On Success, leadership, building an outstanding law firm
Meet Attorney Veronica Vallelonga, co-Founder of Devichy Avocats; a private practice based in Quebec that specializes in all legal fields from business to family law. A company she founded just three years ago, and five years right out of graduate school. Devichy Avocats has become one of the top family law firms in the province of Quebec and growing exponentially year over year. With over 30 lawyers to date spread amongst 13 locations in Quebec and counting, her brand excels in providing top quality services to clients in a mobile friendly environment. “We concentrate on offering a virtual experience for our clients and lawyers, unlike conventional firms” she states. The concept of Devichy Avocats is to create a one-stop shop where our clients legal needs are met under one banner, highly advanced with technologies that allows them to offer a virtual experience to clients.
Veronica Vallelonga is an entrepreneur at heart, who credits her success to her partner, Me Xavier Cormier, the outstanding team at Devichy Avocats, her loyal clients and her husband who have supported her and helped her hone her skill sets over time. An outstanding negotiator and workaholic, she makes every effort to restore peace of mind to her clients facing a family crisis. Veronica Vallelonga’s expertise in the law, matched with her leadership skills, are unmatched in her field. Here is her story of grit, resilience, and excellence in all that she does.
Tell our readers about yourself. Did you always see yourself having a career in the law?
I obtained by bachelor’s degree at McGill university in political science and international development studies since I initially wanted to work as a lawyer for the United Nations. My background is very linear, I went to the University of Montreal and then moved to Quebec city to attend Université de Laval. Considering that I was completely anglophone, I moved there for law school since I wanted to improve my French and really immerse myself in the culture. The bachelor’s degree is in French, bar school is in French and 90 % of the work is in French, so Quebec city really helped me get to the level I needed to excel in my professional field. I did my two last years of law school in Quebec City and my bar school exam there, after which I moved back to Montreal.
I was always exposed to the practice of law from a very young age. My parents owned several residential buildings, and I was always exposed to the tenant/landlord issues. I remember preparing leases with my father, preparing hearings with him, and going to court with him from such a young age. It would be like a fieldtrip for me – I would follow him around a lot, and it turns out he was the one that suggested that I apply to law school. I thought his suggestion was a great idea, and from there I never looked back.
Did you have any mentors in the industry?
Yes. My number one mentor is my business partner Xavier Cormier; we clicked from the moment we spoke – I truly believe everything happens for a reason. I had an internship lined up with a business law firm in Montreal after my bar exam. Two weeks before I started, I was doing some research online and googled “criminal law” and Xavier’s law firm popped up online. I called him and asked if he was looking for interns (out of pure curiosity), to which he responded, “how fast can you get downtown for an interview?”. Thirty minutes later, I was at his office and from there began our ever long partnership. Right after my stage, I opened my own law firm specializing in Family Law, which was then called Vallelonga Avocate Inc while keeping Xavier as a mentor, close partner, and friend.
When did you start Devichy Avocats?
Devichy Avocats was established in May 2018 with our first office opened in Laval, Quebec to now having 13 locations in the province of Quebec. Since Xavier and I were always working in parallel, we decided to merge practices and expand together. This is our biggest success to date. We are currently 33 lawyers ranging from senior to junior lawyers, specializing in every field of law.
What is your biggest challenge since you started on your own?
As any entrepreneur can vouch there are many hurdles and growing pains when venturing off on your own. One of the biggest challenges I faced was time management and having the proper balance between being a mother and lawyer. One month prior to establishing Devichy Avocats, I gave birth to my first child, and I was quickly learning the struggle of motherhood while trying to merge and expand our business. I was operating on very little sleep and being pulled in multiple directions, but the opportunity was now, and it is something I always envisioned. I’ll never forget on the day I gave birth to our second child, I was negotiating a new contract with a lawyer and signing a new lease for our 5th location right after my C-Section; both my husband and my doctor couldn’t believe me and thought I was crazy.
Looking back at all your success, what advice would you give your younger self now?
That everything and anything is possible. I never thought I could be a full-time mom, and partner/co-founder of one of Quebec’s largest family law offices. Today apart from my children, this is my biggest accomplishment, but it didn’t come easy as there were many moments of stress, many problems/hurdles to overcome which I never planned for. But with the right support, and a partner that has the same vision we managed to overcome all curve balls and grow stronger together.
If I could give one piece of advice to my younger self, or anyone looking to start their own business it would be that you need to surround yourself with the right people and learn how to trust/delegate to others. I have my husband to thank for this, as he opened my eyes that I can’t be hands on for everything and to rely on the talented individuals within my team to reach our max potential. For this reason, I am involved in every interview process regardless of the position looking to be filled and have successfully created the “Dream Team” which I consider family and I am SO grateful they have embarked on this journey with us. My moto that I express every day internally: teamwork makes the dream work!
Where do you see the firm going in the next 5 to 10 years?
Considering what we have accomplished in the last 3 years, Xavier and I have set the bar very high for the next 5 years. Our three main objectives are to continuously add professionals and locations to Devichy Avocats, provide opportunities for growth and mentorship for our existing staff and make sure everyone on our team is not missing a thing – we give so much to our staff and it’s so beautiful to see how much love we get back!
Our core competency is to offer the proper work-life balance to our employees, and we do this by offering flexible working hours, encouraging work from home, and understanding that family is just as important as a career; we don’t ask our employees to choose between family time and work time – we assure that both are equally possible. We truly value life outside of work and we believe that it makes for better lawyers and for happier clients.
How do you stay balanced whilst handling being a mom and a managing partner?
Firstly, I absolutely love what I do so I don’t consider it work; my law firm is my third baby! Secondly, as I mentioned before, time management is key in my line of work. My outlook calendar is packed and extremely organized allocating the appropriate family time and work balance. Given how important family time is to me, I make sure to spend the most amount of quality time with my family during the day while making up for lost time at night when the kids are sleeping. We offer this same flexibility to all employees!
Photo Credits – Peter Mac Photography
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