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Altruism Drives Family Law Attorney’s Success

Business Student Exercising an Educational Option Discovers a LIFELONG PASSION for Family Law and a DRIVE to Help Individual People and Families One-on-One

How many students attend law school with becoming an attorney only one of many options? That's precisely the situation Puja Sachdev found herself in. Today she is a successful family law attorney and founder of Sachdev Legal Group, APC. "I was working for a mutual fund company in the San Francisco Bay Area and was planning on getting my MBA, but decided to go to law school instead. It was on a whim. I thought a law degree would open more doors into fields I would be more suited for," she says. The drive to enter family law developed in law school while working pro bono at the Guardianship clinic at the San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program and in an internship with the San Diego Superior Court at the Family Law Facilitator's office. Her attitude about practicing law and her career path changed dramatically and she devoted her energies to the legal profession, specifically family law. She eventually earned an MSBA in Financial and Tax Planning after becoming a licensed attorney, but along the way discovered a passion for family law, a passion born of an altruistic nature and a desire to help people manage getting through some of the most emotionally challenging times of their lives.


Because of her business skills and financial education, she soon began seeing better ways to practice family law, manage a law practice, and better serve clients. She believed strongly that law firm employees, more than anything else, were the keys to success. While working for other firms she found that employees were not a top priority. Carefully observing the management approaches of those other firms and hearing stories from colleagues, she just couldn't comprehend that the next new or biggest client was given a higher priority than the employees who serve those clients.
Unless absolutely necessary, she doesn't want her people working overtime, working weekends or working late. Sachdev believes the only way her team can function at peak efficiency on the job is to make sure they have downtime for family, friends and outside interests. Her philosophy is basic. "I started my own firm with my idea of a pyramid with me at the top.

I have to take care of myself—emotionally, physically, mentally and financially. This allows me to take care of my team. Because my team is valued and are at their best, they can then take care of our current clients and be at their peak performance to serve them. At the bottom of the pyramid are potential clients. If we are too busy and the top three tiers cannot be taken care of then we do not take any new clients. I am not going to sacrifice the top three tiers for the potential money of a new client."

Direct and Candid—the Most Altruistic Approach
Sachdev believes that clients are best served when provided the facts of their situation and a direct and honest evaluation of all possible outcomes. She does not embellish those outcomes, but provides a candid opinion of all possibilities—even those possibilities unfavorable to the client.
"It is their lives and their families, and they are going to make the ultimate decision. It is my job to make sure it is an informed decision. When attorneys do not discuss what the negative consequences can be or the possible unfavorable outcomes can be from a judge, they are doing a disservice to their clients," she says.
Her clients agree. One wrote, "I hired Ms. Puja Sachdev to handle my child custody case. Puja is truly knowledgeable and an expert in this very difficult area of law. The case was very complicated and there were many allegations that were being made. Ms. Sachdev made sure I understood the process and provided me with the best way to present my case, and always made me aware of my options. She was confident in the courtroom and argued my case very well. Puja is not afraid of the fight, if the fight is necessary … I have Puja to thank for my child now being in a safe and healthy environment."
Sachdev goes to extraordinary lengths to make sure her team is personable and approachable. They realize their clients are undergoing serious and often heartbreaking experiences and the direct and candid approach should be balanced with a warm and open environment. This attitude is reflected in the location and décor of their offices. "We are located in Mission Valley because I did not want to be located downtown because most people in San Diego have no desire to go downtown and deal with all of the stress of parking and one-way streets. If they have to go downtown for court, it is very stressful for them. Our location in Mission Valley makes it easy for potential clients to find us and for our clients to stop by our office if they need to," she says.Instead of designing the formal and potentially emotionally sanitized office environment found with many firms, Sachdev opted for a bright green and blue paint scheme. The environment is closer to a family living room than a cold office. Sachdev and her staff make a point of dressing "business casual." Her approach has the effect of calming down nervous or emotionally charged clients, making them feel better and at ease. Everyone in the office goes by first names to maintain the informal nature of conducting business.

Taking Care of Clients Takes Care of Business
Two key factors generate considerable referral business for Sachdev Legal Group. One is the previously mentioned commitment to an altruistic approach to client care. Sachdev says, "Other attorneys refer their own family members, friends and clients to us because we take care of them as a person and not just their divorce or child custody case. Because of the nature of our field, it isn't only the facts of a case we work with, it is the intimate details of a person's life, health and relationships."
Approximately one-third of the firm's cases involve working with other attorneys on various cross-over issues: prosecutors, criminal defense attorneys, tax attorneys, real estate attorneys, bankruptcy attorneys, immigration attorneys, and personal injury attorneys. They also work with family law attorneys from other states and countries if there are jurisdictional issues to address with custody and visitation or enforcement of court orders over state lines. The second reason relates directly to the nature of family law. The emotionally draining caseload causes significant attorney burnout. Many talented people drop out of the practice area due to the emotional strains they encounter on a daily basis. They move on to transactional work, patent law, business law and other less emotional areas. Sachdev's response is just the opposite. "It can be difficult, especially when children are involved, and there's a lot of burnout and turnover. But I actually like the practice. I enjoy working one-on-one with people and helping move them through challenging times," she says.
Most importantly, when children are involved, all of the decisions have to take that into consideration because, in some way, there will be a trickle-down effect on the children. The firm's ability to handle the emotional stress while functioning at peak capacity pays off in successful cases and in personal responses from clients. The firm frequently receives "thank you notes" in the form of graduation announcements, pictures, holiday cards and email updates from existing and past clients.
Sachdev Legal Group is actively involved in the San Diego community. As a firm they take on pro bono cases in family law and guardianship with the San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program. SDVLP is dedicated to providing legal services to indigent San Diego County residents who otherwise are unable to afford or access assistance. SDVLP screens all cases for merit and client financial eligibility. Sachdev has been an avid supporter since she first volunteered with the organization in law school.
Sachdev personally volunteers with California Labradors and More on Saturdays at their adoption events as a family ambassador assisting potential adopters through the process. Upwards of 40 dogs can be adopted at one event. In just seven years, over 8,000 dogs have been rescued and at any time there are over 200 dogs and puppies in their care available for adoption. Labs and More is Southern California's fastest growing and most active dog rescue.

Caring for the Whole Person
Sachdev's trademarked motto for her firm expresses well their approach to family law and the individual people and families they serve. "We are the voice of compassion, integrity, and experience in an adversarial world."
Perhaps the effect of Sachdev and her team on the people they serve is best summed up in a recent review. "Ms. Sachdev expertly guided me through a high- conflict divorce and custody case. She gained my trust by advising me on options and supporting my choices. In my opinion, an attorney should listen, advise, and act in the best interests of their client, and Ms. Sachdev possesses all of these qualities. Her ability to calm and advise a client under pressure and stress is admirable. She took care of me as a whole person, not just a client; I never felt like I was just another client. She answered all my questions—which I had many. After nine months of litigation I finally have my peace back. I think some forget that law and the Court system takes a tremendous toll on the person, but not Ms. Sachdev. She is truly an exceptional attorney."
Sachdev says helping people meet the legal and emotional challenges found in family law is more than a cut-and-dry process. "It's a journey. When we wrap up a case, the person at the end is not the same person who walked through our door in the beginning. It's very rewarding to be with someone on that journey. It's what keeps us going."

» EDUCATION

  • Bachelor of Science, Dual Major in Marketing and Management, Minor Japanese, University of Nevada Reno
  • Juris Doctor, Cum Laude, Thomas Jefferson School of Law
  • Master of Science in Business Administration, Financial and Tax Planning, San Diego State University

» CREDENTIALS

  • Certified Legal Specialist – Family Law by the State Bar of California, Board of Legal Specialization
  • Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™

» AWARDS

  • Top Lawyers in San Diego, San Diego Magazine 2017, 2018
  • Best of the Bar, San Diego Business Journal 2015, 2016, 2017
  • Rising Star, Super Lawyers Magazine 2015, 2016, 2017
  • Best Family Law Lawyer in San Diego, FINE Magazine 2016
  • Top Attorney Family Law, San Diego Daily Transcript 2013, 2015
  • 40 Under 40, SD Metro Magazine 2013
  • Wiley W. Manuel Award for Pro Bono Legal Services, State Bar of California 2013
  • Standout Award – Family Law, San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program 2013
  • Top Young Attorney, San Diego Daily Transcript 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013
  • Best Lawyer in San Diego Family Law, San Diego Metro Magazine 2012

» PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS

  • AV Preeminent Rating from Martindale Hubbell
  • Lawyers Club of San Diego
  • San Diego County Bar Association
  • Enright Inn of Court
  • San Diego Family Law Bar Association
  • Association of Family and Conciliation Courts

Contact
Puja A. Sachdev, CLS-F, M.S.B.A., C.D.F.A.
Sachdev Legal Group, APC
2851 Camino del Rio South, Suite 430
San Diego, CA 92108
619-866-3756
SachdevFamilyLaw.com

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