I feel a kindred spirit with entrepreneurs, and am compelled to help them navigate the often turbulent waters in the legal landscape of business (a/k/a business disputes).
I left the world of “BigLaw” at larger Manhattan law firms to head over to a medium-sized Long Island-based law firm in the mid-1980s. While I was an associate and then a partner at that firm, I developed an increasing appreciation for who entrepreneurs are, how they thrive or fail, and why they do what they do – what drives them. I learned from them, and saw some of myself in them, although for quite a while, I wasn’t sure whether I had the level of gumption or devil-may-care attitude evident in many. (Note: The law as a career often doesn’t tend to attract those who seek to explore the unknown, ride the roller-coaster of income swings, be lithe and flexible to serve client needs, and create their own paths.)
I left that medium-sized L.I. firm in 2000 to embark on a truly entrepreneurial solo practice, not reliant on any partners, associates, or staff, and not beholden to anyone wanting to compromise my desire to “do it my way,” which included diminishing and ultimately foregoing the more lucrative commercial litigation (court) practice. I committed to myself that regardless of whatever tempting offers might come my way from other lawyers or firms, I would give this experiment at least three years to see whether it would come to fruition. During those first three years, I did indeed receive a surprising number of offers to join or create another law firm, but I held to my commitment and stayed solo. The offers continued during the next 5+ years, but gradually fell off as others got the idea that I wasn’t going to budge – I really liked representing mostly small-to-medium-sized businesses, serving as a neutral Arbitrator and Mediator, and practicing law in my own entrepreneurial way.
I gradually decreased the proportion of commercial litigation in my practice, and increased the amount of business Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR – arbitration and mediation) in my practice, to the point that ten years after going solo, I stopped practicing in court, thereby avoiding what I viewed essentially as a broken system. For the past seven years, I have devoted my practice exclusively to business ADR (as a business dispute resolution lawyer representing parties in arbitration and mediation, a business Arbitrator and Mediator, an ADR Law consultant, and a trainer of new Arbitrators and Mediators), which is particularly well-suited to a law practice focusing on entrepreneurial businesses.
I always say that business ADR provides fast, fair, flexible, expert, economical, private, customized justice. Having my own practice, and not being subject to the differing interests of law partners, allows me to apply ADR to the best advantage of my clients. I may make less money on each case, but I have more happy clients, which in turn leads to great referrals and a more diverse portfolio of cases, following the notion of avoiding having all of one’s eggs in one basket. So, what’s good for my clients turns out to be good for me as well (in what Voltaire might characterize as “this best of all possible worlds”).