“One of the most frustrating things for a business executive is to talk to a lawyer who doesn’t have a clue about what it’s like to be out there in the arena. Well, I have more than a clue. I spent half of my business life there,” says Donald W. Hudspeth, founder of the Law Offices of Donald W. Hudspeth, P.C. “Out there” for his firm can be generally described as dealing with the practical aspects of managing a business enterprise.
The Law Offices of Donald W. Hudspeth has more than 35 years experience in business, business law, commercial litigation, corporate representation, and business formation including start-ups, contracts, franchises, international business, and intellectual property. Local attorneys who practice other areas of the law, such as divorce, estate planning, immigration, seek out the firm for legal services and counsel when a business or business related matter is involved. And, out of state transaction and litigation counsel use the firm when they have a contract or dispute in Arizona.
Local Counsel; Global Business – Helping Business Transitions To and From Arizona
In addition to servicing Arizona business with business law matters, the firm now assists out-of-state and international firms establish business and business relationships within Arizona and assists Arizona firms to do the same out of state and in national and international markets.
More and more business clients and law firms from out of state and out of the country are contacting The Hudspeth Law Firm because they have a transaction in Arizona – they have a plant or facility they want to open here, or they are involved in Arizona litigation. Interstate, national and international organizations realize the need for local counsel to advise and provide answers to complex legal issues. The Hudspeth Law Firm is well-versed in the business law of Arizona for both transactional and litigation matters.
The Arizona business climate also fosters organizations seeking to expand beyond state borders and in many cases beyond national borders. The Hudspeth Law Firm is there to help in that outward movement. Hudspeth says, “Phoenix, Maricopa County, and Arizona are some of the best places in the world to own and grow a business. The Arizona business owner is now becoming an international entrepreneur and the Arizona business executive is going global. We help make this happen. We are local counsel for global business to and from Arizona.”
Organizational Issues and Strategic Partnerships in Government and Finance
Whether the client is local, national or international, Hudspeth says, “We can help with organizational issues. We’ll talk about the entity, operating agreements, money and power considerations, client, employee and vendor contracts, trademarks, lease and real property issues and other business law matters, which we call part of the ‘legal brick house’ or ‘organizational engineering.’
The Hudspeth Law Firm does far more for its business clients through its network of strategic partnerships. The firm has experienced and well-connected advisors who can meet with, advise and represent clients in their dealings with the appropriate government agencies. For the right client this can result in favorable taxation or financial assistance.
In addition to these government advisors, The Hudspeth Law Firm has former high level Wall Street financiers who can advise firm clients on the financial structure of the transaction, introduce the client to the appropriate local banks and bank contacts, and in general bring a high level of knowledge, expertise and credibility to any project. Hudspeth adds, “These kinds of contacts are tremendously valuable, especially to an out of state or international client.”
Business Law for Business Owners and Executives
The challenges the Law Offices of Donald W. Hudspeth faces are varied, but the clientele falls into three basic categories.
“The paradigm client that we built the firm on is the owner or executive of a small or medium sized business (“SMB”). I mean, the ‘Joe the Plumber’ and ‘Kelly the Consultant’ type. He or she may have a construction company, a plumbing company, a paint company, a mortgage company, a realty company, coffee house, franchise, retail store(s), technology company, or similar. Whether these clients are small or large the SMB client has been our traditional client for all these years,” Hudspeth says.
However, in the Great Recession many of these SMB clients were adversely affected, so, firm revenues from these clients plunged. However, Hudspeth says the changing and challenging economic climate led to two new basic types of clients. “One is the major corporate firm whose management said, ‘We have to watch our dollars. We need to have accountability in terms of the amount of time it takes and the money we’re spending on our legal fees.’ So, the firm started picking up a major amount of business that maybe would not have come to us before. And we’ve been able to keep these corporate clients because we have produced good work for them at a price they like. Working for small business was a great training ground for learning corporate accountability.”
Hudspeth says, “The third type of client is the very small firm or start-up company that some law firms might turn away because they don’t have large budgets for legal services. But these very small clients need representation because if they don’t get it they’re just going to get crushed. So, the firm created a ‘Small Matters Division’ where we use talented and precocious mid- and lower- level associates and interns to work on the file.” This approach helps to keep the small client in the litigation case, or deal, long enough to achieve a settlement and more favorable outcome. Often this is the difference between staying in business or not.
“So, now we have these three levels of clients – from the very small to the international. And, as any experienced lawyer knows, it is not the number of zeroes on the file that makes the matter complex. Some small matters can be incredibly complex with novel business and legal issues,” says Hudspeth.
“I Was a Real Person Before I Became a Lawyer”
“I tell people I was a real person before I became a lawyer. I’m joking, of course, but what I mean is that I know what it’s like to not be a lawyer, to need and use a lawyer. I have been on the other side of the desk. I operated my own chain of bars and bar real estate, a chain of mall stores, then served as a chief financial officer for an office furniture manufacturing company before I went to law school. I have more than ten years experience being on the other side of the desk, the executive’s side of the desk, talking to my own lawyers, accountants and advisors about my business. That practical, hands-on business experience is just invaluable. What I know about business is not just from reading books – but I have read a lot of them and taught business law at Arizona State University for five years — it’s from having ‘been there’ and ‘doing that,’” Hudspeth says.
“I can address a client and say, ‘Mr. Executive, I’ve spent half my business career being where you are, being behind a desk like yours talking to people like me about what we are going to do.’ The client realizes that he and I are talking the same language and that I understand not only the law, but also the business perspective. We share a common background of business operational experience and issues. This creates a bond of understanding, caring and empathy which I know would not exist otherwise.”
Hudspeth says he wears two ‘hats’ when meeting with his clients: the lawyer’s hat and the businessperson’s hat. “The ability to wear both the ‘lawyer’s hat’ and the ‘business hat’ is extremely valuable to my business clients,” he adds. “The two perspectives are often at odds – a situation a savvy lawyer must address. Every time I meet with a client I say, ‘Here’s my lawyer’s hat advice. This is what you’re paying me to tell you, so I want to make sure I make these legal points clear.’ But from the practical side, putting on my business hat, I realize the client faces certain practical problems. So now, with the legal and practical points we’ve considered you can make an informed decision,” Hudspeth says.
The “Ability to See,” or Having and Using “The Vision Thing”
“One of my favorite films is “Searching for Bobby Fisher.” The movie is about a child chess prodigy. What I like about the film is Fisher’s ability to see the board without the pieces on it. I call this the ‘ability to see.’ So, a second special thing about The Hudspeth Law Firm is that it looks for lawyers with this ‘ability to see.’ It’s a ‘vision thing’ – being able to see how the deal or the dispute should play out and end from the beginning. It is about knowing the game and possible and probable outcomes before making the first move,” Hudspeth says.
Hudspeth says, “It’s also a natural instinct – knowing what to do instinctively. The Hudspeth Law Firm looks for that talent. You either have it or you don’t. That ability to see, that natural instinct, is huge. In business law matters we have that,”
The Hudspeth Law Firm Business Model: A New Way of Thinking for a New Age
The Hudspeth Law Firm’s business model allows best case outcomes at less cost. Hudspeth explains, “The traditional law firm is based on having a floor of lawyers. The problem with that is you’re paying for the real estate, you’re paying for the salaries, and you use the attorney on the floor rather than the attorney who might be the best attorney for the job. This is counterproductive. So, under our business model we just have ‘core space’ and ‘core attorneys’ on-site, then we use other attorneys with expertise in the area we need: technology prowess, finance, appeals, trademarks, international contracts, etc. The cost to the client is the same, but using the most qualified attorney on an as-needed basis optimizes outcomes and is cost-effective because the model reduces overhead. We have no need or incentive to ‘work the file’ just to cover the cost of rent and attorneys on staff.”
Accountability, Accountability, Accountability
“How do we survive and prosper? In a word: accountability.” Hudspeth credits the firm’s ability to weather the challenging economic times and to continue to prosper and serve local, regional, national and international clients to its focus on accountability. “A business ethos of accountability is a main reason why we got the great firms during the recession. They were looking for somebody who would do the work in a timely manner and at a reasonable cost. When we started out with smaller clients we always had to talk dollars, and cost-benefit. Learning to practice law on a budget was a great training ground for learning accountability to clients,” Hudspeth says.
Firm Philosophy: Caring
“I like to treat people the way I would want to be treated. And I like to leave things better than I found them. The ancient Greeks talked and wrote a lot about the ‘Good Life.’ For me I would like it said: ‘He did some good things. He made the world a little better,’” Hudspeth says.
Whether the client is large or small, moving into Arizona or expanding to national and international markets, the clients of the Law Offices of Donald W. Hudspeth would certainly say the firm continues to make those legal matters far better than when they found them – that they are most definitely being treated the way they want to be treated.
For more information visit, www.AZBUSLAW.com