Heather Bean | Crain's San Diego

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Heather Bean


Headquartered in San Diego, Tyson & Mendes is one of the West’s largest insurance defense law firms, with offices in California, Arizona, Nevada, Washington and Colorado. Tyson & Mendes recently expanded its Los Angeles office, as well as its retail, restaurant and hospitality practice group with the addition of Heather Bean as a new partner.

The Mistake:

Never saying “no.”

Early on, I spent much of my time buried in the books, focusing on the billable hours and how many files I could work on. I wasn’t taking the time to develop relationships with clients and coworkers because I was spending all my time doing all the other things I was asked to do.

I remember being nine months pregnant with my first child, and pulling an all-nighter writing something one of the partners asked me to write. I was supposed to give birth the following week. I don’t know how I did it. People asked me, “Are you normal?”

I just thought, “It needed to be done, so I did it.”

I later took a step back to ask myself: Where do I want to be in the next five to 10 years, and how do I want to get there? That’s when I decided I couldn’t continue at the rate I was going. I didn’t want to be the last person out of the office every night.

Sometimes, you need to say 'no.'

The Lesson:

Sometimes, you need to say “no.”

I started practicing when I was 22, which was pretty young. I remember people saying, “You can’t be an attorney, you’re too young!” Being a young female, I feel like I had to do more to prove that I knew what I was doing.

It took me a few years, but I eventually realized this: Not being able to do everything people ask of you doesn’t mean you don’t care, or that you’re a bad attorney. You can only do so much.

For me, having kids and a family kind of put that into perspective, and helped me appreciate time management. But it’s also just about balancing your life. I was much happier once I realized that, and followed through. And I had a lot more time to develop relationships with prospective clients.

Photo courtesy of Tyson & Mendes.

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