Andrew and Antonia Hays have four children and run their law practice from around the world, from Chicago to Croatia to Costa Rica to Colorado.
Attorneys Andrew and Antonia Hays understand business owners because they are entrepreneurs themselves – partners in life and in business.The couple have four children and, since 2008, have run Hays Firm LLC, a Chicago-based practice that specializes in estate, probate, trust and business law, including restaurant law and obtaining liquor licenses.
“We’re trying to let ourselves be who we are, while having the ability to change and grow,” Andrew Hays said. “Having a business is the best way to do it. We’re not saddled with how someone else wants us to be.”
Antonia added: “There’s always something new that’s happening. It’s wonderful to be manifesting things that lead to far more lucrative opportunities.”
That includes running the company while living on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica from 2015-18. For one week a month, Andrew would return to Chicago, while the rest of the time, he and his family remained in Central America amongst the birds, beaches and colorful jungle while employees would take in-person meetings with clients.
The epiphany for the move came for Andrew when standing at a suburban train station in 2014.
“I saw these people standing next to me in their 60s, and I didn’t want to be someone who was going to be riding a train at their age,” he said. “I wasn’t going to wait until I was their age to do something fun, so we decided to move to Costa Rica. Antonia always goes along with things like that, which is awesome.”
The pair, who also have lived and worked in Antonia’s native Croatia, first met while studying at Loyola University Chicago and reconnected after seeing each other at a friend’s wedding.
Andrew learned the entrepreneurial path from his father, who had his own medical practice and would always tell Andrew and his siblings that owning a business was the one true way to have freedom.
Andrew was head brewer at a Chicago-based brewery from 1999-2002 after graduating college and before starting law school. He clerked and was an attorney at another practice before founding Hays Firm on April Fools’ Day, 2008. His daughter was a 2-year-old at the time, sitting on his lap when he decided to launch his own practice.
Antonia is a first-generation Croatian-American. Her father was a professional soccer player who would have the same job in America for decades. Her mother also had the same occupation in the States for more than 30 years. Antonia, who officially joined Hays Firm in 2010, has learned from her parents’ grit and stability and incorporated those into being a partner in the firm and guiding the Hays family.
“You’ve got to be really flexible and nimble and be open to ideas,” she said. “We’re always tossing around ideas and thoughts about the business. It’s a lot of fun, and I can’t picture my life or being in business with anyone else. It’s a total adventure.”
That’s why, Andrew said, he relates so well to other entrepreneurs.
“We see the bigger picture, like other entrepreneurs,” he said. “We love looking at the end goal rather than trying to plod along inch by inch. We like to improve things and create maximum efficiency in life and in business.”
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