As I sit here on a blisteringly hot June afternoon, I fondly remember the warm days in Brooklyn in June 2011. We had been in our apartment for about 9 months and were getting used to the routine of dropping our daughter off at the daycare down the street. We spent many evenings at our favorite Syrian restaurant on Court Street, were beginning to enjoy the newly opened Bar Bruno on Henry Street, and found our way to the sushi restaurant on the corner at least once a week (our kitchen was tiny – we went out to eat too much).
After a long eight years in a pretty depressing and toxic workplace, I was on my own and no longer had someone mocking me for leaving the office to go pick up our daughter at the end of the day. With that newfound freedom, when we enjoyed our dinners and talked to the owners of the local restaurants, I could enjoy the discussions and not worry about passive-aggressive emails in my Blackberry. And when the restaurant owners began to ask me legal questions, I could listen and learn about their legal issues. I realized that I no longer had to immediately say “no” to these business owners. I could work with whomever I wanted to.
That month I also took a warm walk across the Gowanus Canal and toured Brooklyn Creative League, the space that would become the home to my law firm for the past 10 years. No longer bound to a long commute to midtown on the subway each morning, my eyes were opened to a fantastic community of small business owners. Rather than overpay for a windowless closet, I immediately joined a vibrant workspace. I learned that although it doesn’t look like a traditional lawyer’s office, my clients appreciated that. Opposing counsel would come to the office for depositions and try to mock it, but their clients seemed fascinated by the atmosphere. The coffee and teas were so good that some clients just liked to stop by for a cup and a chat. Seeing clients being comfortable and enjoying coming to the office reinforced that I had made the right choice.
In the last 10 years, there have been a lot of changes. Our family has grown, I’ve opened offices in New Jersey and now in Minnesota, and sadly, the pandemic has made it much more challenging to travel back to the New York office. But one thing that has remained constant is that I’ve been able to work with clients who reinforce that decision 10 years ago to start my own law firm.
Ten years ago, we started with 3 clients (a restaurant owner, a mother, and an employment agreement negotiation), some business cards, and a laptop computer in the corner of our apartment. Along the way, I’ve learned a lot of lessons, many of them from the clients with who I have worked with.
Growing up, my mother always reminded me of the importance of saying “Thank You” and sending a thank you note. So, I began to think of all the lessons I’ve learned in the past 10 years that I wanted to share with you. And then those started to become a thank you letter. As I worked on the letter, it kept getting longer and longer (my brother would probably tell me that I talk too much…). Then I decided to try and organize it into headings, and the next thing you know, it looks like the very long thank you note that is in your hands right now.
If you don’t read any further, the most important thing I’d like you to take from this is simply,
It’s been an amazing 10 years and I am truly excited to see what the next 10 years brings.