About Solange

When attorney and new author Solange Ritchie isn’t practicing law, you can usually find her penning her next legal thriller. Solange’s first psychological thriller, The Burning Man, featuring FBI forensic pathologist, Dr. Catherine (“Cat”) Powers will hit book stores on September 15, 2015. Published by Morgan James Publishing, The Burning Man promises to have you on the edge of your seat from the first page.

Born in the beautiful tropical island of Jamaica of a Jamaican father and a French mother, Solange immigrated to the US at age 11. Since then, she has been a dynamic force for change. Fed up with thrillers that start with a fizzle and longing to see more power women as lead characters, Solange decided to create her own characters. Despite the demands of a busy legal career with her husband, Steve Young, she accomplished her ambitious goal by rising each morning to write before work, dedicating her weekends to writing and even spending her vacation time writing.

Words have always been Solange’s passion. Now so, more than ever.

Solange has achieved a successful writing career while working hand in hand with her husband doing “last minute trials” mostly in Southern California. Dubbed “the Case Saver,” Solange does the “heavy lifting,” handling intense legal motions that either make or break a case, especially in business, labor and employment law areas. Once the cases get beyond that point, they either settle or they go to trial. Her husband, Steve, has successfully defended and prosecuted over 175 jury trials, many times against huge firms, with amazing multi-million dollar results. So Solange and Steve make the perfect one two punch. With a Bachelor in Telecommunications BA from the University of Florida, Solange’s passion for writing has always been clear.

Solange just learned that she is to receive the State Bar of California’s Solo and Small Firm Section’s highest award, the Myer J. Sankary Attorney of the Year Award for 2014.  The award will be presented at the State Bar convention in San Diego on Sept. 12, 2014.  Only one attorney is selected for this honor each year. The Myer J. Sankary Attorney of the Year Award is presented to an individual who has exercised notable leadership or contributed to the development of greater justice in a field of law. The award is presented annually to an individual who is a sole practitioner or a member of a small firm and who has devoted years of faithful service and leadership to the community or his or her fellow attorneys. To be eligible, the individual must be a member of the Solo and Small Firm Section of the State Bar of California.

One of 11,000 plus graduates of Western State University College of Law, Solange was recently inducted into the Western State University College of Law Alumni Hall of Fame. While in law school, Solange rose through the law review ranks to become Editor In Chief, while working full time as a paralegal. When people told her it couldn’t be done, she did it anyway. Solange has always been tenacious. Her personal motto is “Don’t quit and never surrender.”

When Solange was just 37 years old, her first husband died due to gross medical negligence at a Southern California hospital. That life-altering experience helped shape her to the person she is today. She began writing creatively as a way to deal with the stress of his hospitalization and his death.

With a passion for philanthropic work (stemming from growing up with an older brother with Down’s Syndrome and John’s death), Solange serves on numerous charities and legal boards, including The California Women Lawyers Association, The Orange County Bar Association, The Orange County Women Lawyers Association, The Orange County Trial lawyers Association, The Community Court’s Foundation and El Viento.

Solange’s magazine articles are too numerous to list. They include Employers’ Liability for Punitive Damages: The California Supreme Court Defines “Managing Agent” Under California Civil Code Section 3294(b) (2003), Consumer Protection: The Trend Towards Finding Unconscionability in Arbitration Agreements (2007), Finding the Smoking Gun: A Hands-on Guide to Dealing with Electronic Discovery (2007), Can You Bet With a Sicilian When Death Is On the Line? What’s New and Hot in Anti- SLAPP (2010) and The Case Against Dispositive Motions in Limine Part 1 and 2 (2011 and 2012). Solange’s other articles and her legal presentations can be found at her legal website – www.solangeritchielaw.com.

She regularly publishes and speaks to both attorneys and law students on areas such as punitive damages, civil procedure, diversity and gender equality, and finding fulfillment and balance in the busy practice of law. Solange lives in the Southern California area where she shares a house with her husband and two dogs who are the true masters of the house. She enjoys traveling, writing, Pilates and yoga, as well as good food and great conversation.

RECENT BLOG POSTS

Women Attorneys of Michelman and Robinson (WAMR)

the WAMR Hammer

The Women Attorneys of Michelman and Robinson, LLP (WAMR) present Solange Ritchie the WAMR Hammer in appreciation for serving as a guest speaker. January 28, 2015.

Solange recently spoke live in Orange County and via video conference in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco about writing and character development for her novels. She was presented with this stunning award by the Women Attorneys of Michelman and Robinson (WAMR).  Solange wants to thanks all who attended both live and via video.  It was so exciting to speak to like-minded attorneys who enjoy writing, story telling and share a little of her own story about how her writing career began and has now taken off. It was also very rewarding to hear from many of the female attorneys that they could really connect with her lead character, Dr. Catherine Power’s struggles as a power woman in her career and her role as a mother.  They loved the cover and Solange provided 2 chapters of the final edit on the novel. Many told her that they wanted more to read.  So thanks to the Mona, her fellow lady lawyers (and a few gents) at Michelman & Robinson for the opportunity and this award. One additional item, the breakfast talk was videoed and they promised to send it to Solange When she gets it, she will post it on this blog.  Hope everyone has a great weekend.

The Burning Man Book Cover

The Burning Man cover

Hot off the presses. Here it is! The cover for The Burning Man to be released later this year.  (E-books in late spring early summer and hardcover to hit bookstores August/September if all goes as planned). I promise that this psyche thriller featuring lead character, FBI agent/forensic pathologist, Dr. Catherine Powers, will have you flipping though the pages from the very first paragraph until the surprise ending.

And Morgan James is eagerly awaiting final edited version of the second thriller in the Dr. Catherine Powers series called Back Burn. In this novel, she will face off against a serial arsonist/firefighter who is intent to watch southern California burn as the strong Santa Ana winds gust.

KEYS TO LIVING A PURPOSE DRIVEN SELF-ACTUALIZED LIFE

How many of us feel like we go though life without purpose? I know many parents got kids back to school this week. So you probably feel more drained this week than most.

So many people go to work each day and repeat the same patterns for years. This leads to physical exhaustion, a mental lack of clarity and a sense of emptiness.

How many times do we wake up in the morning and realize we have a choice each day.

We have a choice to live life with happiness and gratefulness. Or we have a choice to live life filled with complaints, “drama” and unhappiness.

I know which of these I do each day.

Do you?

Do you bring happiness to those around you?

Do you live life with gratitude, joy and purpose?

If not, here are some ways to get there.

1. Identify your core values:

Your core values are the things that are the most important to you in your life. These tend to be very different for everyone and range anywhere from health to family to contribution, etc. Take a piece of paper are write down 10 core values. Just dump them out at first. Don’t over think them and don’t judge them. Then, list them by priority. For many of us, family is first, but it is an individual exercise. No right or wrong answers. No judging what you wrote down.

2. Figure out where you are:

Once you have figured out your core values, you can ask yourself if whether what you are doing in your life right now gets you closer to or farther away from living in alignment with those core values. For example, if your core value is family, but you do nothing to reach out to your loved ones on a daily basis and tell them they are loved, then you are probably not working from a place of alignment. In addition, if your top core value is freedom but you are tied down to a 9:00-5:00 job, could it be time to reevaluate your path? Do you want to start a business? Do you want to change your line of work? Do you want to do more charitable work? Figuring out whether you are near or far from your core values in your daily actions will get you moving in the direction of your dreams.

3. Make an action plan:

As a fulfilled full time attorney, passionate philanthropist, lecturer and soon to be published novelist, people always ask me how do I find the time to do it all. The answer for me is simple. I live my life with passion and with a plan. Now I am not here to tell you that at the end of the week, I am not tired. God knows, some weeks, I just want to go home on a Friday night, put my feet up and have a glass of wine and forget the week.

But having a goal and an action plan helps make the week something I can look back on and feel like I accomplished something. A goal and action plan can take you from being a dreamer of great things to being a doer of great things.

If you have decided that you don’t feel aligned where you are right now, make an action plan that will help transport you to where you want to go.

First, make one master statement. This statement will combine your top three core values into one sentence. Then, break that statement into three separate goals.

Here is an example: Statement – I am an inspirational speaker, life coach, and author. Goals – 1. It is January 1, 2015 and I have scheduled one speaking engagement per month. 2. It is January 1, 2015 and I am coaching 10 clients per week. 3. It is January 1, 2015 and my book has been published. These goals will start moving your life in the direction of your purpose.

Once you have identified these goals and committed them to paper, list ten action steps you need to take under each goal. For example, if we pick goal 1 above, the action steps may be: Reach out to local organizations to procure speaking engagements; reach out to corporate wellness programs; create flyers to hand out at events and local businesses; create a newsletter of potential attendees for seminars, etc.

These action steps will bring you clarity on what you need to do to live a purposeful life. This exercise takes your thoughts surrounding purpose and makes them more tangible so you can begin to see them come to life. So you can do what you need to actually accomplish them.

Dreams are just that – dreams. Dreamers are just that – dreamers.

But by following the steps above and taking action to make your dreams a reality, you will find “A Purpose Driven Self Actualized Life.”

 

10 THINGS LAWYERS CAN LEARN FROM WRITERS AND VISA VERSA

As writers and/or lawyers, what practical pointers can make us better at our craft? After all, we are artists telling a story. What can make those stories better? Read on…

1. Put in the necessary hours.
To be a competent lawyer, it has been said that one must practice over 10,000. The same is true of writers. Three novels minimum to learn pacing, story, plot, narrative voice, foreshadowing. etc. Only then do you develop core competence. Now some of us like Steven King or Dean Koontz are natural innate story tellers. Bot most of us aren’t that lucky. So put the time in.

2. Be a professional and be disciplined.
Steve and I have been lucky to have cases referred to us by opposing counsel after a case is over. Why? Because you never get personal and unprofessional. Being a zealous advocate does not mean you get to a jerk to the opposing attorney or their client. You will sleep better at night if you adopt this one item and live by it.

3. Start with a good hook.
Talking to prospective jurors during a mini-opening statement, what can you say that will help the jurors identify with your client? A good jury is not a pissed off jury. They want satisfaction, just as a reader of fiction or non-fiction does. Your don’t want their pity. You want to empower them to feel that the case and your client are important. You want to appeal to their sense of justice.

4. Pacing is everything. Tone and tempo mean a lot too.
Think about how you are going to tell your story. Start with the injured employee on the witness stand first? Maybe the jury will feel manipulated if your do. A better approach might be to start with the employer’s testimony first. Lock them into their story. Then put the terminated employee on the stand. Use that testimony and e-mails or whatever to show how/why the employer’s story could not be true. Far more effective because you are creating a sense of conflict and tension.

5. Patience is a virtue.
As lawyers and writers, we tend to want to hurry. Time is money. Hurry the judge to make a ruling. Hurry the witness to answer your questions. Hurry the process of writing. But good writing and good ideas cannot be rushed. They are like fine wine. Sometimes, they need time to develop and ferment in the oak barrels we call our brain to be anything worth sharing.

6 (a). Perry Mason moments are for Perry Mason.
In my experience, they simply don’t happen. Enough said.

6 (b). Listen, listen listen.
So many times I see lawyers so locked into an outline of questions that they do not hear the witness’s answer which is gold for their case. I writer must listen to what the character is saying. What would the character say if you were there stream of consciousness. Some of my best writing happens this wasy.

7. Don’t forget to breathe.
Just as good tense writing needs comic relief, so does good lawyering. Sometimes, if you mess up in front of a jury, the best thing you can do is own it and laugh it off. You are human after all. You are just like your jurors – you just happened to go to law school and pass the bar exam and they didn’t. So forget the legal ease and legal words. Speak to jurors in plain English. Don’t talk to them like you are their superior. You are not.

8. Prepare, prepare, prepare.
Your witness, your plot, your story. This is a representation of you. Do you want it to be adequate? Or do you want it to be great? Don’t write a half-assed query letter. Don’t do a half-assed deposition preparation. It will show.

9. Take them on the journey with you.
Whether it is in a courtroom or in a novel, the power of descriptive words and human imagination are your friends. Carry the jurors or your readers with you as you speak. They want to be entertained. They want to go with you to where ever you want to take them. (See more on this below).

10. Never forget – it’s not about you.
It’s about your client, if you are a lawyer. It is about your characters and reader satisfaction, if you are a writer.

Even if you represent companies, there is a way to draw a story. I represented a tea company in Federal patent litigation. I thought, how am I going to make this company something the jurors can relate to? Instead of talking about the company, I talked about its founder, as a young man in India, picking tea leaves with his father in the fields, the morning air soft around them as they moved among the greenery. I talked about how much the boy cherished these times. I talked about him learning about something that would become his life’s passion, tea. I painted a picture for the jury. I took them on a journey of a young man, who eventually immigrated to the US and started this company from scratch. By the time I was done, it was not a company. The company had morphed into something more powerful. A boy and his journey in life.

I hope these items provide help and insight. I know just writing them out make me a better lawyer and a better writer.