As a partner of a small firm, I am constantly searching for best practices and pieces of wisdom from successful attorneys and business owners. This article provides insight from David Nied, a senior trial practitioner in the solo and small firm space. Below, he shares how he grew his firm; what challenges he, and many solo/small firm attorneys like him, face every day; and why he thinks “truth” can be a great asset to practitioners.
Growing the Firm
David’s firm, Ad Astra, grew from a single attorney to a firm of eight attorneys and five staff within six years. David explained that such growth was organic and the product of continuous networking with other good attorneys. His firm adopted the “Field of Dreams” philosophy: If you build it, they will come. To him, this meant reinvesting profits into workspace and salaries instead of taking money out of the firm.
Handling the Hardest Challenge
According to David, the hardest part of his job is balancing zealous advocacy on behalf of his clients with his duty to provide them with the most objective advice possible—a challenge shared by many solo and small firm practitioners. Sometimes that means telling a client something they don’t want to hear, and then becoming a target for their misplaced frustrations. David handles such challenges by taking the time to explain potential outcomes—good or bad—so that his clients can make the best informed decisions for themselves.
“Find the truth and treat it like a friend”
David received this career advice early in his career from his mentor, Bill Chapman, and he pays it forward to other trial practitioners. The worst thing in the world is to hear the “truth” out of your client’s mouth for the first time at a deposition or on cross-examination. You will be a much better advocate for your client if you seek the truth in the first place.
David Nied, Ad Asta Law Group, is an experienced trial and appellate lawyer who has represented private companies, public entities, and individuals in a wide range of disputes for more than thirty years. He also serves as a mediator, helping parties resolve complex business and employment disputes.
About the author:
Lindsey S. Mignano is a board member of the Barristers Club of the Bar Association of San Francisco. She represents emerging and small businesses in the Bay Area with her firm Smith Shapourian Mignano.