Making It Work

Prioritize and find success through your support system

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Jennifer Trusso Salinas

Jennifer Trusso Salinas courtesy of Troutman Sanders

As a woman who cannot say no to a worthy cause, I have really had to learn to prioritize. I learned this lesson very early on, as I got married at 19 years old and had my first son at 21, while I was attending college. My son was 17 months old when I started law school. I had my second son when I was a second-year associate. I made partner when I was a seventh-year associate. People always ask me, “How did you do it?”

Let me first say a few things about myself personally, so you understand that I did not see failure as an option. I put myself through school, so I had no choice but to do well. I absolutely needed the scholarship money, and I had so much more riding on my success than just me.

Second, I don’t lose sleep over the fact that I am a working mother. I grew up with all the women in my life working. My mom, aunts and grandma had to work. There was no other choice. I was the first person in my family to graduate from high school, let alone obtain a college and law school degree.

It wasn’t until I entered this profession that I began to experience the harsh judgment about my “choice” to work. I’ve had a few instances in which other women question my love for my children because I have a career. In fact, I remember being called a “part-time” mom. Any working mom knows that we do not stop being a mom the moment we walk into our offices. I have the text messages to prove otherwise. Many women in this country have no other choice but work. But even for those women who do have a choice and choose to work, they should be supported—not judged.

Last point on this issue: During my career, I became a single mom. I am beyond grateful that I had a career and the resources to take care of my boys when I was a single mom.

Now, as to how I make it work? First, I do not do it alone. I have come to rely heavily on family and friends. I would have never been able to accomplish as much as I have without my close family and friends.

Second, I outsource. I have decided that the best use of my time is not baking every birthday cake, making dinner every night or cleaning my house (although I inevitably do more cleaning than I would like). Outsourcing was a difficult decision, as I grew up being taught, like many Latinas, that your value as a mom was based on how well you cleaned your house and your cooking abilities. I was killing myself trying to do it all. I eventually got over having to do it all.

That being said, some things I do hang on to that are very important to me. Because I know my days and nights might be hijacked, I value my morning time with my family. I get up early to make my kids breakfast and their lunches (even my high schoolers).

I also do not outsource anything that relates to my children’s schooling. I try to attend school activities, including their games and performances, and I’m in constant contact with their teachers. When my kids were younger, I would help out in the classroom. The teachers were very supportive and knew that I would not be able to be a consistent presence, but they worked with my schedule. I was very fortunate.

Lastly, I was fortunate to get remarried to a great man who is a true partner. We are very good at dividing and conquering. When I have a crazy week, he’s on kid duty. When he has a crazy week, it’s my turn. In those rare instances where we both have crazy weeks, we call on family and friends.

In short, everyone needs a team to lean on. Find the right team for you and your family.

Jennifer Trusso Salinas is a partner at Troutman Sanders in Irvine, California, where she focuses her practice on intellectual property litigation and strategic counseling on all aspects of clients’ intellectual property portfolios. She is president-elect of the Hispanic National Bar Association.

Making It Work is a column in partnership with the Working Mother Best Law Firms for Women initiative in which lawyers share how they manage both life’s challenges and work’s demands. Visit for more.

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