Robin Perrigo-Mermans loves to learn. She’s spent time as everything from a marketing professional to a stationary business owner to a land appraiser (and a mom!), learning lessons all along the way. But arguably her most important lesson came during an unusual time: her divorce.
She and her then-husband spent thousands of dollars and months of emotional turmoil during a process she describes as “tumultuous and adversarial.” And the worst part? The pain and frustration were wholly unnecessary.
“If we had known about an alternative divorce model called ‘collaborative divorce,’ things might have been different” Robin says. “In a collaborative divorce, both parties agree to settle the case out of court with no threat of litigation. For this reason, a collaborative divorce attorney is a great alternative to the traditional divorce model.”
Using everything she’d learned during the exhausting, expensive process, Robin opened up ROAD to RESOLUTION as a non-attorney mediator in 2011. She later enrolled in law school (remember, she loves to learn) and passed both the North and South Carolina state bars to better serve her clients. Since then, she’s helped countless couples and families avoid the experience she had.
We sent Robin 20 questions to find out more about her journey. Here’s what she had to say:
- As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a veterinarian, which is comical because my friends make fun of me for not being a “dog person.”
- What was your first job?
I started babysitting when I was 12. I have a sister who is four years older, so when she aged out of babysitting I was the natural backup.
- How many jobs have you had, and about how long have you spent at each?
I am old so this could take a while. My first “real job” was in NYC working for a marketing subsidiary of Young & Rubicam (Y & R) Advertising. I stayed with them for about four years and then went to work for GMR Marketing, doing similar marketing work. I was with GMR for about four years until I had my first child, Ellie. My full-time job for the next six years was ‘Mom,’ however, during this time I started a stationery business, All Great Occasions. Around 2005 I was considering investing in commercial real estate, so I took classes at a local community college and ended up with a commercial real estate appraising license (I love to learn :).
Around 2007, a commercial real estate appraising firm called Bidencope & Associates hired me to work as an independent contractor appraising land involved in eminent domain. It was there that I fell in love with the law.
In 2009, when I knew divorce was likely on the horizon, I took a job with a Fortune 100 company working as a compliance officer in their legal department. In January 2011, once my divorce was finalized, I started ROAD to RESOLUTION as a non-attorney mediator.
- How many years has it taken you to get to where you are today?
A lifetime! See above. I would not be in the type of law I am in without my life experience. I feel as though my divorce gave me the chance to find my life’s purpose.
- What advice would you give to someone on their career journey?
Be passionate about what you do.
- What’s one of the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome (or even just walk away from)?
The desire to do everything myself. I genuinely care about my clients and their experience with our firm. Every time they interact with us, I want to make sure it’s a positive experience and that we not only meet but exceed their expectations. I’ve had to learn to let go and trust that I have hired the right people who know how important this is to me.
- What’s the number one mistake you think women in business make?
Not believing in themselves.
- How do you start and/or end your workday every day?
I start every day with some form of exercise, most often yoga. I end my workday cleaning out my inbox and identifying my “to-dos” for the following day.
- What’s the highlight of your business?
Witnessing my clients grow and find strength and courage through the process. I tell all my clients when they walk in the door that they will get to the other side and find happiness again. My favorite calls are when they call me to tell me they found happiness again.
- What’s been the low point of your journey?
Hands down, working for a large corporation. The company I worked for fostered a toxic work environment. I witnessed employees escorted out the door with a small cardboard box of their personal items after 20-plus years of working for the company. This happened not because there was wrongdoing, but because it was policy. Where is the compassion in that? I care too much about people to work in that type of environment.
- Do you have a 5-year plan for your business?
Yes! My goal is to become the go-to firm for collaborative divorces in Charlotte.
- Are you able to mentor other women professionally? If so, how?
I am working on that now!
- What’s the best (in-person or virtual) local networking option?
For a collaborative divorce attorney, I would say the Charlotte Collaborative Divorce Professionals events are the best. I have not done many virtual events because, frankly, I am Zoomed out.
- What is your company (or your industry) doing RIGHT when it comes to women in the workplace?
I find there are an equal amount (if not more) of female divorce attorneys in Charlotte. Female attorneys are very well-represented, so the industry recognizes the importance of females in the profession. I have two staff members, one male and one female. I look for experience, personality and character when hiring an employee.
- How can women support one another professionally, either as coworkers or peers in similar positions?
I would love to see a world where everyone (men and women) trusted each other and assumed positive intent when dealing with coworkers or peers in similar positions. When I am working with another attorney on a case, trust is paramount. If I can not trust the other party, the process is far more arduous.
- What pandemic change in your business will you keep going forward?
Business casual attire! I used to wear a dress or suit and heels to work every day. Unless I am going to court or mediation, I decided to relegate those clothes to the back of my closet and seek more comfortable attire.
- What else do you want others to know about yourself, your company or your journey?
I majored in elementary education in college, went into marketing, and am now a lawyer. It’s never too late to do what you love. Life and careers are not linear, embrace the journey and follow your intuition. That little voice inside your head is telling your head what your heart already knows, give it the space and grace it deserves.
- Where’s your favorite place to meet for a working coffee or drinks?
My all-time favorite was Bruegger’s bagels on East Boulevard, but since that closed, Starbucks on Providence (next to Laurel Market) is my go-to coffee spot. For after-work drinks, I love Napa on Providence.
- Where’s your favorite place to go to dinner (and what do you order?)
Kid Cashew on East. Grilled octopus and the avocado Ceasar salad are my go-to’s. I also love their salmon dish!
- (Pre-pandemic or if you had your way!) WFH or head into the office?
Office, office, office! During the pandemic, I continued to come to the office because we are an essential business. ROAD to RESOLUTION is in an old house and my office is the former sunroom. I am surrounded by windows, natural light and lots of greenery. It’s my oasis…
Robin’s love of learning has taken her on an ever-changing path through life, but she’s found her true calling at ROAD to RESOLUTION. Find out more about the services she and her team offer here.
ROAD to RESOLUTION Divorce Mediation & Collaborative Family Law
is a non-adversarial law practice. Attorney-Mediator Robin Perrigo works with families outside of court to settle their matters through collaborative divorce, mediation, and private agreements.
ROAD to RESOLUTION
224 S. Caswell Road
Office: (980) 260-1600
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