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

Telephone: 379-1919

Email: info@manfredilevine.com 

Website: http://www.mlem.com 

Number of employees: Eight attorneys and five support staff

Person answering this: Ronald B. Levine

Don E. Lanson (left), Ronald B. Levine, Matthew R. Eccles, Sam C. Manfredi and Mark F. Miller

Don E. Lanson (left), Ronald B. Levine, Matthew R. Eccles, Sam C. Manfredi and Mark F. Miller

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.