She’s both a warrior and a nurturer

As managing partner of a boutique law firm in Los Angeles, Evie Jeang gets to put both sides of her nature into play.

Evie Jeang is a warrior.  You might not think that description is apt in describing the petite attorney from Los Angeles. But, when it comes to representing her clients’ interests, she insists that she fights as hard as any man in combat.

Yet, when it comes to being the boss at work she allows her nurturing side to emerge. As principal of the law firm, Ideal Legal Group, she draws upon her hard charging nature as a lawyer to drive the firm’s success. But her experience helping small businesses establish footing in America and with a specialty in family law, Jeang learned that as a manager her “inner nurturer” could be equally effective.

“I have learned from my associates,” Jeang said in a recent interview. “As a result, they have become more patient with me and that has brought out the nurturing side of me. You have to appreciate the people who help you get where you are.”

The Ideal Legal Group has become a champion for immigrant-owned businesses in California, especially for those owned by Asian Americans. “Most of our business clients are based in Los Angeles. They are Asian immigrants want to have a better life for themselves and their kids.  They may have opened a restaurant, clothing business or a small trucking company.   But they don’t know how business is run in the United States. They don’t know the law.   That’s where I come in,” she says.

There is a distinct difference in how business is conducted in the United States versus China, she observes.  “In America everything has to be in writing. In Asia the percentage of lawyers is very small compared to other professions. A lot of business deals in Asia come down to who is the most macho; who can drink the most at a bar, for example. Part of the Asian culture depends on being proud and many deals are finalized with only a handshake,” Jeang says. “And it’s not a good place for women.”

“In the United States you do business differently. Everything here needs to be in writing, and so much depends on legal details. It’s more merit based,” she says. And that opens the door for her legal expertise.

“I was born in Taiwan, so I have been exposed to both cultures. My father was a small business owner, so I saw how things worked with him.” she says. Her personal experiences also led to the other focus of the Ideal Legal Group – family law. “I like drama, so I was drawn to family law,” she quips. “A lot of attorneys won’t touch it. But my parents divorced, so I was directly affected. My goal is to make sure any children are taken care of.”

Much of her firm’s work in business and family law is connected to the same clients. “The majority of what we do is international divorces and international business. More marriages occur internationally. Once you increase marriages internationally, the sad thing that is you specialize in international divorces. When we handle divorces, a lot of [the couples] have factories in China or houses in the United States. Those clients like our legal service, so once they open a company in the U.S., they want to stay on with our attorneys to help them operate the business,” she explains.

A graduate of UCLA, Jeang received her law degree from Southwestern University School of Law, where she was an officer of the Asian Pacific American Law School Association.

After graduating from law school she became a senior associate at the California State Compensation Insurance Fund and later joined Armstrong & Siegel as an associate, where she served such industry leaders as Southwest Airlines, Costco Wholesale, LAUSD, Bassett Unified School District, Laidlaw Transit, Adelphia Communications, Goodwill Industries, and American Medical Response.

“When I graduated I was working in government child support and I wanted to be a district attorney, but I needed to pay back my student loan.”  At Armstrong & Siegel her aggressiveness came to the front and she became a top biller. “But I got engaged and ultimately went back to work for state.” For her work at Los Angeles County Child Support Service she was awarded a Certificate of Excellence for her professionalism and dedication to justice.

“I still have my aggressiveness,” she says. “So in 2006 I decided it was time to open my own practice. She started as a single practitioner with her friend’s sister as office manager.  Today the Ideal Legal Group employs five associate attorneys and practices in California and New York. An office recently opened in San Francisco. Jeang requires her associates to be fluent in at least one other language, usually Chinese or Spanish. Jeang herself is fluent in Mandarin Chinese and Taiwanese as well as English.

“We help small businesses to survive in the United States,” she says. “We are considered a good middle-range law firm. Our hourly rates are relatively cheap and we allow our clients to establish payment plans with us. We help them grow and they help us grow.  If small businesses are doing well, then the economy as a whole is doing well.

“We are known for our programs for small businesses. We help them run a business the way I would run a business. And we have a track record to point to,” Jeang says.  “We are also focused on helping minorities. That’s why everyone here must speak another language.”

She prefers to grow her firm in a measured way. “I never want us to become a big law firm.  I’ll hold the line at eight attorneys,” she says.  “We can grow because people help us and vice versa.  I want to have a small business owner’s life.” 

Having worked in both the public and private sectors, Jeang has an observation: “I don’t think many attorneys really love their jobs.  That’s not why I went to law school.  I went to law school because I wanted to help people. Somehow down the line it’s easy to lose sight of our ideals.”  She remembers working extremely hard to be the top biller at the large firm she worked for early in her career.

“But I didn’t really feel I was making a difference for people. I want to do something I enjoy.  I want my co-workers to enjoy their jobs and feel like they have a purpose. If you want to help people in a legal way, this is the place for you,” she says. “This is my family, I spend more time with my co-workers than anyone.”

Her advice to young professionals: “Do something you love and you will be fine. I really believe that.  Always be humble and appreciate the people who helped you get where you are.”

Leigh Elmore is contributing editor of ABWA’s magazine, Women In Business and owner of Elmore Editorial based in Kansas City, MO. Contact him directly at