My wife recently reminded me I opened Brown Law seven years ago — October 2010 to be precise.
Man, how things have changed in seven years.
I usually don’t wax nostalgic, but I think this milestone deserves a little reflection.
The Beginning of Brown Law — New Mexico
The Brown Law story started, not in Utah, but in Farmington, New Mexico.
That’s where my wife (Demaree), son (Elliot), and I lived. I worked for a law firm name Miller Stratvert. It was New Mexico’s second largest law firm. We usually worked on insurance defense cases (i.e., we represented insurance companies in injury cases). I hated it. I hated every minute of it. After eighteen months, I was done, so I quit.
When I quit, I remember telling my wife, “Sweetheart, I just made either the best decision of my life, or the worst decision of my life.”
About this same time, Demaree decided she wanted to go back to school and get her doctorate in vocal performance (she sings opera). Her voice teacher had moved from the University of Nebraska to the University of Utah, so the U it was.
The Beginning of Brown Law — Utah
In the summer of 2010, we moved to Salt Lake and lived in a condo in Holladay.
I filed the incorporation documents for Brown Law on the floor of that condo. That’s right, I literally started Brown Law on the floor.
I had no clients. I had no network. The only money I had was the money I loaned myself from our savings.
(Looking back, starting a law firm like that seems like such a bad idea. Oh, who am I kidding? It was a bad idea. And it just happened to work. Go figure.)
I remember working 80+ hours per week for quite a while. During the day, I’d work at Brown Law networking and busting my hump to find clients.
On nights and weekends, I’d work for the company I worked for in college. I made $12.50 per hour. $12.50 per hour as an attorney. That was a truly humbling experience, but that job was a godsend because it let me pay the rent and build Brown Law During the day.
Almost Giving Up
I’d been working on growing the law firm for about six months, and it felt like nothing was happening. Some people had hired me (it was still just me at this point), but no one was paying.
On top of that, Dem was finishing the first year her doctorate, and Elliot would be going in to preschool the next year. I was facing increased costs, more loans, and I had nothing to show for the last six months.
I was about to give up. In fact, I had started applying to jobs at law firms (something I told myself I would never do) and with the government. I seriously contemplated leaving law entirely and doing something else.
I felt really down.
And then, just as I felt the darkness closing in, something happened: everyone paid.
Everyone. At the same time.
I believe in Providence, and this was the hand of Providence. In that moment, I learned that on the other side of fear is nothing. Ultimately, our fears are myths we create for ourselves.
From that time on, we were okay.
Our first office was a place off the 106th south exit.
That set up, while nice, was too expensive when no one was paying, so I moved in to the spare bedroom of our family condo. As you can imagine, working alone in a condo all day long was tough, so I searched for new, more affordable office space.
I found some just down the street with an old criminal defense attorney. The nice part about the set up was (1) it was down the street from our condo, and (2) there was no rent to be paid.
No rent was a beautiful thing, but it turned out to not be the greatest deal. This old attorney ended up getting disbarred (long story), I took over his caseload so his criminal defense clients didn’t get screwed because they had paid someone who (1) had spent all their money, and (2) now couldn’t represent them.
So, I, a divorce attorney, helped these criminal defense clients for months, trials and all.
After some time in the Holladay office, we were growing, so we (i.e., me, Anne, our part-time paralegal, Mario, an attorney) moved to an office on 45th South and 7th East. That location, while not ideal, was a great place for us to grow help our clients.
Anne left us to serve a mission at Temple Square, and we brought on a full-time office manager/paralegal. We also brought on another attorney, McKenzie.
Honestly, lots of what we are today we developed while in the 45th South office. It’s where I mapped out our Divorce Success System and honed our team approach to cases. Those were exciting days filled with creating a real divorce law firm.
After a while on 45th South, we outgrew the office, so we moved to 90th South in Sandy.
This is where we are now. I had them build an extra couple offices so we could expand a little as time goes on.
Sandy is really where we’ve ramped things up. We’ve improved our systems, our template documents, our website, our training.
We’ve introduced education sessions for our clients in Sandy. I won 2015 Utah divorce attorney of the year after moving to the new office.
We’ve added literally hundreds-of-thousands of words to our website. Most of those words are in the form of answers to frequently asked questions about divorce. In addition to people in Utah having their divorce questions answered, we’ve discovered people from all over America use our website as a resource.
This is all part of our plan to provide everyone with the easy-to-find, quality information about divorce and child custody.
Also while in Sandy, after quite a lot of time in development, we started offering our clients flat fees. We’re proud of this since flat fees are better for clients, although flat fees only account for 4% of divorce cases in America. (Lawyers love hourly billing because it benefits them so highly and masks the true cost of cases.)
It’s always difficult to predict the future, but our plan is to serve thousands more Utahans in the years ahead.
We’re likely to add some artificial intelligence to make the process of uploading and calculating financial declarations and other documents easier.
We’ll be adding more offices in major population centers to make it easier for our clients to meet with us. In years to come, we’ll likely expand to states around Utah, all in an effort to help more people succeed during and after divorce.
We’ll make a major move in to videos as a way of sharing information to clients and potential clients. While the written word will always be king, people love video content, so that’s where we’re headed.
And there’s lots more. More education sessions. More training on the latest changes to Utah law. More of everything to help our clients achieve their goals.
Thank you for letting me reminisce about the early days of Brown Law. It’s been a fun (and sometime stressful) ride, and I’d do it all over again if given the chance.
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