On the first Tuesday of every month, we’ll announce a new Female Founder, including a video interview of them sharing their business story. Want to be featured as a Female Founder? Contact Heather Hutchings for more details. The Female Founders Program would not be possible without our Title Sponsor, Scotiabank.
To learn a little more about the Scotiabank Women Initiative, and why they’ve chosen to sponsor this program, see the video below.
The next Female Founder we’re featuring is Sarah Mumtaz, Partner and Founder of Sarah Mumtaz Law Offices.
Sarah Mumtaz is the partner and founder of Sarah Mumtaz Law Offices and has over 6 years of experience practicing in the areas of Estate Planning, Family Law, and Corporate Law.
Prior to founding Sarah Mumtaz Law Offices, Sarah gained experience at a top-tier law firm in Toronto where she provided excellent legal services to her clients. She provided customized advice to clients tailored to their specific needs and helped them successfully navigate through various legal matters.
Sarah earned her J.D. in 2016 from the University of Windsor, her Honours B.A. from York University in Political Science in 2013, and her B.A. in Psychology from York University in 2011, where she received an honours reward in French Studies. She is admitted to the Law Society of Ontario.
She is a member of the Ontario Lawyers Association, Waterloo Law Association, Women’s Law Association of Ontario and a student member of the Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP).
To learn more about Sarah and her journey as a Female Founder, watch the interview below (or read the written format).
Tell us a little bit about your business!
I founded Sarah Mumtaz Law Offices this year, and prior to that I was working at a Bay Street law firm in Toronto, and prior to that I was working at a law firm here in Cambridge for about six years where I learned everything I know (about law). It was a fantastic opportunity, and I decided to go out on my own because it was time for me to set down my roots and start building a practice based on my vision (of Estates Law).
Where did your business idea come from?
I was working at a law firm here in Cambridge for about six years where I learned a lot of small business skills and I really thought with my entrepreneurial spirit that this is something that I would be really interested in doing for myself. I had a great mentor named Robert McMaster, who taught me a lot about what I know about business today and really inspired me to start my own practice.
How did your mentor inspire you?
I loved the way he ran his practice it was a workplace that not only felt like work but was really like a family as well. There was a lot of great opportunities for mentorship, to be a mentee and to learn a lot about not just the law but also the business of law.
Did you want to pursue something other than law?
When I was in school, I really thought I wanted to become a psychologist which worked out well because a lot of lawyers are also therapists for their clients, so it works sort of hand in hand, especially the way I run my practice. It is certainly a bit more of a compassionate sort of approach and more of a human approach to it. That’s always been a part of me, and I carry that in my practice.
What have been some highlights in your entrepreneurial journey?
I’ve won the “Readers Choice Awards” here in Waterloo Region a few times and that’s a testament I think to how I approach everything with my clients. Going into my own practice alone I think that’s really been a driver for the success of it so far, just being able to connect with people has been very important.
Who inspires you?
More than anything it’s the everyday people. It’s people who especially for their estate planning that have not spoken to a lawyer and had their affairs in place, that would have cost their estate a lot in time, a lot in grievances, and a lot of money. I’m happy to help those people, I’m happy to help people who really need the care and attention to their estate plan.
What have been some of the challenges you have faced?
Our offices have three locations and one of the greatest challenges has been really ensuring that each location is serviced appropriately. We’ve now been able to hire some staff to make sure that there’s service at every level and it’s been a challenge to sort of gear it up. With Covid19 it was a little bit difficult to sort of get the ball rolling but now with the “Law Society” on board as well, there are certain processes that are made easier by virtual meetings and virtual signings, things like that as well that certainly made it easier for us to maintain the practice and to thrive.
What does your firm specialize in?
Our practice is predominantly around Estates, we do estate planning; that’s doing your wills, and Estates trusts, setting out Powers of Attorney, we do a state administration which is when someone that you know has passed away you would call me to help the executor get the estate through the probate process and then through the administration process as well. Lastly, we do some estates litigation as well so that’s when things sort of go wrong and you need a lawyer to help with the issues with the administration. We do some family – uncontested divorces separation agreements, cohabitation agreements, and some corporate law as well.
Knowing what you know now, is there anything you would do differently?
I really like the trajectory of my career so far. I’ve met some fantastic people along the way, I’ve had many people teach me very great things along the way, whether that be in law or business or both, and even just Client Services, networking, and marketing. I’ve had some great mentorship along the way, and I think that I’m very grateful for those experiences that have gotten me here today.
What methods have you used to grow your business?
Growing a business is the one thing they don’t teach you in law school, certainly the business side of things are things that come with time. I think networking is one of the most important things, joining the KW Chamber of Commerce for example, joining these networking associations, joining other sorts of business Referral Services. Things like that are really useful, especially for small businesses just starting out just getting your name out there it is really underrated. It’s very important for the success of a business.
How do you define success?
To me success is the happiness that you get in helping others. I think that when someone comes back and says “thank you so much I’m so grateful for all the hard work you put into my estate” or their estate comes to you and says “thank you for helping my loved one, my elderly parent whoever that may be in getting everything in order this, has really helped the grievance process because everything was in place properly.” That to me is success because then I feel like I’ve done a good job.
What have been some core values that you have integrated into your business?
Being born and raised in Waterloo, now it’s a big city, but it wasn’t when I was growing up, when it was a small town, everyone knew each other and actually still today I’ll go to Conestoga Mall, and I’ll still run into people that I know but that feeling of community and knowing that the bottom line is not necessarily the most important thing. It is being able to nurture and flourish the relationships with the people in your community, being able to help those that need assistance and doing so with compassion I think have been really something that I’ve grown up with and is a testament to Waterloo Region and the people that live in it. That has really bled into the way that I like to operate my practice and the way that I like to run my business.
What are some of the strategies you use when it comes to building teams and recruiting talent?
I always I make the joke that if I could clone myself then I would be very happy because I would know exactly how everything’s being done but that can be a disadvantage in and of itself because of course when you have a diversity of people that work with you, with regards to their mindsets or with regards to their backgrounds and sort of the experiences that they bring to the to the field. You know sometimes it actually does make you aware of other things that you would have missed because of your own sort of lens and your experiences in the past. That said, looking for talent I think is one of the hardest things but once you find great talent it is one of the most rewarding things, knowing that your practice is in good hands and that you know everyone that comes into your practice and everyone that approaches your services is being handled with care and with respect. That’s what I look for when I add to my team and I think my team currently are very compassionate, very caring, and patient. I think that’s something that I really value in our team.
What have been some benefits of establishing your business in Waterloo Regions compared to big cities like Toronto?
We do have office in Toronto and so I think I can talk to you a little bit about the differences. In Toronto I think that there is because it’s a major city. It’s what’s gone from Toronto if it ever was there – that sense of community and Waterloo region has grown exponentially in the past maybe 10-15 years, but it still maintains that sense of community and I really enjoy that about Waterloo Region.
What inspires you?
I would say certainly my family, my growing family so that’s very inspirational and it certainly is a reason to get excited to wake up every morning. Also, my business, I always say I have a business and a baby on the way, those are the two things that I really enjoy, and they bring me a lot of happiness.
What advice would you give to other aspiring business owners?
I think that the scariest part and the most challenging part of starting a business is just starting it. It is having the guts or having the moxie to say: “I can do this.” Having that confidence in yourself I think is the most important thing I think that once you’ve taken that step to start the business you would be so surprised and pleased with yourself at how well you’ll do if you just have that confidence in yourself.
What audacious goals do you have for your business in the future?
Being that we just started this year and we’re already at a staff of about five including myself. I think next year I’d like to double that; I’d love to have another lawyer on this staff, I’d love to have some more staff in general and really just start to build the practice.
Would you be open to mentoring someone in the future?
Absolutely. I really am a firm believer that the finish line is big enough for all of us. I really like the idea and I think this comes again from the background of the mentorship that I’ve received, you teach the skills, you grow, you do well and then eventually you go out and you and you do it on your own the same way that I have. I would love to be the Catalyst for someone else who if that was their goal and help someone achieve their dreams as well.
How do we find you?
We have three offices; one is in Toronto, one in Etobicoke, and then of course our main office here in Waterloo. You can certainly Google us to find us, and you can visit our website at www.sarahmumtazlaw.com.
*This interview has been edited for length and clarity.