By Noelle Neader
Tiffany Means – Carrying on a Legacy
For Tiffany Means, becoming a lawyer seeped from the flow of her bloodstream, as many of her family members carried the same title. Her journey, intricately woven with the legacy of her late father, Tyrone C. Means, Esq., echoed with the familiar chords of ambition and the earnest desire to make a difference in a male-dominated space.
From a young age, Means harbored aspirations of aiding others, drawing influence from the professions of doctors and lawyers. Growing up amidst legal luminaries, she found herself naturally inclined towards the intricate art of law, a passion that became the guiding star of her life. However, her journey took an unexpected turn, steering her from the comforting shadows of her father’s firm to the daunting helm of her own enterprise when he passed away.
“The challenge of running your own firm is you must know how to run and operate a business as well as practice law. Most law schools do not teach how to run your own law firm, so this can be a challenge for most lawyers,” Means said.
The transition from being an integral part of her father’s practice to helming her own firm brought forth challenges that were as vast as they were daunting. For Means, this proved to be a significant hurdle, one she surmounted through a blend of inheritance—soaking in her father’s wisdom from a young age—and an unyielding spirit that viewed challenges not as obstacles but as stepping stones toward personal and professional growth.
“What made it challenging was having to suddenly start and run my own law firm shortly after his passing. It was challenging dealing with the huge loss of my father while going through this transition. However, I don’t take challenges as a bad thing. Challenges help you grow and learn. I take every challenge as a lesson that prepares me to be the best me I can be. The practice of law itself can be challenging, there will be some tough cases out there so, to be a great lawyer one must be able to deal with the challenges to win their case,” Means said.
In the fiercely competitive legal world, being a woman further amplified the trials. The statistics are stark: According to the American Bar Association (ABA), only 38% of lawyers in the United States are women, a number that dwindles significantly to a mere 3% for African American women. In the courtroom and the boardroom, the male-dominated presence often overshadowed the expertise of female attorneys.
“The legal profession is very male dominated. You will constantly hear women in the legal profession state how we are often mistaken for the paralegal or secretary by clients and courthouse staff. Sometimes we are often overlooked when it comes to our voices being heard in the boardroom and courtroom. The preference of the client would be the male attorney but, the brains behind the success of the case was from a female attorney,” Means said.
Yet, amidst the biases and hurdles, Means found her triumph. The most significant reward, she believes, lies not merely in the victories won in courtrooms but in the daily battles overcome. Every day signifies a victory, a step taken toward her goals, and a testament to her undying spirit.
“You only lose when you quit. The biggest reward of it all is that I am an entrepreneur, running my own law firm and I am excited to be continuing my dad’s legacy,” Means said.
For aspiring business owners venturing into the uncharted waters of entrepreneurship, Means offered sound advice: “Do your research on the business you want to start, have a business plan and goals. Constantly review your business plans and goals and update them every year or few years, have a mentor that’s in the same profession or industry, take classes for business owners or classes related to your career if possible, never quit learning, network, and last but not least keep going. All businesses have to start somewhere and each have their ups and downs. If you look at the business journeys of a lot of your well known business owners, they started small and grew over time. They took risks, made investments and no matter what they kept going.”