Featured in Ventura County Star.
Partners: Sam C. Manfredi, Ronald B. Levine, Matthew R. Eccles, Mark F. Miller and Don E. Lanson
Product or service: Legal services
Address: 3262 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Suite 200, Thousand Oaks
Date established: 1980
Hours open: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays
Number of employees: Eight attorneys and five support staff
Person answering this: Ronald B. Levine
What prompted you to start your own business?: Sam Manfredi and I went to law school together and then clerked at various law firms. When I graduated law school, and passed the bar exam, I knew that I wanted to operate my own law firm. Manfredi and I formed our firm with high hopes, high expectations, but few clients and virtually no experience running a law firm. We worked very hard and learned quickly. We added a third partner who had lots of experience, lots of clients, and no desire to manage the firm. Perfect match.
What is your educational and career background?: I have an undergraduate degree in Business Administration-Management, and a law degree. Our law firm started in 1980 and we’ve grown over the years, adding partners and associates as well as support staff. I am the managing partner at our firm, and have been, for the past 12 years.
How much research did you do before starting your own business?: Practically none. After passing the bar exam, I planned to get a job and learn about the practice of law. Just before I was to start my first job I spoke to Sam Manfredi about forming a partnership. Sam had two clients and I had one. We did some quick research and determined that if we formed a partnership, our overhead would cost $1000 per month. Sam suggested that we each put in $3,000, and, “If we’re still here 6 months from now, we’ll keep going.” That was 34 years ago.
What were the most helpful sources, including websites?: People. Without any doubt, the most helpful resources, when we first started, were people. Lawyers, businessmen, friends, family – people, generally older people…who had “been there; had made it, or lost it, and maybe made it again.” We asked a lot of questions, most important, we listened. We got some good advice and some, not so good. But it provided a starting point. Experience is invaluable.
When were you the most discouraged?: I remember the first time I realized a client had lied to me. I was shocked. But I was most discouraged when I would devote time, worry and effort, long weekends away from my family, preparing a case for a client who hadn’t told me “a few important details.” I learned from experience. Sometimes it’s more important to know which client you don’t take.
What company or individual do you admire?: Sam and I reminisce about the big firms – downtown firms – that we were awed by when we first started practicing; and how so many of those firms are no longer around. Vast wealth is often a sign of success. But I admire, truly admire, several attorneys that I know, small partnerships who have practiced, with honor, with integrity, with a true sense of pride in the profession; guiding, counseling, leading and teaching. Those are true successes.
What will make your business stand out from competitors?: We pride ourselves on providing quality legal services for over 34 years. Our firm has a fine reputation – and that reputation was built on many years of “doing the right thing.” We know we could have made more money – but our firm’s philosophy meant advising clients to do what was in their best interest, not ours. We can litigate aggressively with any firm out there – but only if it truly suits our clients’ interests. Otherwise we advise and pursue resolution –if that will best serve the clients. Resolving a dispute that has caused financial and emotional turmoil, and allows a client to “move on” is immensely satisfying.
Who is your target client base?: Our clients are real estate professionals, residential and commercial; business owners who need guidance or assistance in starting, operating, merging, maintaining or selling a business. And the everyday client, who maybe has never had the need to hire a lawyer. It is very fulfilling to help someone who has no experience in the legal arena.