The primary focus of my representation is small business clients, including working individuals, who require assistance in managing the everyday and extra-ordinary legal issues they encounter. I have specialized experience representing businesses in the hospitality (restaurant and lodging) and employment services (payroll and staffing) industries, and represent a number of trade associations in their litigation, regulatory, leasing, organization and employment needs. As the former Chair of the D.C. Commission on Human Rights and as an experienced representative of employers in employment disputes, I also devote a large portion of my practice to counseling and training managers on employment issues, and to resolving employment disputes for clients of all sizes and industries.Example cases
Schutter v. Herskowitz, 2:07-cv-03823-DS (USDC EDPA) (jury verdict for Plaintiff)
Tally Ho Consignments, Inc v. House Hold, Inc. 2005 CA 2730 (DC Superior)(bench trial verdict for Defendant)
Sarete, Inc. v. U1334 Street Ltd. Partnership, 2000 CA 006345 (DC Superior)(damages trial on remand from Court of Appeals, $3.00 awarded to Plaintiff)
634 G Street SE
Washington DC 20003
An initial consultation is $250, applied against first bill for services if engaged as counsel.
Certain transactional projects, such as new business formations, commercial lease preparation, and commercial collections, are billed at a flat fee. All litigation and most specialty projects are billed at an hourly rate, subject to caps and flat fees for certain projects or phases of projects.
$310, subject to caps and flat fees for certain projects or phases of projects.
Monday through Friday
9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. or by appointment.
Emergency after hours for established clients with pressing needs only.
Working for Fortune 500 companies certainly pays well, but I truly prefer representing smaller businesses where the decision makers are directly affected by every legal issue they encounter and the clients with whom I deal have a personal stake in the outcome of our projects. With respect to the employment practices focus of my practice, everyone who has employees will have employee legal problems, and I like to be in a position where I can help avoid and manage those problems through advance planning, early intervention, and prompt effective defense when needed.
Generally speaking, the more a client knows about the legal issues affecting his or her case, the better that client will understand the pros and cons of settling, litigating, and evaluating that case. The key to making any knowledge of legal issues valuable, though, is the ability to apply that knowledge of the law to the facts of each case and, invariably, each case is different. With respect to general business operations (as opposed to litigation), I spend a great deal of time and effort helping clients to understand and comply with their regulatory and other legal obligations, developing sound employment practices and employee handbooks, assuring proper licensing and registration with proper authorities, and ensuring that contracts with landlords or vendors are sound, enforceable, and make good business sense.
My clients know their businesses better than I ever will, although I do take some pride in spending the time necessary to understand and appreciate their specific needs, challenges and strengths. I much prefer a client to come to me with a strong sense of what he or she wants to accomplish, whether it is manifested in a terms sheet for a transaction, a partially-negotiated contract, or just some ideas scribbled on the back of a menu. I can take the ideas and draft comments and turn them into a legally binding document that will best protect my clients' interests. But it's not my money and not my business at stake. So the more work the client wishes to provide thinking about and negotiating a transaction or contract before coming to me, the more cost-effective it will be for me to do my part of the job.
I am reminded of the quote of Gomez Addams in the motion picture adaptation of The Addams Family (1991): "They say that a man who represents himself in court has a fool for a client. And with God as my witness, I am that fool!"
That said, I often lead educational seminars and legal compliance training programs where the goal and focus is client education and self-help advocacy. Part of every initial consultation is an evaluation of whether any lawyer is needed to address the situation, whether it is yet time to hire a lawyer, and if so, am I the right lawyer for the task at hand. Quite often, I send clients away with a mission to try to resolve their disputes without engaging legal counsel, and only to come back if they have failed or been challenged in court. I serve not so much as a coach as a scout or pre-game analyst. I would never counsel a client to represent itself in litigation; nor do I ever wish for an opposing party to be pro se. The nuance and secret handshake society of the law is - for better or worse - far too laden with traps for the unwary. An experienced litigator always proves a good investment, be it me or someone else.
I began my career as an associate with a major New York law firm, where I gained invaluable experience and made a lot of money. To quote my good friend and mentor of the time: "If you are going to sell out, at least sell out to the highest bidder." Since 1992, I have devoted my efforts to representation of small business and individuals, leading a series of incarnations of a law firm that had my name on the door and up to a dozen other attorneys working for me and with me. Several years ago, I came to the realization that the firm of "Me, Myself and I," enabled by technology and informed by decades of practice and experience, could cost-effectively serve my clients in the best manner possible. It also helps that we never fight about partner compensation structures, although there is occasional dispute as to whether or not a particular client is quite right in the head.
Over the years, I have participated on the board of directors of a number of organizations, for-profit and not-for-profit, and have dealt with hundreds of small businesses in various phases of their inception, growth and (sometimes) demise. Whenever I sit down to write a contract or negotiate a transaction, I am guided by the knowledge and observation of all those cases and controversies that have come before - of what might go wrong down the road and how to guard against it. When something does go wrong and I have to draft a complaint or respond to a lawsuit, that same experience allows me to see what reasonable solutions might be forecast, and to gauge the validity and strengths of my clients' positions.
I try to take the time to learn about each client's business, its unique needs and its key people, so that when problems do arise, I can advise them from an informed and sensitive perspective, proposing solutions and responses that make sense not just from a legal perspective, but also in the reality of the clients' business needs.
Sometimes disputes need to be fought out in the courtroom, but often a philosophy of early intervention and quick response can avert the costly and time-consuming process of dispute resolution. I try to keep my clients attuned to risk areas and potential disputes before they become too great, and to ensure their business practices and policies are defensible in the event we are called upon to so do in court.
I can be tough if I have to, but have found over the years that most legal problems are borne of misunderstanding and misinterpretation, not malice or greed. They are no less in need of resolution, but can often be solved through reasonable dialogue and solid logic better than undirected passion and fury. I view part of my role as advocate to be an ability to judge and properly dispense the appropriate mix of these elements in any business dispute.
Classical and jazz music, travel, fine dining, travel, history, more travel.
* Nolo has confirmed that every member attorney has a valid license and is in good standing with the state agency that licenses lawyers. Any past disbarments and suspensions (with possible exceptions for minor violations or nonpayment of dues, in our discretion) will be indicated accordingly in the badge. Member attorneys are required to notify Nolo immediately if they become the subject of any disciplinary action by any state licensing agency.