periods in my life where I was like, oh I don’t need this, this is not really a thing. I didn’t want to talk about it with people. I kind of hid it. And sometimes it came with some pretty negative repercussions. And I went through in 2020 a pretty terrible mental health episode. And, you know, I realised, why am I so resistant to seeking help, right. And I remember having talked to someone back you know years ago about their mental health. And it was like, okay, you need to go talk to someone you need to, you know, there’s medication, and I was like, I am judging myself so harshly and I treat myself, like why am I not treating myself like my best, like I would my best friend, right? And it was very bizarre because, I don’t know, there’s still, there’s still this stigma within myself about it. And I was like you know what the only way that I can help other people truthfully is becoming more open. And just taking that deep breath and talking about it, about my own struggles with it, and trying not to judge myself so much for it. We go and we get help if we have diabetes or we have some other physical ailment. But it’s fascinating that we still try so hard to hide our mental health struggles. And we make it like being something so negative about us when at the end of the day, it’s, it’s a chemical imbalance, right? So um, you know, it’s interesting because I look back and I’m like, I never really had a traumatic experience and like, yeah you know I might have been bullied a couple of times, you know, in middle school, but like who didn’t have something crazy happen in middle school, you know, like it. I remember talking with, with my mom, you know who I felt like my parents, you know, years ago were very very resistant to being open and talking about it. Oh you have a great life, like you have, you know, you have a great career, you live in a beautiful apartment. Like, what, you know what’s wrong with you? There’s nothing wrong with you. You know, and I think that, that type of response is, people are getting better about that but that type of response doesn’t help initiate people seeking help, because it makes you second guess yourself like, well yeah like they’re right, I need to be grateful. I need to be grateful for everything I have. But you know at the end of the day, it doesn’t, it doesn’t take away that feeling of those dark clouds or urges to step in front of a bus or whatever your, you know, whatever it is that you’re dealing with from a mental health perspective. So, you know, my goal really is to get more open and talking about it. And in the primary reason Rob is I don’t want other people to suffer like I, because they don’t have to, they don’t have to, there are, there’s so much help out there for people that have clinical depression and we need to seek it not just for ourselves, but for the people that love us and that we love.
31:27 Rob Hanna:
So many great and important points that you share there and people on the show no mental health is something that’s important to me, and you know, due to sort of family circumstances and many other things, and I’m appreciative of you being so authentic because people are craving authenticity from people and to start sharing and you can’t help people, you can’t pour from an empty cup. And, you know again coming back to your tip, you know, not crushing the taboo. You know, we talk a lot about physical gyms and physical health and physical gyms on the high street, why can’t we have mental health gyms on the high street and be normal? You know, it’s, it’s, it’s just make it very simplified. And it’s not this big taboo. And it’s, you know, the top 2 inches are the most, you know, really important in terms of making sure that we’re, we’re feeling good. So I really appreciate you sharing that and your own sort of personal stories and how you’re, you’re helping people because, you know, 25% of women lawyers surveyed said they were considering leaving the legal profession because of mental health issues, burnout or stress. So what do you think the main causes of that are?
32:25 Suzi Hixon:
Oh, gosh, you know, this is, this is 1 of my hard problems that I’m working on, you know, I think it was, is it Richard Feynman, who said everyone should have like 12 hard problems that they’re constantly kind of marinating on. And 1 of mine is, 1 of mine is where what is the root, what is the root of this problem, right? Why are women in particular? I mean, you know, Rob, at the end of the day, it’s, it’s men in, in law to you know, and so I don’t want to overlook men as well, because I think that attorneys kind of in general, there, we’re all having some mental health challenges. I think, you know, we can look back, I think that some of us may be a little more predisposed. I think so many of us are seeking perfection. And as we talked about before we started recording, like, proof of perfectionism is a ethereal, like, we’re not going to ever reach it, so just kind of chill about that. We do have perfectionist tendencies. We are, you know, used to being perfect performers, and being highly rewarded for that. And there are a lot of expectations from us by clients, we’re always you know, wanting to provide the best service so and being super responsive. So there’s so much pressure from that, there’s pressure from from partners and colleagues to work late, to work on weekends, right. And that’s not, that is not conducive to mental health, like we have got to be outside. 1 of the things that helps me more than anything, in addition, in addition to my medication of course is, being outside and being in nature is sitting in front of a computer for hours on end, late into the evening, on weekends, no boy, like, this is not, this is not healthy, like we have to have a healthy balance. The root cause Rob, I don’t know what it is, but I think that it’s we have to keep exploring it, right. We have to keep trying to figure it out and figuring out ways that, that we can help the people that we mentor. I think that’s another 1 of my, my hard problems that I’m working on is, you know, what can I do better as a lawyer, as an older lawyer? And not that old, right. Just, just a couple of years older than some of the ones coming out of law school, but what can I do, as you know, as an attorney to help the younger generation of attorneys that are coming out to make their, their, their lives easier and to make that, make their experience as a lawyer a little easier. Interestingly, ties in with another 1 of my hard problems is, what would life look like if we didn’t, or what would the practice of law look like if we didn’t make it so complex? Do we make the practice of law unnecessarily complex? And what would it look like, if we could simplify it? And, again maybe that kind of ties in with my desire to, you know, simplify complex issues for clients, and I tend to rewrite contracts to make them very simple. You know, we don’t have to, we don’t need all of this, this, we tend to make things unnecessarily complex. And I think that is another thing that could harm our mental health.
36:03 Rob Hanna:
Yeah. And again, there’s so many important points that you touch on there. And again, we’re keen to get your thoughts because you know, women are more likely to over commit and have work family conflicts than men potentially. So what’s your advice around setting healthy boundaries?
36:21 Suzi Hixon:
Oh, okay, so setting boundaries, I love talking about setting boundaries. And I have to be careful because I’m in a different position than I know a lot of people are with setting boundaries. Setting boundaries is easier if you have your own practice. It’s very difficult when you’re working in big law, but my 1 piece of advice to start out with is set 1 boundary. Just set 1 boundary. Start somewhere, right? That could be I don’t check, this could be an email boundary, this could be I don’t check my email after 6pm right, or whatever time, you know, that might not be possible i you’re working on a big case, like we have to be realistic here. Boundaries can be fluid as well, they can evolve, but set that first boundary. And if it’s ever breached, you have to enforce your boundaries. The reason I say set 1 is because if you start setting all of these boundaries, like it will kind of, it’ll kind of freak you out. But if you set just 1 and you start kind of reaping the benefits of having set that 1 boundary, it’s going to feel so damn good. You’re going to want to do another 1, right? And it’s going to give you a little more confidence to set another boundary. And maybe that’s, you know, I’m, I’m really big on boundaries with clients and colleagues. And maybe 1 of those is you don’t work on weekends. For example, again, this isn’t necessarily real, realistic, if you are a first-year adult, you know, first year associate, right out of law school. But that’s, that’s 1 of those things that I feel like garner’s respect from other people. And when you start realising that slowly, incrementally, incrementally setting more boundaries in your life actually garners respect from the people that you really care about, you’re going to want to, you’re going to want to set more boundaries, you’re going to, you’re going to get better at it. A kind of a subset of boundary setting is really just learning how to say no. And people have a really hard time saying no. I remember being a young associate and 1 of the partners coming up behind me at a meeting and saying, hey, will you give this presentation, it was like during a meeting, I don’t know why this is so vivid, vivid to me. But he came up behind me and I was like, kind of, you know, I kind of jumped, he’s like hey, he knew I would say yes. And I of course I said yes. He’s like will you give this presentation to this thing next week, I’m like, oh, I just remember thinking, oh my gosh, I’m so slammed, but I was like okay yes. And at that point, I was like, why is it so hard for me to say no, like, why can I’m not saying like, why do I have a hard, you know, such a hard time saying no. And again, this is, this is 1 of those things where I feel like saying no comes with practice. It’s kind of you know, it’s again, it’s a subset of setting boundaries, but you know, saying no with kindness and compassion, I, you know, thank you for this opportunity. Thank you for thinking about me. I’m gonna have to say no, because this isn’t going to fit into my schedule. You don’t have to give reasons of course. Some people say no is a complete sentence. I’m not a big fan of that or no is a complete sentence. I’m not a big fan of that because I do feel like we should say no with grace. And, you know, at some point in your career you may very well get to the point where no will be your default answer unless, unless it’s a hell yes, right. So again baby steps in getting there.
40:10 Rob Hanna:
I love that. And I was gonna say that if it’s not a hell yes, it’s a hell no. And there’s so many great points that you say about this sort of setting boundaries, because start small, you know, and you start seeing it working, you’re more likely to, it’s going to become habitual, like you say, you’re going to set more and I think that’s really, really great. And, you know, unfortunately folks, life, you will not go through life personally, professionally without difficult conversations. So being able to kind of, you know, really get better at as Suzi was outlining there saying no, and putting it into your vocabulary, just your way of working and encouraging community, communicating with people, the far better off you would be. So Suzi I mean we’ve touched on so many different angles because you’re involved in so much and do so much, and you know I want to talk a little bit more about sort of, you know, women in the workplace because women are less likely to think they’ll get promoted. So how can women set goals and expectations? How can we prompt the conversations about goals, being realistic, or just generally thinking bigger?
41:06 Suzi Hixon:
Yeah. So first of all, I think it’s really important for women to ask for what they want. We tend to not do that. It’s very, it’s easy for me to say that, right? It’s easy for me to say, well just ,just ask for what you want because I can probably think about something in the last, you know, 6 months that I didn’t really ask for what I want. So, I do think having the support of other women, right, is really vital in this type of work and getting more strength and asking what, for asking what you want. The other thing too is, I think that before we even set those goals we really need to make sure that what we are striving for aligns with our true value, values. And the reason I like bringing talking about this is because I look back at my career and you know, it’s, it’s easy when you’ve been practicing for almost 20 years and you can kind of see this big spectrum of mistakes, all of the mistakes I’ve made. I want to pass on the mistakes that I made because I do want to help other people not make those same mistakes, right? Or at least kind of start veering them in the right direction faster than I figured it out. But what are the big mistakes that I made was I didn’t figure out my values. Before I started setting my goals, I set goals based on what I thought would make my family happy and what I thought society said we should really do, right? Like, you go to law school, you go, you make 6 figures, you get the corner office, and you then, you have a big fancy oak desk and leather bound books, and this is what you’re supposed to do, right? It was to have 2 kids, and send them to private school and boom, and I was like wait a second. So I was very much on that trajectory. And I just remember thinking like, I have not fulfilled by the month. I mean, I like the benefits of the money, but I wasn’t necessarily fulfilled by tangible items that money could purchase. So, you know, that was kind of a wakeup call for me. And so that’s why I really want people to think about what are your values before you even define what your goals are, what are your values in life. Is, is making that kind of money really important to you, you know, is education or service more important to you. Because once you figure out your values, which evolve, they will evolve, your values at 22 are not going to be the same at 42. You know, once you kind of figure that out, you can set goals and make decisions on a daily basis to move you towards meeting your goals. And just check in, just make sure that those decisions are aligning with your values. I think that’s so important and I know that a lot of people want to go straight to goal setting, but I just want to talk about how important that knowing what those values are. It’s just, it’s so important.
44:09 Rob Hanna:
It’s such sage advice because, you know, again, lots of people, I always ask people why do you work? And they almost look at me blank. And I say no why do you work? You know and maybe their obvious answer would be, I need to make money, I need to live but that’s not the values about you know, attached to, you know, why you getting out of bed every day to do what you do, and how is that aligning with your purpose or what you’re trying to do. And that’s why for me, 1 of my, you know, values of trying to really build this community and do it in a very open honest way is to, you know, provide inspiration or educational content and try and leave that legacy, you know, like my grandfather did in the legal industry. And that’s, what’s you know, it’s a real core value for me and it’s something that I stand by and also when times are tough, if you know why your values are there, they will get you through the tough times. So I really love you sharing all of this sort of really sage wisdom and advice with us. So I want to ask a bit more about personal branding because you were a guest on The Waist Up Wardrobe. You spoke about personal branding. So what can those in the legal industry do to really elevate their personal brands?
45:18 Suzi Hixon:
Okay this is gonna sound a little cliche, but I’m a big, I, I guess it’s still, I feel like it’s still advice, but you know dress for the role that you want to be, right. Like, I feel like dress has such an impact and, on how you show up. And I’m not like a colour theorist, you know, I can’t be like, oh Rob you really need to be, you know, wearing more pinks and reds or you know anything like that in terms of personal branding. But you know dress for the role that, that you you want to be. It’s so much better trust me to end up in a situation where you’re overdressed than underdressed because I’ve been in, I’ve been in both situations. You know, as for, you know, I’m a big fan of, I know that some people, you know disagree, like, oh, people don’t care what your zoom room looks like. But I’m like, they definitely, I think they do. I think people look, right. It’s like what’s going on back there behind you. So I did, I worked with Christine Vartanian and she’s, she let me tell you about her Rob, she’s really awesome. She would be fun on your podcast, she’s, was a lawyer. She’s, she’s a trained, trained engineer. She’s a lawyer. And now she’s a consultant for female or any professionals really, to kind of help them up-level their, their wardrobe. So I would love to be able to talk more about how branding works. From a personal perspective, but Christine is really like your think give a shout out to her. She’s like your go to woman on that.
46:55 Rob Hanna:
That’s a good shout. But um, I love what you’re doing for your personal brand because you’re, you’re doing not only the day job or the lawyering but you’re, you’re really building community through, you know high value content. And as a result of that, you know, your personal brand is building and building and building. And I love your advice there as well because I was always taught by someone, if you see it, if you believe it and if you take massive action, you can achieve it. And I think that’s kind of mirroring what you’re saying that you’re dressed for the role that you want to be, you know, if you can really see that and you can believe it and you take taking the action is a really important piece, folks, you will be able to achieve it. So before we look to close, it’s been a fascinating conversation, I love learning about your journey, and you’ve shed so much knowledge and wisdom throughout, you know, what would be your top 3 tips for female attorneys or anyone looking to focus on their mental health? And any of the final comments you would you’d like to add?
47:45 Suzi Hixon:
Yeah, thank you so much for having me Rob. This has been so, so much fun. Tip number 1 would be really work on becoming the observer of your own thinking. And 1 of the best ways really I think to do that is by journaling, or just writing and then taking a look at your writing and determining in within your sentences, what our actual facts or circumstances and what are just your thoughts about the circumstances. And you’ll see that 99% of everything that you’ve written, or it’s just, it’s just, just your own thoughts, right. And I think that this is important because our thoughts create our reality. And again, it’s 1 of those things that might be a little bit cliche, but I’m a huge believer of that. I’ve had situations where I’ve been able to very quickly change my thinking about a situation. And it turn out, you know, in an excellent way. So yeah, first of all, really start thinking about becoming how you can become the watcher of your own thoughts. We’re not our thoughts. We are also the observer of our own thoughts. And then, oh my gosh, second tip, plan your personal time, before you plan everything else. When you’re scheduling out your calendar for the next week, which I know we all do, right? We’re sitting there on Friday afternoon, we’re like okay, what are we going to, you know, how’s our, I feel like I have our weeks, so planned down to almost like, you know, in 15-minute increments, but put in your personal time, every day, whatever that looks like to you, you know, and it goes back to what you said a minute ago Rob. We have to fill our own cups first before we can pour into anyone else’s. And sometimes that means that we have to design our work around our personal life first. It’s so important. And maybe that looks like working out, what you know, or going for a run, or spending time outside. And maybe that’s really my third tip, because I think it’s so important, it’s not necessarily legal related, but could go for anyone. Getting in the sun, if you want to wear your SPF go for it of course, but getting some, you know, some sunshine every day, even if it’s cloudy out, is so important. Go for that 10- or 15-minute walk in the park, down the street, preferably in nature, I know that we can’t all get in nature every single day, but outside time, time away from your computer is so, so important for mental health.
50:44 Rob Hanna:
3 incredible tips there. And I loved that because I took away from that, you know, perspective, looking at things from the right sort of perspective, prioritising you, you know, and we have to get busy living and go outdoors. And you know, the little touches like that going out those 15 minutes can have huge positive impacts and benefits on you because you know, the better you are, the better you can be to this world, your clients, whoever it is you’re looking to engage or have within your life in your community. So before we wrap up, Suzi, if our listeners, which I’m sure they will, would like to learn more about Legally Blissed, Legally Blissed Conversations, your podcast, what’s the best way for them to contact you, feel free to shout out any social media web links. We’ll also share them with this episode for you too.
51:28 Suzi Hixon:
Oh gosh, thank you so much for giving me the opportunity again Rob. And thanks for giving me the opportunity to kind of shout myself out. But I have a podcast. It’s called Legally Blissed Conversations. It’s all like we talked about it’s all female lawyers who are telling their inspiring stories to inspire others. My community launches in October and you can go learn more about that at Legally Blissed dot com. And I am on Instagram and Twitter. Just my name Suzi Hixon. And that’s S U Z I H I X O N. So thank you again.
52:08 Rob Hanna:
Awesome, awesome, awesome. Well, thank you so so much, Suzi. It’s been a real pleasure having you on the show. So from all of us on the Legally Speaking Podcast, wishing you lots of continued success with your future pursuits and your career, but for now, over and out. Thank you for listening to this week’s episode. If you liked the content here, why not check out our world leading content and collaboration hub, the Legally Speaking Club over on Discord goes to our website www dot Legally Speaking Podcast dot com for the link to join our community there. Over and out.