Modern Divorce - The Do-Over For A Better You

How a single mom became a divorce attorney

June 13, 2022 Attorney Billie Tarascio Season 4 Episode 14
Modern Divorce - The Do-Over For A Better You
How a single mom became a divorce attorney
Show Notes Transcript

What makes an African American/Latino woman want to become an attorney? Nancy Uko says the attorneys she saw in TV shows convinced her that's what she'd want to be when she grew up. But a marriage that went sour pushed her into the direction of family law, where she learned the necessity of finding someone who could advocate for parents and children.

In this bonus episode of the Modern Divorce Podcast, host Billie Tarascio chats with Nancy about her background, how she fought to dispel imposter syndrome , and why she is one of Modern Law's best attorneys for child custody issues and building new relationships that are stronger than before.

Billie Tarascio: [00:00:00] Hello, it's Billie Tarascio with the Modern Divorce podcast. Back for another getting to know you podcasts. These are some of my very favorite podcasts where we interviewed the attorneys at Modern Law, just so you can get to know them better. And today you're going to be so excited to meet Nancy Yuko, Nancy, welcome to the show.

Nancy Uko: Hello everybody. Thank you, Billie, for having me. 

Billie Tarascio: Yes. Thank you so much for being here. So Nancy, tell me what. 

Nancy Uko: San Diego, California.[00:01:00] 

Billie Tarascio: And why did you leave? 

Nancy Uko: Um, I wanted to go to college somewhere other than where I had spent my entire life. So where did yeah, I got the scholarship to ASU, so, um, ended up going to Arizona state university. 

Billie Tarascio: Fantastic. And then did you go directly to law school . 

Nancy Uko: Um, I took about a year off just to kind of get my bearings and then yeah.

Jumped right into law school. 

Billie Tarascio: Where did you go to law school? 

Nancy Uko: Uh, Arizona summit law school. It was right downtown by the courthouse. 

Billie Tarascio: Nice. Okay. And so what made you decide to go to that? 

Nancy Uko: Um, I knew I wanted to be a lawyer since I was about 12 years old. I watched a lot of legal, uh, sitcoms, and I also read a lot of articles where people had been in falsely imprisoned.

Um, and I just saw a lot of things with the new DNA coming out during that time where a lot of people were getting released. Um, so it wanted me to play a very active role in either generating laws or enforcing [00:02:00] laws or whatever. I had a way I could get into that. 

Billie Tarascio: What do your parents do for work? 

Nancy Uko: Um, my dad does IT. Um, and my mom she's from Mexico. So she does like housekeeping and things like that. 

Billie Tarascio: Is she Mexican? 

Nancy Uko: Yeah. 

Billie Tarascio: I didn't know that. Yeah. So interesting. 

Nancy Uko: She's from Sinaloa. So she only came to America to have me. 

Billie Tarascio: So, so how would you describe your childhood? What was that like with the blend of cultures? 

Nancy Uko: Definitely a blend of cultures.

It was a lot of fun. Um, I laugh now because, um, we grew up on a lot of oldies that I never knew were sang by African-Americans. I thought they were all sung by Hispanic people. So I didn't realize that until I started, um, being around a lot more African-Americans later. 

Billie Tarascio: Okay. So were you raised by your mom and your dad?

Nancy Uko: Um, mostly my mom. 

Billie Tarascio: Okay. So they were split up. 

Nancy Uko: Yes. They've been split since I was three. So I think that's played a big role in me wanting to, um, be active in family law. 

Billie Tarascio: That is so interesting. [00:03:00] Um, we were just talking with Katie. She was also raised by a single mom. It's interesting. Cause you don't need a lot of lawyers who necessarily talk about that.

Nancy Uko: Yeah. Yeah. Um, definitely plays a huge role in, um, coming up and just trying to get over any type of imposter syndrome or anything like that, that you may have from coming from that upbringing. And then, um, it's hush hush around the family law, uh, colleagues. So you always feel like you're forced to kind of, uh, Play this imposter role.


Billie Tarascio: I'm so glad we're doing this because many of our clients feel like that they feel embarrassed. They feel like they need to be in some sort of imposter syndrome, as opposed to just like owning your truth and being fine with it. So I love that you're doing that. And when did you, when did you start to notice that you had this imposter syndrome?

Nancy Uko: Um, I, it was very prevalent in law school because a lot of the people I went to school with their dads were lawyers, their dads were judges and my mom cleaned floors for a living. So, you [00:04:00] know, so I always felt like I was struggling to keep up with them, but, um, that's, that's stated after I became an attorney and was actually able to gain that confidence and, and, and understand my value.

Billie Tarascio: Absolutely. Yeah. I think that is really hard. Many lawyers come from a long line of lawyers and there is something about being a lawyer that does sort of give you an immediate amount of credibility of like, no, I'm I'm good enough. Like I've got this certificate, 

Nancy Uko: I've earned this., 

Billie Tarascio: this, so what made you want to go into family law?

Nancy Uko: Um, well, 

I thought I was originally going to do criminal law. I thought I was going to be the female Johnnie Cochran and there was no plan B, but, um, when I was in law school, I had graduated. I was studying for the bar. I ended up going through my own divorce, which was very ugly, very messy. 

Um, it's a very overwhelming process, just divorce in [00:05:00] itself. And then to be doing it by yourself with little to no knowledge, I had at least law school background, but imagine all the people who don't. Um, and I, if I could alleviate that stress from as many people as possible, then I'm more than happy to do that.

Billie Tarascio: So you were representing yourself in your own divorce. 

Nancy Uko: Yes. Yes. Yes. 

Billie Tarascio: And even though you had a law degree. It was still overwhelming. 

Nancy Uko: So overwhelming, just trying to meet deadlines and making sure that I had filed the right paperwork on the appropriate form.

And you know, it's definitely a lot, um, mentally, emotionally. You know, physically having to show up to every one of those court hearings, it does drain you 

Billie Tarascio: Without a doubt. So after that, did you know you wanted to transition to family law or were you still looking at criminal prem prominently? 

Nancy Uko: Um, well, I was a paralegal prior to becoming an attorney and it has always been in either the family law or the personal injury realm.

So I was already dabbling and I was developing that love for being able to guide people through [00:06:00] that process at that time. 

Billie Tarascio: Got it. Okay. All right. And what do you love most about family law? 

Nancy Uko: Family law, the way I explain it to people it's like being on a Jerry Springer show. There's never a dull moment.

It keeps it interesting for me. I could never do taxes or contracts or anything. That's really a lot of paperwork. I need the excitement in my life. You know, I need to know that I'm fighting for something that I'm passionate about. So I was telling my clients, I'm fighting your case. Like I would my own.

That's what I love about family law. 

Billie Tarascio: I completely agree with you. The variety that we have is unlike other areas of law, which is great because every person and every story is different and special and unique, and requires us to like invest in getting to know them as people, which can be very emotionally draining.

Yes. How do you guard against that? 

Um, well I just try to tell my clients and set their expectations up front. Um, letting them know [00:07:00] that I'm here for them, but in more of a lawyer capacity and not necessarily as a therapist. Um, but I do have to be on the fence with both of those roles. And I just have to keep that in mind, because as a somebody attorney, you have that confidentiality, um, Clause.

Nancy Uko: So they feel like they can confide in you with everything, which is good because some of that information that you get could have really helped you with your case. But it's also, it's also bad because you know, they're spending the money to do that. And you know, you're getting bogged down with, um, trying to decipher which facts are relevant, which facts are not.

So I really just try to set their expectations at first and just say, look, if you need to discuss something with me, I'm happy to do it. But you know, we have to set some boundaries so that it doesn't get overwhelming. 

Billie Tarascio: At this point in your career, what are your favorite types 

of cases? 

Nancy Uko: I love child custody cases. That's definitely my favorite. Um, I, I mean, divorce law, it comes in all different shapes and form. Uh, but when there's children involved, that's when I'm going to try to get in there and do everything that I can to make sure [00:08:00] that I'm acting in the best interest of the child while also trying to fulfill my client's um, desires as well. And I have to admit sometimes they do conflict. Um, but I have to be the one to be able to sort that out before we even get to the judge, because the judge probably knows even less about the case than I do. 

Billie Tarascio: Yeah. Yeah. One of the things that I have found difficult is. In practicing child custody cases, you know, of course, Maricopa county is massive and huge and judges see thousands and thousands of cases.

And so they have a tendency to treat things very formulaic and very much like I've already seen this. I know my outcome. And so fighting for clients who are not like everybody else is challenging. 

Yeah. How have you handled that? 

Nancy Uko: Um, right now my cases have been pretty standard, but I can see issues like that coming up in areas that are not standard for me, such as the pets, you know, the pets is one of the things that my clients come to me and they want me to fight tooth and nail, and the judges are very, to the book with it, very black and white.

[00:09:00] Um, and so they're asking me to pour emotions into something that doesn't have any case law. Providing, you know, what emotions would even be appropriate. So, um, it has been difficult trying to get judges to understand the severity of that. I haven't really had it in child custody cases because we're all working for the best interest of the child, whatever that may end up being.

But with things like pets, it's still, you know, new territory. So I'm having to work with the judges on that. It is very difficult. 

Billie Tarascio: Yeah. And some states have. Uh, statutes about that. So California allows for, for custody of pets. And so I wonder if Arizona will get there or if Arizona will always take this hard line approach of pets are property.

Yeah. Oftentimes people will come up with pet agreements, but they may or may not be enforceable. 

Nancy Uko: Yes, exactly. Exactly. And then, you know, try to explain that to your client who, you know, is adamant about getting fluffy or you know, that they have concerns [00:10:00] for fluffy safety when in the other parent's care. So it's a battle.

Billie Tarascio: What type of activities were you involved in as a child. 

Nancy Uko: Um, I did a lot of like softball. I ran track. Um, I was in the wizard of Oz play. I played a munchkin...

I got involved in a lot of different things. 

Billie Tarascio: Yeah, very cool. Okay. And what do you do for fun? 

Nancy Uko: Uh, now it's mostly working out. I'm trying to do a yoga. I'm a what 36 now. So I've been hearing it's harder to keep the weight down at 40. So just been, trying to get a jumpstart on that so I could still look this beautiful and a couple of years.


Billie Tarascio: that's a good idea. That's a good idea because I have been working out with a trainer and eating super, super clean and. 

I dunno, 

Nancy Uko: It doesn't help that Caitlin brought donuts this morning, right? 

Billie Tarascio: It doesn't it doesn't. I know, but yeah. [00:11:00] So me too. Totally. I try to stay healthy. So what do you do for working out you, you do yoga.

Nancy Uko: What else? Yeah, I do a hip hop, um, fitness. It's like a step. They have that board. Yeah. And you step up and you dance because if it's just purely gym, I have no motivation, no interest. So it's got to have some kind of dance component or some component to it. 

Billie Tarascio: Okay. So you've got some coordination. Yeah, that's good. That's good.

That's the hard part with dances. You gotta be, you gotta be coordinated. 

Definitely. Well, 

we're getting to the end of our show. What are three on usual things about you that you want to share with our audience? 

Nancy Uko: Unusual. That's a interesting term. Ha. Okay. So the three things that I find are pretty unusual about me is that I am one of seven.

Yes. Um, my mom has five girls and two boys and I'm the third oldest, so right. Smack dab in the middle. Always very difficult place to be. But, um, it definitely helped having two [00:12:00] older sisters cause you get to go through their closet. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Um, I mean, they are not so close to me when I steal their stuff out of their closet, but other than that, it's, it's, it's a good relationship.

Um, another thing that's interesting is that I, um, I did, uh, Can see my child, like the first semester of law school. So that entire time I was pregnant, I always joke with people and say, my daughter has already taken some law school classes. She has. Wow. She's definitely, um, born into the, into the field, the law.

So, um, and then the last one is that I'm a relationship coach for the high flyer low after. You know, help people with their divorce. I want to place them in a, in a relationship that works for them and provides them with a healthy and happy outcome, 

Billie Tarascio: a relationship coach. That is so great. I mean, I'm sure you use those skills in lawyering as well.

Nancy Uko: Yes, yes, definitely. They say that [00:13:00] what you're supposed to do kind of finds you. You don't find it, but from being from a divorced family, you know, becoming a divorce attorney, having to have undergone my own divorce, all of that played a role into me deciding to be a. Relationship Specialist. I'm able to now put that out into the world.

Billie Tarascio: I love it. Nancy. Thank you so much for joining us today. It's been fantastic and I know your clients and potential clients are going to love learning more about you. 

Yes. Thank you for your time, Billie. I appreciate it. Thanks.