Our Clients and Philosophy
About our clients
Rather than trying to impress with flowery language and superlatives about what we do, we will start the story by giving you some specifics about our clients and our practice:
- We work on over 250 estate plans a year, and average nearly 200 new estate planning clients every year.
- In total, we have over 2,000 estate planning clients.
- We help launch over 50 new businesses every year.
- In total, we have over 300 business clients.
- We work on over 30 residential real estate transactions each year.
- Our clients range in net worth from a few thousand dollars to $150,000,000.
- Approximately one-third of the work we do is for clients whose net worth is over $8,000,000.
- Meetings with clients are often conducted out of the office, and occasionally over a beer.
- Our clients range in age from their 20s to their 90s, with most clients falling between 35 and 65.
- Most of our estate plans are done for $1,200 or less.
- Almost all of our new clients find us through existing clients or other professionals.
A FEW GUIDING PRINCIPLES
No matter the task involved, we differentiate ourselves by being:
- personable - we promise meetings will be enjoyable, or at least tolerable;
- accommodating - we will meet you outside of normal business hours, at your office, or at your house, and we won't even judge you if it's messy;
- responsive - we will return calls and respond to emails promptly, and we send drafts out like you ordered them through Amazon Prime;
- transparent - we realize you want to know how much our services will cost and how the process works, so we discuss these things with you upfront, and offer flat fees for most engagements;
- considerate - on hourly engagements, we will never bill you if you want to ask us a quick question via phone or email; and
- value-oriented - we will be hellbent on making sure you get more out of working with us than you thought possible, whether it's by putting you in touch with our clients or contacts who can help you (and be helped by you), or trying to find a way for you to save or make money.
Our Areas of Practice
We've designed our firm around our clients, so that our practice areas are really based on what our clients most often need. Each attorney in the firm then focuses on developing a specific and unique skill set to support our clients so that, rather than each of us being a "Jack of All Trades and a Master of None," we can be masters of one trade and Jacks of a few others (even if you're a master, it's nice to be able to bounce ideas off a Jack who has a complementary knowledge base). The result is that many of our clients never need to work with another firm. When they do, we are able to connect them with the attorney or firm we believe best suits their needs, and we never charge or receive referral fees for doing so.
No matter the area of practice involved, we see the law as a useful tool for our clients, not as an impediment. The law, then, becomes a way to preserve assets, protect yourself and what's (and who's) important to you, and enable your career or business to prosper.
Our clients are typically unwilling to trust something as important as their estate plan to LegalZoom, but also unwilling to pay the high fees charged by attorneys who might focus a bit too much on cufflink collections and not enough on law firm technology and efficiency. The reality is that the actual preparation of documents is fairly straightforward when an attorney knows what he or she is doing and has systems in place that can assist with that process. While we devote significant time and attention to our templates, we realize that our true value is not in our forms. Our value lies in the fact that we prepare over 250 estate plans a year for a broad range of clients experiencing a broad range of issues, and that we can find the best possible solution for your exact situation. You sleep well at night with the peace of mind that your plan was done by an experienced professional, and we sleep well at night knowing that our service and cost-effectiveness is difficult for any firm to match.
The world is a litigious place, especially for professionals and business owners. We can help you determine whether any steps need to be taken to protect your assets, and then help you understand and implement appropriate techniques. As our clients know, a few simple steps can go a long way.
HIGH NET WORTH PLANNING
A number of our clients range in net worth from $15,000,000 to $150,000,000. We offer complex tax planning on a wide variety of acronyms (GRATs, ILITs, SCINs, QPRTs, IDGTS, CLATs, CRTs, family LLCs, etc.) and can use that alphabet soup to turn past successes into lasting legacies. We perform many of these services on a yearly retainer basis so that document preparation is done at a low cost and the planning can be monitored, understood, and fine-tuned.
PROBATE & TRUST ADMINISTRATION
The probate process can be confusing and frustrating, especially when you are already dealing with the loss of a loved one. We have extensive experience helping clients move through the probate process as quickly and cost-effectively as possible. While we always make an effort to be approachable human beings first and lawyers second, this is especially true when we assist clients with probate matters.
Trust administration, even when it occurs outside of the purview of the probate court, is no walk in the park. We help trustees understand their obligations and beneficiaries understand their rights, and we also can help bring change to irrevocable trusts that were intended to address a problem, but over time, have actually become the problem.
An unfortunate truth in estate planning is that even the best laid plans often go awry (credit there to Robert Burns' "To a Mouse"). This often occurs when an executor, trustee, or agent under a Power of Attorney fails to abide by his or her fiduciary duties. Another unfortunate truth is that sometimes susceptible individuals are coerced into signing documents or giving away property. And sometimes, people just commit downright fraud by taking assets or forging documents.
As described above, we devote a considerable amount of our practice, as a whole, to helping clients set up their estate plans and also administer their loved ones' estates or trusts. When issues arise in relation to these matters, we are able to help resolve disputes, and, if necessary, help clients seek redress through litigation.
PROBATE & TRUST disputes
REAL ESTATE DEALS
In many residential real estate transactions, a realtor is well-worth the expense. However, in some situations, individuals wish to proceed without a realtor, or want the unbiased advice of an attorney during the process. We help clients understand and move through the buying process, from the actual structure of the deal through the closing.
For individuals interested in making residential or commercial investments part of their portfolio, we help with the acquisition process, the loan or refinance process, the structure of your lease, and the coordination of the investment as part of your estate plan.
Having the proper legal and tax foundation laid can ultimately determine the success or failure of any new business. We help you with that foundation, and also make sure you have money left to spend on more exciting aspects of your new venture. For the hundreds of businesses we have helped launch, our typical service involves help with organizational documents and name registrations, as well as tax elections.
Once your business is up and running, you will start to face issues with employment agreement, contractor agreements, customer agreements, commercial leases, real estate purchase contracts, and loan documents, to name a few. We can help you understand and negotiate these documents to assure that risk is minimized and your business can thrive. We can also help you if you're an employee or consultant faced with the prospect of entering into any of these agreements.
Occasionally, business relationships or deals fall apart, and disputes arise. Whether we are helping you negotiate a resolution to avoid litigation, or representing you in litigation, we provide effective representation to clients in these matters by focusing on understanding the parties, the issues, and the underlying concerns and motivations, and then applying our knowledge of business laws, our experience resolving disputes, and our ability to apply creative problem-solving.
We help create tax-exempt organizations, whether they be public charities or private foundations, and we also help clients weigh the various planning options to determine what options might be most appropriate. Once the organizations are established, we also assist with tax returns and other required annual filings.
PRIVATE FOUNDATIONS & NON-PROFITS
Whether it's Title VII discrimination claims, sexual harassment lawsuits, or wage and hour disputes, the punishment can cripple a small or mid-sized business, and many businesses who find themselves in hot water had no idea laws were being violated. We can help you review your policies and procedures, and develop up-to-date employee handbooks. We take especially great joy in helping clients develop handbooks, as these documents allow you, as an employer, to communicate wide-ranging expectations, from basic legal compliance to your company's mission statement. When the handbook is complete, you will find your mission and values have been woven seamlessly with our legal knowledge to create a dual-purpose document--one that eagerly and optimistically looks forward, while dutifully and carefully covering your backside.