Protea Financial was founded in 2014 to provide high quality outsourced bookkeeping and accounting at an affordable price. Given Protea’s flexible work environment, the Company especially appealed to accountants who wanted to re-enter the workforce after taking time off to start a family. This allowed Protea to attract extremely talented individuals who were previously overlooked. Protea strives to represent people from all backgrounds and provide an environment for them to grow and succeed in a setting that provides the flexibility and acceptance of who they are as people.
We selected the name Protea because it is the national flower of South Africa and is a symbol of our connection. The Protea flower has become an ornamental flower because of this striking beauty and is included in arrangements and bouquets as a symbol of courage or daring to be better or a sign of positive transformation.
Protea Conversations in 2022 will focus on positive transformation and representation from all backgrounds. We are broadening our Conversations with the hope that these conversations will continue to create a forum to discuss the experiences, opportunities, and challenges leaders face, and how we can build a more diverse, inclusive, and successful environment for everyone.
In June we have a conversation with Margarita Wear of Maier Law Group. Margarita guides employers in preventing and addressing workplace conflict by conducting workplace investigations, mediations, and trainings, and providing proactive and business savvy advice to employers regarding employment and personnel issues. Margarita’s investigation practice includes both workplace and educational institution (Title IX) investigations. Margarita completed the Association of Workplace Investigators (AWI) Training Institute and is an AWI Certificate Holder (AWI-CH). Margarita’s mediation practice includes both workplace mediations and mediations of civil disputes. Margarita has received mediation training from the Mediation Offices of Steven Rosenberg. She is a mediator for the County of Alameda Day of Court Program.
Before joining Maier Law Group, Margarita worked as general counsel for several hospitality companies, where she counseled the companies regarding employment and labor matters and oversaw Human Resources departments. Margarita’s in-house experience gives her a unique perspective when advising clients, allowing her to give practical and business-minded legal advice. Margarita has also worked at several law firms where she defended companies in the hospitality, retail, financial, real estate, and technology industries in wrongful termination, retaliation, wage and hour, and breach of contract litigation. Margarita is recognized for her ability to achieve great results for her clients, including getting complaints against her clients dismissed and reaching effective compromises.
Outside of the office, Margarita enjoys spending time with her family, going to Giants games, and playing tennis.
Tell us about your decision to become an attorney and your journey from associate to Partner on Maier Law Group?
My grandfather was an attorney and following in his footsteps was always something I considered, but it was also a bit of process of elimination. I’m terrible at math so I knew a job dealing with numbers was out. I took whatever legal classes were offered in college and really enjoyed them. My first job out of college was an admin position at a law firm. I enjoyed that too, but I wanted to be the one writing the briefs and arguing them, so I studied for the LSAT and applied for law school.
Before joining Maier Law Group, I worked at several law firms and held several in-house positions. When I was in-house, my company hired Maier Law Group to conduct a workplace investigation, and I just really enjoyed working with the people at the firm. I know it’s unusual for an attorney to move from an in-house position back to a law firm, but I was getting burnt out from my hours-long daily commute and not being able to spend as much time with my family as I wanted, and Maier Law Group’s emphasis on balance and finding joy in the law really resonated with me. I reached out to my now partner, Diana Maier, and told her that I was interested in joining the firm. Fortunately for me, the feeling was mutual and I joined Maier Law Group as a Senior Counsel. It truly was (and is) the perfect job for me. I think Diana recognized that I felt (and feel) that way and offered me the Partner role because she saw it as a long-term fit as well.
What has been the biggest challenge you have experienced in reaching your current success (personally and professionally)?
It was realizing that in order to achieve professional success in the way it’s defined in law firms, I would not achieve personal success the way I defined it as a wife and mother. The biggest challenge was trying to figure out how achieve both. I was fortunate enough to find a firm and team that values both.
What are your short-term goals of your career and yourself?
Professionally, I’d like to work more strategically and take projects and get clients that are in line with the firm’s long-term goals and vision.
Personally, I’m trying to enjoy the last month I have at home with my four-month old son, before he starts daycare.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received that has helped you in your success?
Progress, not perfection. I’m pretty Type A and I found that in trying to achieve perfection, I would sometimes find myself paralyzed on how to start something or what my next step should be. Focusing on progress rather than perfection removed that paralysis and helped me enjoy and appreciate the smaller achievements on the way to achieving the end goal.
What is the piece of advice that you wished you had gotten when you were starting out?
Be yourself. When I got my first job out of law school, I was a litigation associate and worked with and against mostly men. As a young, Filipina attorney, I felt like I had to act in a certain way to prove that I belonged and was capable. You often hear clients say that they want a “bulldog” attorney representing them in litigation. I’m more collaborative and practical in nature so the “bulldog” attitude never really resonated with me. Plus in my experience, that attitude resulted in every little thing being a fight with the other side, which resulted in more legal costs for my clients. You can be an effective and zealous advocate for your client by using your personal strengths rather than trying to act how you think others want you to act.
What advice you give to others to help them be better leaders?
Don’t lose your compassion just because you reached a leadership role. Treat your employees well.
Can you share something interesting about yourself that will provide insight into who you are outside of the professional space?
I’ve always enjoyed being active, so I enjoy hiking with my husband, 3 kids, and our dog. I grew up playing sports and missed doing something competitive (as I mentioned, I’m Type A), so I picked up tennis as a hobby during the pandemic and I’ve really been enjoying playing.
As a thank you to our interview and Protea’s commitment to more diverse and inclusive leaders, Protea will donate to Positive Images (https://www.posimages.org/). Positive Images is a grassroots nonprofit organization serving Sonoma County since 1990. Their LGBTQIA+ Community Center hosts multiple weekly support groups, a youth leadership development program, mentorship opportunities, an LGBTQIA+ Library, resource and referral station, and a Transformation Station. They proudly offer a warm, welcoming, and affirming environment for young people to explore their individual identities, develop leadership skills, and contribute to our collective community. Positive Images staff lead LGBTQIA+ Cultural Competency Trainings and presentations that educate the greater community focusing on human connection, compassion, and inclusion. Their goal is a community where all LGBTQIA+ people are valued, compassionate community members, creating a just society.
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