Thank you for 4 great years (and a BIG announcement!)
Greetings, family! I was racking my brain all week for what to write about for this weeks blog post for our firm, when LinkedIn reminded me that I had a work anniversary. Sure enough, it has been FOUR years since I started this venture! We’ve come a long ways, so I decided that I would reminisce a little with you and end this week on a very exciting note!
When I started this firm in October 2011, it was little more than a resume builder while I looked for a “real” job, at a “traditional” firm. Thanks to some kind folks at church, SOTOGAB, Wake Law, and Wake Forest Independent, as well as family and friends who said “hey, can you help me with this?”. First it was a simple contract, traffic ticket or a will, then a probate and a consent parenting agreement; in six months it quickly grew to something I couldn’t do part time AND look for a job – I had to choose. It seemed insane then – straight out of law school with teaching experience and some time in the District Attorney’s office as well as WS/FCS School Attorney’s office, and straight to hanging a shingle?
Our business plan from the start wasn’t conventional – we fit in a niche in the market that is often underutilized (and frequently ignored by experienced attorneys). It is a lot harder (and more stressful) to do reduced retainers, payment plans, and make sure all of the bills get paid. It has been downright scary at times, and it is often intimidating. However, we believed in our cause – there’s a reason that more and more people are representing themselves in the courthouse, because like I’ve told many of you, I don’t know very many people who can afford a $5,000 retainer, much less a $10,000 retainer. According to at least one source, 26% of Americans have NO emergency savings, and 32% only have 3 months worth of savings. If they can’t afford to even put back emergency savings, then coming up with $5k-10k is almost, if not entirely, impossible. When you combine that with rural areas, some of which have less than 10 attorneys in a given county according to a study that I did during law school in 2010-2011, getting a lawyer – much less one you can afford for complex matters such as family law – is very challenging! We set out to change that!
Each and every time I had my doubts – one of you were there to throw me (and eventually my partners) a case, a word of encouragement, or a potential referral! We added my first partners, who eventually moved on to other things; hired our first junior partner (Kimberly), then added new partners (Tate & Stephen) in two new cities (Boone & Mt. Holly) and then our first associate (Sara). Kimberly and Sara have moved on to new opportunities, but each one of us has been impacted greatly by your kindness, encouragement, and trust as we navigated your cases. Each time we had our doubts – maybe we SHOULD go work for “the other guys”, you have been there with more cases and more referrals. Our clients have been faithful in their monthly payments and good to their word, which has enabled us to continue this “low-bono” model (as others call it), and serve those who deserve good representation at a price they can afford.
Four years later, we’re still here. Often times, I can’t believe it. I can’t believe it has been four years, and I can’t believe I still run a firm. We’ve grown from my office in my living room and eventually to our small office in Kernersville … and now..
SO! What’s the BIG news????
This month we had really exciting news on two fronts! First, we hit case #1,000! That means we’ve spoken with hundreds of potential clients on over 1,000 potential matters, ranging from your simple contract to your last minute complex-ED and interstate custody trials. Thank you SO much for placing that trust in us and continue to allow us to serve you.
But that’s not the BIG news. The big news is…
Starting November 1, 2015, we will be located on the second floor of the historic Joyner House in Kernersville!
It is located next door (just over 100 yards from our current office), and will allow us to have more flexible meeting and office space with which to serve our clients! The address for our new space is 408 W. Mountain Street, Kernersville, NC 27284. Our parking lot is entered from Nelson Street.
The Joyner House is a historic home on the corner of West Mountain Street & Nelson Street, and has been restored by it’s owner, local (and fantastic) dentist Amy Jo, who owns Smiles By Design (next door). Click here to read more of the fantastic back story about our new home. We’ll also be joined on the second floor by the Law Offices of Jeffrey F. Hutchins and his lovely assistant.
We’re going to be moving over the next couple weeks, and we’ll probably have a grand opening celebration soon too – stay on the lookout for an invite! In the meantime, please pardon our mess as we transition from our home of the last 3 years at 430 West Mountain Street to our new one at 408 West Mountain Street.
I want to close by thanking a few people. First, to our clients, family and friends, THANK YOU! Your belief in our model – serving people on a reasonable down payment and trusting that they will pay us; treating others the way they would want to be treated; not micro-charging for things such as postage, 3 minute phone calls, and faxes; accepting credit cards; and prompt service – is what has enabled us to continue to grow as we have. Thank you for your trust in our firm and continued business! We are honored you chose us (and continue to choose us) for your legal needs!
Thank you to A.L. (Buddy) Collins, owner of the Law Offices of A.L. Collins, PLLC for being such an outstanding law firm and landlord to us. He and his staff have mentored us over the last three years, assisted us with legal, technical and office issues, and taken such great care of us over the last three years, and we are so grateful for them. Mr. Collins not only serves as a great lawyer and landlord, but he is an integral part of the fabric of education both locally and statewide as a former WS/FCS Board of Education member and now as a member of the State Board of Education. His staff is wonderful – thank you Kim & Whitney for everything!
I’d like to thank my own mentor, Jennifer Payne with Payne & Associates, PLLC, for years of outstanding mentoring, an untold number of emails and phone calls, covering for me in court on days I needed to be in multiple counties simultaneously, and general friendship. Thank you!!!
I’d like to thank Wake Law, particularly former Dean Blake Morant and current Dean Suzanne Reynolds, for their impact on me both legally speaking and as a young adult and for giving me the opportunity for an outstanding legal education at Wake as well as a job upon graduation that gave me the financial foothold to establish my own firm. Thank you to the members and staff of the Wake Forest Bands, who let me hang out with them for a few years before the firm simply grew too much. Especially thanks to the Brothers of the Kappa Zeta chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi for allowing me to help re-colonize you, advise you for a short time, and making me an honorary brother of a wonderful chapter, thank you!
Lastly, I’d like to thank all the folks who have helped us along the way “in-house” – my current partners, Tate Davis for both mentoring me during my time at Legal Aid of North Carolina and continuing today, and Stephen Hegedus for his outstanding ideas on the business, challenging me to work harder and smarter and think outside the box. Thank you to my legal assistant Mary Downing for years of faithful service (she started the same day I did) and her family for their support, referrals and love over the last few years both personally and professionally. Thank you to the former attorneys at Payne Law – Sara Player, Kim Byrd, Chris Ward, for their role in helping build the firm as we grew (even though you’ve all moved on to greener pastures!) Thank you to the interns we had – especially Alex & Grace, who took a chance on us when we still hadn’t done our first major trials yet and really helped out so much along the way. Alex – you’ll be a great lawyer someday – don’t forget us! Thank you to subsequent interns Francis & Carlo, who helped in immeasurable ways along the journey as we continued to grow (both of you are also going to make outstanding attorneys some day. Like I said above, don’t forget us!) Thanks to Mike, our current law clerk and best wishes to him as he studies for the North Carolina Bar Exam (y’all better watch out – he’s going to be doing great things once he gets sworn in locally. He has years of experience and is a fantastic lawyer from Indiana (albeit not licensed in our great State yet).
To anybody I’ve not mentioned but who has had a role in our firm, THANK YOU! From all of us at Payne Law, PLLC, we appreciate you and look forward to continuing to serve the community we live in for years to come!