Thomas Law Office PLC, Fairfax, VA Videos

Videos by Thomas Law Office PLC in Fairfax. Thomas Law represents small businesses and individual consumers in commercial litigation and consumer law matters.

Our first family conference trip of 2024 is in the books.

We had a time at the Old Dominion Bar Association’s Masquerade Ball in Virginia Beach this past weekend.

I’m also happy to share that I have been elected to a second two-year term on the Board of Directors of the Old Dominion Bar Association. What an absolute privilege it is to serve alongside such amazing and inspiring attorneys.

Other Thomas Law Office PLC videos

Our first family conference trip of 2024 is in the books. We had a time at the Old Dominion Bar Association’s Masquerade Ball in Virginia Beach this past weekend. I’m also happy to share that I have been elected to a second two-year term on the Board of Directors of the Old Dominion Bar Association. What an absolute privilege it is to serve alongside such amazing and inspiring attorneys.

Many people overlook the importance of discussing key issues before entering a partnership, especially when it involves friends, family, or lifelong acquaintances. It's crucial to explore potential challenges and ensure alignment in goals and expectations. This can be done through various means, such as seeking advice from business coaches or asking probing questions. Building a business with someone familiar requires a shift in perspective, as personal relationships may not necessarily translate into effective business partnerships. Watch the Episode that I did with Phil Risher of Phlash Consulting where I discuss strategies to stay out of legal issues and protecting your company.

A lot has changed at Thomas Law over the years, but our core values have stayed the same: - We are strategic, pragmatic, and zealous advocates for our clients. - We are not afraid to stand up to bullies, but we’re smart enough to know when to pick our battles. - We are not afraid to speak truth into power, even when it’s uncomfortable. Too many business attorneys think the best way to get results is to be a “bulldog” — aggressive, relentless, unwilling to settle. Our proven track record of success, however, is a result of developing strategies supported by clear, concise, well-reasoned arguments starting with the goal in mind and always keeping our client’s desired outcome in focus. While focusing on these values, the firm has expanded to accommodate more clients, and we have also narrowed down our focus, retaining what we do best while improving our processes and approach. We think it is fitting to have a website that clearly reflects what we have become and our approach, values, commitment, and promise to our clients. Please check out the revamped Thomas law site at: https://thomaslawplc.com

On my quest to continue to push the limits of my comfort zone . . . today I did a thing. I registered for a 2-mile open water swim race in St. Croix in November of this year. Have I ever swam in open water? Nope. Have I ever swam 2 miles? Nope. But if I was to swim in open water for 2 miles, what better place to do than in the 70-degree waters of the Caribbean, right?!? I was talking to my business coach about my big, hairy, audacious goals of 2024. They included the usual . . . grow business, increase profit, recruiting, and then she asked about personal goals. I told her I wanted to do an open water swim race in St. Croix. Her face lit up and I can’t recall exactly what she said, but I left the meeting feeling like I could do it and maybe it wasn’t so farfetched. Which prompted me to sign up for the race. She went on to talk about how it isn’t so much about completing the big, hairy, audacious goals, its more about the behavior changes that take effect when we set the goal, that move us into a routine, and how we start to internalize the qualities we need to succeed. Then how we are drawn to resources and opportunities that support our goal, making seemingly serendipitous connections and aligning our path with our aspirations. I love the movie Jerry Maguire, specifically the “Who’s Coming With Me?” scene, because it always reminds me that sometimes, the most important decisions we make are not based on logic or practicality, but on a gut feeling, hope, prayer, and a belief in something intangible. What are your big, hairy, audacious goals for 2024?

Mediators Background
From your perspective when you've done these mediations, do you want your mediator to have an understanding of the legal issues? Are you looking for attorney mediators? Or are you looking for mediators who maybe aren't attorneys that maybe have certain industry experience? What's the background of the mediators that you're looking for? I'm always looking for mediators that have experience in the area and just a lot of experience in mediations. Probably more so experience in mediations than in our specific area. I think there are some overlap between different practice areas and like I've said before, just because you're a good lawyer doesn't necessarily mean you're a great mediator. I think there are different skill sets and there are people that are great mediators because they are able to actively listen and help parties move past impasse no matter what that impasse is.

NOVABAA 40th Anniversary Celebration
What else needs to be said except, we are almost one week away from what is going to be an epic and unforgettable 40th Anniversary Celebration – The Homecoming. See you at the Salamander!

What might be some of the events that could trigger partners to want to dissolve their business relationship?
What might be some of the events that could trigger partners to want to dissolve their business relationship? Similar to an actual divorce, I believe the number one cause is a communication breakdown or misaligned expectations. This can run the gamut from performance, level of engagement, direction of the company, and business finances. It stems from business partners’ inability to effectively communicate or figure out a way forward that they both can live with concerning the lifeblood of the business.

Optimal Point for Mediation in Disputes
At what point in the dispute do you think mediation is most effective? Is it during the pre-lawsuit phase or once a lawsuit has been filed, and perhaps the parties have conducted some targeted discovery? From my experience, I have conducted mediations at all different phases. We have been involved in mediations before a lawsuit has even been filed. In such cases, we draft a complaint and send it, suggesting that mediation might be a sensible approach. We have had operating agreements that mandate mediation before even considering litigation, before any lawsuit is filed. Another phase for mediation is right after a lawsuit is filed while dispositive motions are pending and during the pre-trial stage. I have even been involved in mediations after a trial while cases were on appeal, and we were able to resolve them at that level. Personally, I believe the most effective timeframe for mediation is when cross-motions for summary judgment are pending, or when a motion to dismiss is being considered, or when there's some other pending decision that will significantly impact the case trajectory. During such uncertain moments, both parties may be more willing to bend a little to reach a mutual resolution because they prefer making a decision outside of having a third party make a decision that they must live with. There is a sense of buy-in, as you get to decide the outcome through mediation rather than relying on an unknown third party to make a decision that deeply affects your interests. At what stage of a case do you think mediation is most effective?

NOVABAA 40th Anniversary
30 days from now, we will all be recovering from all the fun we had at the 40th Anniversary! If You Don't Have FOMO Yet, You Don't Know What You're Missing Out On! For more information, or to purchase tickets: https://lnkd.in/e8J53GGh.

What is Business Divorce?
Can you tell me, from a business perspective, what is meant by a 'business divorce'? What does that mean? What does that look like? Conventionally, it referred to a court-ordered dissolution of an entity through which the parties were conducting business. In my practice, the term often arises when there are two or more business partners or owners who wish to separate from each other or another partner. They usually prefer to handle it outside of the court process to minimize costs and ensure efficiency. Typically, there is some form of adversarial relationship between them or another partner, resulting in an impasse they are trying to overcome in order to go their separate ways. What are some common reasons that lead to a business divorce or separation between partners or owners?

Scaling the Business
You're in the process of scaling up your firm, working long hours, and then comes a point where you realize the need to hire another attorney. Let's go back to that moment. How did you come to that decision, and what emotions were you dealing with as you contemplated it? It's an interesting transition because I have a business coach now and they talk a lot about capacity proceeds growth and those type of principles. Transitioning in this way involves a shift in mindset, particularly when we initially open a firm because we excel as lawyers, right? However, as we expand, we find ourselves spending less time on actual lawyering and more on managing, leadership, and other unfamiliar aspects that we haven't been taught or extensively exposed to. Personally, I went straight from college to law school and then joined a firm. I didn't pursue an MBA, nor did I take any leadership courses throughout my life. My experience in managing people was limited to working alongside co-counsel attorneys and my assistant at the firm. Hiring another lawyer became a steep learning curve for me. I made mistakes in the hiring process, such as selecting the wrong candidates and retaining individuals for longer than necessary. Understanding that growth required me to engage in activities beyond lawyering was a significant shift in mindset. It became evident that in order to succeed in growing the firm, I had to invest time in honing skills related to management and leadership.

Building your book of business
One of the questions I had for you as you're building your book of business is how you're involved in minority organizations. Can you tell me a little bit about how being a minority woman impacted building your firm and making those connections? I have been very involved in the Old Dominion Bar Association, which is Virginia's oldest Black Bar Association, and the Northern Virginia Black Attorneys Association. I'm on the board of the ODBA and have been very involved in NOVABAA over the years. That was another tip that somebody gave me - just go to the Christmas parties. If you do nothing else, just join these organizations and go to the Christmas party. And I was like, "All right." I did that and met so many people who were minority attorneys looking to associate with other minority attorneys and help them build their book of business and mentorship. There have been so many opportunities that have come out of that, and I definitely try to give back to those organizations because they've done so much for me. I think it's a difficult plight for women attorneys and minority attorneys, and when I was in big law, there were no other Black women doing what I did in my office whatsoever. So it's helpful to see other people who are coming up and trying to do business litigation that look like me and being able to extend a helping hand.

One Attorney or Two? What's Best for Business Partners? Do you recommend that each partner should have their own attorney, or can they just go to one attorney and have them take care of everything? They can go to one attorney and create an operating agreement together. It doesn't have to be contentious. We are not talking about a prenup here, it's not that type of agreement, but it does lay out the partners' rights and responsibilities. For example, what happens if someone dies, if the business is dissolved, if someone goes to jail, or if someone wants to leave and get their money back or have their interest. #legaladvice #businesslaw #operatingagreements #businesspartnerships #legalprotection

One Attorney or Two? What's Best for Business Partners?
Do you recommend that each partner should have their own attorney, or can they just go to one attorney and have them take care of everything? They can go to one attorney and create an operating agreement together. It doesn't have to be contentious. We are not talking about a prenup here, it's not that type of agreement, but it does lay out the partners' rights and responsibilities. For example, what happens if someone dies, if the business is dissolved, if someone goes to jail, or if someone wants to leave and get their money back or have their interest bought out. #legaladvice #businesslaw #operatingagreements #businesspartnerships #legalprotection

Burn the Boat
Hey, I want to open my own law firm one day or another type of business, any suggestions as to what they should do first or what they should look out for?" It's funny because I meet so many people on a day-to-day basis and say to them, "You're great at this. You're wonderful. Why don't you just start your own business?" I can't miss an opportunity to sell someone on the idea of being an entrepreneur. I love it so much that I try to encourage anyone who wants to do it to not be so concerned with when and how and getting a dream team together or having a 50-page business plan. There are a few key things to consider, such as finding an accountant that you know and trust, putting together legal documents about what you want your business to look like, and just going for it. That's half the battle, just jumping out there and doing it. I think that people become so engulfed in the details that they miss the big picture sometimes. There is no surefire guidebook that tells you everything you need to know. Even people who go to business school don't feel like they have all the tools they need to start a business. A lot of it has to do with facing fears and taking risks. What motivated you to “burn the boat”?

Specific habits or traits that you feel have helped you in your business or personal life?

I treated my business like a child for a very long time. #lawfirmlife #lawyertips #smalllawfirm #businessadvice #worklifebalance

What do you know now that you wish you had known at the beginning of your career? I've wrestled with this before, and I alluded to it earlier, that I really treated my business like a child for a very long time. I think a lot of business owners do this. However, you can treat it so much like a child that you forget about everything else that's going on around you. Giving relationships as much time and attention as they need is crucial. I think lawyers are particularly prone to doing this. Many attorneys, like myself, go on vacation and take their work with them. They work late into the night and on weekends. I did that for a long time, and I wish I had known the effect that it would have on the relationships in my life. However, I struggle with it because perhaps that was what was required at that time, when launching a new business. I'm not sure if that's the only route I could have taken to get here, but it was how things worked out. While it was helpful for my business, it was detrimental to other aspects of my life. What do you wish you had known at the beginning of your career? #lawpodcast #lawadvice #lawfirmlife #businessadvice

Want to avoid misunderstandings in your business? Get an operating agreement or shareholder agreement. #lawyeradvice #lawyertips #businessadvice

Get an operating agreement or shareholder agreement. They are straightforward documents that allow people to lay out a plan regarding what they expect from each other. It's not a bad idea to have that conversation, regardless of your relationship with the other party. Having a written agreement will bring clarity and avoid misunderstandings, much like a marriage. We often make assumptions about others without realizing it, and a written agreement will help to ensure that everyone is on the same page. For example, it's important to have a clear understanding of the number of hours each person will work, or whether someone will come in on weekends. Having these conversations and getting them written down will help build a strong foundation for your business. In case things don't work out, having a written agreement in place will give you a reference point to turn to. Have you ever had a business partnership that went wrong because of a lack of clarity in expectations? #shareholdersagreement #operatingagreement #lawyeradvice #tipsfromalawyer