An Interview With Chere Estrin

Five — manage expectations. It is imperative to remember to manage client’s expectations and ensure they understand all of the possibilities and potential outcomes of their case. Managing a client’s concerns and expectations go a long way in having that client see their attorney as an excellent advocate in their favor.

The legal field is known to be extremely competitive. Lawyers are often smart, ambitious, and highly educated. That being said, what does it take to stand out and become a “Top Lawyer” in your specific field of Law? In this interview series called “5 Things You Need To Become A Top Lawyer In Your Specific Field of Law,” we are talking to top lawyers who share what it takes to excel and stand out in your industry.

As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sabrina Shaheen Cronin.

Attorney Sabrina Shaheen Cronin, JD, MBA, is a true role model for today’s single working parents. Sabrina is a recognized motivational speaker, business strategist coach, and attorney. Sabrina helps families cope with co-parenting dilemmas in today’s challenging environment. Sabrina is the founder of The Cronin Law Firm in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

Sabrina is a graduate of the University of Michigan and received her Law Degree and MBA at University of Detroit Mercy. Her extensive experience includes working for a prestigious law firm in the Detroit Metropolitan Area, General Counsel for a Professional Employer Organization, and APA for the Oakland County Prosecutor’s office before establishing her own firm, which has organically grown into one of the top legal firms in Michigan. A true student of life, Sabrina continues to further her education, to better serve the ever-changing needs of her clients, both legally and supportively as an attorney, mentor, and coach.

Sabrina hosts a monthly Facebook and YouTube LIVE Series. “The Cronin Challenge2Change” and “The Cronin Law Show.” You can watch or listen to all shows on her Facebook, YouTube Channel or Podcast, available on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and Amazon Podcast. Sabrina has been featured as a legal expert and is a regular contributor for Hollywood Life, INSIDER, Good Housekeeping, PARENTS, WeddingWire, FOX News, Brides.com, Nikki Swift and more.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dig in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit more. What is the “backstory” that brought you to this particular career path in Law? Did you want to be an attorney “when you grew up?”

A legal career never entered my mind! My late father was a physician, I have a brother who is a physician, and another brother who is an engineer. They are also running the business my father started, which involves land development and property management. Growing up, I dreamed of becoming a performer; it was a passion of mine for the majority of my life. I have a genuine love of the performing arts. I am a classically trained pianist and I studied ballet, tap, jazz, and flamenco dance and voice from childhood through adulthood. Both during my years in college and after I graduated from the University of Michigan, School of Music, where I studied music and theatre, I traveled the country as a performer and recording artist. While I was “out in the world,” I saw many of my colleagues treated horribly. There was very little decent representation of artists who were either not paid or forced into or out of contracts and all of this affected me. I have an uncle who is an attorney and he and I spoke often of the law as I was growing up. The more I felt an inclination toward attending law school, the more I recalled having enjoyed hearing stories of his clients and experiences as a lawyer. As someone who always represents the “underdog,” it was a natural fit to get into the legal field to try and help my peers. I love the law; there are so many ways to fashion an argument for a client. Many times, you can find compelling case law on both sides of an issue, which makes creativity,persuasive writing and oral skills a necessity. While I still consider myself a musician, my passion has shifted to being someone’s strongest advocate both in their personal lives and in the courtroom. It is important for me to effectuate positive, lasting change in someone’s life. Also, fulfilling is knowing that I can be a voice for someone and show them how they can be their own best advocate moving forward.

Can you tell us a bit about the nature of your practice and what you focus on?

The Cronin Law Firm focuses on a wide range of legal issues, including family law, personal injury, business law, and civil litigation. My practice focuses primarily on family law and the intricacies of communication and strength. I step into my role as a counselor on a daily basis to make sure that my clients know they are heard, validated, respected, and protected.

You are a successful attorney. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? What unique qualities do you have that others may not? Can you please share a story or example for each?

I believe that the most instrumental character traits to my success are compassion, determination, and leadership. I am also an empath, which allows me to relate to my clients on a personal level to understand and service their needs. I believe I service others differently from most attorneys because I use all of the knowledge, skills, and experiences I have acquired over my lifetime, together with a strong sense of caring, to assist my clients in ways that will bring lasting change. Everyone, no matter their socioeconomic status or job title, deserves to be treated with empathy; however, I do not condone a victim mentality longer than what is reasonable. Some people may wallow in their situation longer than others, and some need to really work through the hard, emotional baggage to get to the other side; however, it is crucial they see that changing perspectives can change their reality. I empower others to be more objective and less emotional when dealing with their issues, and to be a better communicator in general. Extricating oneself out of emotional turmoil and trauma can be difficult, but not impossible. It is my job as an advocate for my clients to understand their whole person, and not just their legal issues, especially when it comes to family law and high conflict matters. Each person who walks into my office is treated like extended family and we work together to come up with a solution that fits their unique set of circumstances.

Do you think you have had luck in your success? Can you explain what you mean?

I think my success was achieved through hard work and perseverance. I had to –and still do — work diligently every day toward my goals, and nothing was handed to me. Dealing with rejection is necessary for any successful person, but the way you handle rejection determines who you will be. You can either let set-backs and failures define you, or you can use adversity to make you better; I have chosen the latter my entire life. You must pull yourself up and stand tall, learn from your experiences, and keep pushing forward with new ideas and creative solutions to any and all problems you face. Learn to discern the difference between the feedback that will serve you and the criticism that will harm you. Then trust yourself to make the necessary changes, push yourself forward, and turn your mess into your message.

Do you think where you went to school has any bearing on your success? How important is it for a lawyer to go to a top-tier school?

I don’t believe the school defines the lawyer. Each lawyer encompasses specific traits that make them stand out in the long term, which cannot be taught and can only be honed through personal life experiences, their own values, their own determination, discipline, and dedication. Every student in law school, no matter the school, has worked very hard to get there; and to continue to stay there, each student must put in a tremendous amount of effort. Passing the bar exam in any state is another big accomplishment. We must always remember to take stock of how far we’ve come and be grateful for achievements along the way as these moments pass quickly. Everyone deserves to be proud of their accomplishments!

Based on the lessons you have learned from your experience, if you could go back in time and speak to your twenty-year-old self, what would you say? Would you do anything differently?

I would tell my younger self to believe in yourself and trust your instincts. I let other people’s opinions outweigh my own to the point where I had no voice or self-esteem. Because I worried too much about other people’s opinions, I undermined myself. I believe this is why the law was such a perfect fit for me because in helping and serving the “underdog,” I was essentially helping myself, but had no idea I was doing this at the time. Despite this, I continued to push forward. I would reassure myself that everything would be okay, and things happen for a reason. I have always had faith that with hard work, determination, and dedication, you can do anything you put your mind to. When people see a successful person, they only see where they are at that moment; they rarely see the years of hard work, late nights, failure, rejection, and set-backs. I continue to work on myself every day to be better than I was the day before. When I was a young, shy, insecure young woman I could not have imagined this amazing life. I remain extremely grateful for all I have accomplished and all the blessings in my life.

This is not easy work. What is your primary motivation and drive behind the work that you do?

My compassion and love for people drives my career forward and helps me remember why I became a lawyer in the first place. I love helping and serving people. I believe that I can help make the world a better place, one person at a time. Everyone deserves to be happy and to be able to live a fulfilling life. I also believe that knowledge is power. By helping others to gain more knowledge about whatever issue it is they are facing, the more informed and better equipped they will be to manage that situation.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

This past year, I have become a media source for the press, which has been highly gratifying. I never realized I would have enjoyed writing as much as I do. I am now offering one-on-one coaching, holding workshops on various subjects, from co-parenting to self-confidence to effective communication for employers. I have also been asked to be a guest on several exciting podcasts and I have had the pleasure of interviewing some amazingly wonderful people on my own podcast. One of my goals in the coming year is to begin to reform the Michigan Family Court System, so that a more comprehensive co-parenting training course is offered to help litigants learn how to be better co-parents and have more accountability, so their children can transition with less trauma. Currently, I am in the early stages of writing a book and excited for what 2022 will bring.

Where do you go from here? Where do you aim to be in the next chapter of your career?

The next step in my career will be public motivational speaking because I am eager for the opportunity to empower massive amounts of people and give them the strength to stand up for themselves and push forward. Life can be difficult, but with the proper tools, anyone can learn how to thrive. In addition to this, another passion is my empowerment and co-parenting workshops. I would love to see a change in the Michigan Family Court System regarding their co-parenting programs to help protect children from their parents’ disagreements and bad behavior.

Without sharing anything confidential, can you please share your most successful “war story?” Can you share the funniest?

To me, the word “war” has a negative connotation and I do not like to refer to a person’s life experience that way. I realize there is a lot of negative and contentious behavior in many cases between litigants, but my goal is to help effectuate change in themselves, which in turn, changes their reality. Oftentimes, I help a client not take things so personally, even though the entire matter is personal, and change their perspectives to learn to view a negative situation as an opportunity to grow and transform. This positive approach allows my client to move forward healthily, especially if children are involved. I am proud to share that I have had many successful outcomes, but the party must be willing to change, be a good student, and when it comes to custody cases, they must be willing to show that they love their children more than they dislike their ex-partner. This takes an inner strength beyond many people’s comprehension.

Okay, fantastic. Let’s now shift to discussing some advice for aspiring lawyers. Do you work remotely? Onsite? Or Hybrid? What do you think will be the future of how law offices operate? What do you prefer? Can you please explain what you mean?

I have worked remotely and onsite. Currently, I do both from time to time. Working in a hybrid manner allows me to service my clients to the best of my ability and not be constrained logistically. During the pandemic, I equipped my home and my office to handle podcasts, virtual meetings, and court hearings. While I believe that in-person interaction with clients is crucial to service their needs and counsel them appropriately, offering a hybrid option, such as a Zoom or a telephone conference, allows me and the other lawyers at my firm to connect with each individual when and how that client prefers.

How has the legal world changed since COVID? How do you think it might change in the near future? Can you explain what you mean?

During these unprecedented times, the entire world, including the court system, became virtual. I believe that it is entirely possible that some court hearings will remain virtual because it is cost-efficient, time-effective, and it streamlines the process. Allowing attorneys and parties to appear for hearings via Zoom or another platform saves money because clients do not have to pay for drive and wait times. Attorneys can also do more work while at their office and waiting for a case to be called, and courtrooms are not over-crowded. While courts are still holding many hearings virtually, most trials in Michigan are now being held in-person. The backlog of cases scheduled for trial, however, has been tremendous and it will take some time before the court dockets resume some sense of normalcy.

We often hear about the importance of networking and getting referrals. Is this still true today? Has the nature of networking changed or has its importance changed? Can you explain what you mean?

Networking is still crucial, although the mode has changed. With the age of the internet, you can now find a referral network that will extend across the nation. It is still very important for attorneys to connect with one another and form professional relationships so clients can be well taken care of, and cases can be referred out to trusted colleagues when necessary.

Based on your experience, how can attorneys effectively leverage social media to build their practice?

Social media is this generation’s main mode of communication and marketing. In order to build your brand and connect with new clients, it is crucial to have a strong, well-maintained social media presence. Using social media to advertise your attorneys and make them seem more “human,” helps make your firm more relatable and less intimidating. Additionally, using social media to advertise any upcoming events or workshops is a plus because it generates more traffic to your website and ultimately leads to the opportunity to help more clients.

Excellent. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things You Need To Become A Top Lawyer In Your Specific Field of Law?” Please share a story or an example for each.

One — compassion. To be a strong lawyer, and a strong person, you need to be in touch with and realize that we are all human, we all make mistakes, and we all fall on hard times. Understanding without judgment is crucial to genuine caring. Compassion distinguishes great attorneys from mediocre ones.

Two — listening skills. To understand the depths of each case fully, you need to listen to understand, rather than listen to respond. A great listener helps the client feel understood, heard, and validated, and will allow the attorney to hear details that their opponent may not.

Three — open-mindedness. The practice of law is a creative art, and it requires attorneys to be open to new ideas and adapt to the present circumstances of each case.

Four — be articulate. The best attorneys are the ones who know how to read the room, react accordingly, and present their client’s position effectively through their word choice and demeanor.

Five — manage expectations. It is imperative to remember to manage client’s expectations and ensure they understand all of the possibilities and potential outcomes of their case. Managing a client’s concerns and expectations go a long way in having that client see their attorney as an excellent advocate in their favor.

** I realize this is an additional point, but the practice of law is just that, it is a practice. If an attorney remembers to continue to hone their skills, be prepared, be diligent, and practice, practice, practice, they will become better and better and better!

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂

And I feel very blessed to have been asked to conduct this interview! Thank you so much! There are so many people with whom I would love to have a private meeting, but if those who have passed count, I would like to speak with my late father. I learned my work ethic from him, and I owe my tenacity, perseverance, and determination to him. I would have also liked to speak with Albert Einstein, Napoleon Hill, and Neville Goddard. Each of these visionaries, intelligent, and creative thinkers had the mental fortitude to withstand naysayers and forge ahead with life-changing theories. Their inspired actions and strength of mind defied the times in which they lived.

Additionally, I am a huge fan of Eleanor Roosevelt for her strength, tenacity, and commitment to doing what is right for the sake of humanity. She also empowered others through supporting education and being conscious of the circumstances of people’s lives. I am a huge advocate for becoming empowered through knowledge and truly understanding and becoming intimately aware of someone’s circumstances — for it is only in doing so, that you truly understand someone’s perspective. As for somebody I could have a conversation with and absorb some knowledge, I would say Tony Robbins. I have taken his classes, attended a few of his summits, and it has helped me push past some barriers. I like how he takes different modalities and combines them with his knowledge, education, and experience, to create his own style to help people live better, happier, and more successful lives. I also admire his work ethic, drive, and passion for learning.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!

Thank you so very much! The same to all of you at Medium!

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