About Hillary Vaillancourt

Hillary Vaillancourt is a lawyer and writer at The Vaillancourt Law Firm, LLC. She has experience in a wide variety of matters including food law, education law, real estate law, family law, criminal law, contracts, and estate planning. She earned her JD from New England Law|Boston and is licensed in Virginia.

Why You Should Celebrate Your Birthday in Law School

Why You Should Celebrate Your Birthday in Law SchoolThis week we welcome back guest writer Hillary Vaillancourt to talk about why celebrating life events is important – even if you’re busy in law school!

My birthday falls at the end of April—smack in the middle of finals season. My first year of law school, as my birthday approached, I couldn’t find anyone who was willing to take time out of studying to help me celebrate my birthday Understandably, especially that first year, all my classmates were thinking of their finals. Friends, family, and any other personal matters just weren’t a priority.

Not to be deterred, I decided to go ahead and celebrate on my own. My traditional birthday dessert has always been chocolate mousse cake, so I baked myself a dozen chocolate mousse cupcakes to enjoy while I studied. I set the finished cupcakes on a plate in the kitchen in my third floor Boston apartment and went back to my room to study. I planned to reward myself with a cupcake after getting through my civil procedure outline.

When I went back to the kitchen a few hours later, I realized I hadn’t been the only one interested in my cupcakes. Tiny little nibbles were missing from every single cupcake on my plate. A little mouse came to my party. All my birthday cupcakes were inedible.

It may seem like the worst birthday, ever, but I actually think of that birthday as one of the funniest ones I’ve ever had. More importantly, I am proud of myself for trying to celebrate. Here’s why it’s important to continue to celebrate life’s milestones even while in law school and studying for finals.

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How To Avoid Burnout

How To Avoid BurnoutThis week we welcome back guest writer Hillary Vaillancourt to talk about what to do if you’re facing burnout as a law or bar student.

Going to law school, studying for the bar exam, and practicing law (or doing much of anything, frankly) has been a stressful experience since 2020 began over a year ago. To say the least, right? Law school and the bar exam are stressful enough to begin with let alone without the added issues 2020, and now 2021, bring to us.

I can relate. Since the end of 2019, I have taken the bar exam, changed jobs, almost lost my brother to a mysterious illness, renovated a house, started my own law practice, moved into a new house, been pregnant, gave birth, had my stepson move in with my family, and had a newborn…all during the pandemic, and all while caring for a toddler.

Honestly, one thing I can say with certainty is I fully understand stress.

Here’s the thing about stress: when you don’t even realize it, it can become too much. It piles on incrementally until one day you don’t feel like doing anything. Not one thing. But, that stack of papers, those practice exams, none of that goes away so easily. You still have to do your job, take care of your family, and get through your day. Now into 2021, stress is still going to be around.

But, there are healthy ways to deal with stress so you don’t get burned out to a crispy crunch.

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How To Find The Area Of Law That’s Right For You

How To Find The Area Of Law That’s Right For YouThis week we welcome back guest writer Hillary Vaillancourt to talk about finding the right fit in a legal practice area.

I am one of those people. You know the kind, the kind that can’t try a new recipe without posting a picture on social media with a lengthy write-up about how the food was prepared, where, and why. The kind that will go to a restaurant and snap copious amounts of pictures of the meal before finally sticking a fork in it. The kind that leaves a #foodie on post after post. I proudly grocery shop like a tourist in a new city. I love scanning the shelves every week for some new product, some new, exotic ingredient I can use to bring my culinary creations to a higher level of deliciousness.

In fact, I love food so much, during my first year of law school I considered leaving to go to culinary school. A fellow classmate did just that and became a pastry chef, and to be honest, I have always been a bit jealous of her path.

I did finish law school, but when it came time for me to decide where I wanted my own career to go, I wasn’t as sure as I thought I was when I first decided to get a law degree. I knew I wanted to help people. I wanted to do something altruistic. I thought I would go to Washington, D.C. and lobby for a nonprofit. But, I wasn’t quite sure what specific road to take after law school.

If you’re unsure of your career path, or what area of law is right for you, here are a few tips for you to find your way.

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How To Navigate Law And Politics During The Holidays

How To Navigate Law And Politics During The HolidaysThis week we welcome back guest writer Hillary Vaillancourt to talk about managing some difficult topics at the holidays – including politics!

Several months ago I applied to work as a contract attorney for a bankruptcy firm. I needed to be admitted to a federal bankruptcy court, however, and another attorney in the firm offered to sponsor me for admission to the federal bankruptcy court. For over an hour, I chatted with this attorney, and we had a lovely conversation. He sponsored me for the court, and we said goodbye.

A few weeks after I was admitted to the bar, I had a legal question in this attorney’s jurisdiction. I called him, he took the time to talk with me and answer my question, and then out of the blue, he asked, “What’s your opinion on wearing masks?” [Read more…]

How To Practice Law As A New Mom

How To Practice Law As A New Mom

This week we welcome guest writer Hillary Vaillancourt to talk about balancing a law career and a new baby.

As a new attorney starting out, I had gone straight from undergrad to law school to private practice. I was in my early 20’s, single, and willing and eager to work as much as possible. 

I happily put in long hours at the office including weekends and on holidays. I enjoyed my work and the feeling of being needed by clients and my boss. 

After a six-year break in practicing law, I got back into the industry. This time, I was sworn in to the New York Bar on my son’s second birthday with my husband by my side. Needless to say, my day-to-day life is extremely different this time around now that I’m married and have a child (and one on the way!). 

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Three Tips For Networking During The Pandemic

This week we welcome back guest writer Hillary Vaillancourt, to talk about how you can still work on your networking skills, even when you’re stuck at home during COVID-19.

Most of us know how important networking is, particularly when you’re in law school and aspiring to a legal career. Having good grades and published law journal articles will absolutely make a difference in your job prospects. But, having quality connections is a significant advantage.

If you are looking to get hired by a firm, agency, nonprofit, or other employer, having connections may help you learn of unposted job openings. Your connections may provide meaningful letters of recommendation. Your connections who are “in the know” may help steer you away from employers from whom you wouldn’t want to work. Or, they may help you and mentor you even after you get hired. [Read more…]

How To Practice Law Virtually

How to Practice Law VirtuallyThis week we welcome back guest writer Hillary Vaillancourt to talk about how you can achieve success as a lawyer with a virtual practice.

I once worked for a law office (very briefly) where when I spent an evening in the ER, sick, pregnant, and absolutely miserable, I offered to work from home. One of the managing attorneys told me that it was impossible for a new attorney to work remotely and grow as an attorney.

Well, since the Coronavirus pandemic shut down law offices in several states, lots of firms are finding out that it is not only possible but sometimes advantageous to have attorneys work from home. Yes, there are special considerations.

After that job didn’t pan out, I started my own virtual law practice. Here are some things to consider if you, too, would like to strike out on your own, virtually speaking.

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How Coronavirus Uncertainty Is Good Practice For Working In Law

How Coronavirus Uncertainty Is Good Practice For Working In LawThis week we welcome back guest writer Hillary Vaillancourt to talk about lessons learned during COVID-19 and how these are useful to practicing law!

The last few months have certainly presented numerous challenges for law students and legal professionals alike. With many firms closed, others still considered essential, and still more in a gray area trying to figure out where they stand, the legal profession has been significantly impacted (like other industries) by the Coronavirus pandemic.

I’ll admit, when the pandemic hit, and my state (New York) closed all court houses, I was nervous to say the least. My law practice in New York was only a few weeks old, and suddenly I couldn’t go to court for any of my clients or pursue the court appointed work I expected I could complete to make ends meet.

However, as the weeks went by, I learned how to adapt my law practice in ways I never anticipated. The result was a much stronger practice, a much more confident attorney, and a happier lifestyle all around. Here are a few lessons I learned about practicing law in a pandemic.

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How To Overcome A Difficult Economy As A Solo Practitioner

How To Overcome A Difficult Economy As A Solo Practitioner

We’re welcome back guest writer Hillary Vaillancourt to talk about starting your own law practice during an uncertain economy.

I have been thinking about starting my own law practice for well over a year now. It’s kind of a joke among my friends, because all throughout law school and even when I worked for other attorneys, I couldn’t understand why someone would want to hang their own shingle. 

But, as a new mom, I really wanted a job that offered as much flexibility as possible. And, I wanted to work in a career where I could help people and do it my way. [Read more…]

Why Being A Woman In Law Is An Advantage

Why Being A Woman In Law Is An AdvantageThis week we welcome back guest writer Hillary Vaillancourt to talk about some advantages to being a woman in the legal field.

As women, we constantly hear about all of the reasons why the legal profession can be difficult. Clients assume we’re not tough. We have to earn clients’ respect. We have to earn the respect of our peers. We have to work twice as hard for half the pay. It’s impossible to have work-life balance. And, a family? Forget it.

But, there are many ways in which being a woman in law can be a great advantage. When you think of all the ways that being female is an asset (not a hindrance), you can see how to empower yourself in your career. Play to your strengths and you can accomplish whatever you set out to do.

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