Legal Leaders Speak: 18 Attorneys Share Insights on Overcoming Daily Challenges and Achieving Firm Success

Simply becoming an attorney and mastering your craft are challenges that most people would consider daunting. Ask any attorney, and they’ll tell you that skirmishes in the courtroom and sparring with opposing counsel are not the only obstacles lawyers have to overcome. Every day, lawyers battle an increasingly competitive job market, client hesitation to spend money on legal services, the need to keep their firm sufficiently staffed, having to learn new technologies, and the constant marketing efforts that go with ensuring a firm’s name and services are recognizable and easy to find.

Given the myriad of daily difficulties lawyers face, we spoke with 17 successful attorneys to learn their top tips for running a thriving firm. We also learned some of the challenges they consider to be the most onerous from both a management and marketing perspective. We discovered what attracted many of them to become a lawyer, how they got started, and what led them to start their firms. One common tip? Make sure your team members and clients feel important and valued.

Alena Klimianok, AWST Lawyers

Arias Sanguinetti Wang Torrijos LLP

Alena Klimianok is a trial attorney at Arias Sanguinetti Wang & Torrijos LLP (ASWT), specializing in medical malpractice and elder abuse. For success in a role like hers, she emphasizes the importance of dedicating ample time to handling cases. She offers a word of caution, stating that trial work is a very intense, high-stress environment, but she also notes that it’s also quite rewarding. As a mother, she is still learning how to balance family and work life, which is a challenge for any lawyer with a family. As a female working in a male-dominated profession, she says it’s important to be yourself, find your style, and not try to copy anybody.

ASWT is a trial lawyers and class action litigation firm that recently spearheaded sexual abuse settlements with USC and UCLA. With offices in Northern California, LA, and Las Vegas, ASWT has primarily tried catastrophic injury cases, and now that Alena has joined the firm, it also offers medical malpractice representation. She notes that the firm gets most of its clients via referrals from other attorneys and doesn’t allocate much energy or expense toward marketing.

Learn more: Alena Klimianok on LinkedIn, Arias Sanguinetti

Steven Lopez, Lopez Law Firm

Lopez Law Firm

Steven Lopez, who founded Lopez Law Firm in early 2021, offers this advice to anyone starting their law firm: develop relationships with other lawyers in the same industry. These relationships are important, he says, because you will have a multitude of questions and all kinds of insecurities and uncertainties, and you need some trusted mentors who can help you when starting your own business and bringing on cases.

Lopez Law Firm is a small personal injury law firm with five employees, including Steven, who has been doing personal injury law since he graduated from Baylor University School of Law in 2012. He started his career with Baron & Budd, a plaintiffs’ law firm, right out of law school, and personal injury law has been his focus ever since. Steven points out that the biggest challenge for a small firm is the rising cost of marketing and advertising. Major firms, he says, are developing their in-house production teams, which can be expensive to keep up with.

Learn more: Steven Lopez on LinkedIn, Lopez Law Firm

Giorgio Panagos, Lawzilla

Lawzilla e1710788682771

Among legal marketing challenges, Giorgio Panagos, Attorney & Co-Founder at Lawzilla, addresses a crucial concern many law firms face: handling numerous cases while staying true to a genuine desire to help people. Despite the importance of marketing for a firm’s success, the abundance of cases can be overwhelming, and some may not align with the firm’s focus. Giorgio’s approach involves connecting clients with suitable lawyers and providing guidance, even if he can’t take on their cases personally. Ultimately, Giorgio aims to promote a client-centered legal practice for mutual benefit.

Lawzilla, founded in May 2022, aims to help law firms manage their caseloads effectively and connect clients with quality representation. Experienced attorneys who understand the challenges of running a law practice created the platform. Their mission is to create a more efficient system, ensuring clients receive the best possible legal assistance while supporting law firms in their workflow. Lawzilla is dedicated to safeguarding people’s legal rights and strives to be a valuable ally in the legal profession.

Learn more: Giorgio Panagos on LinkedIn, Lawzilla

Paul Cannon, Simmons & Fletcher


Paul Cannon, Managing Shareholder & Personal Injury Trial Attorney with Simmons & Fletcher, has unique insights from his experience in Houston’s highly competitive personal injury market. Keeping abreast of ever-evolving marketing trends and strategies is a key hurdle. Being well-informed about emerging social media platforms like TikTok is crucial, as they wield growing influence over consumer behavior. By proactively embracing these novel marketing channels, firms can effectively reach potential clients and retain a competitive edge. In this ever-changing environment, it’s crucial to be creative and flexible. Staying ahead of competitors and providing genuine value to consumers become the cornerstones of success.

Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. Injury & Accident Lawyers, established in 1979, are dedicated personal injury attorneys in Houston, Texas. They focus solely on representing injured victims and have a strong reputation for fighting for justice. Offering free consultations and working on a contingency basis, they ensure no fees unless a recovery is achieved. With a team of three experienced injury lawyers and over 20 skilled legal support staff, they handle various personal injury cases, including auto accidents, medical malpractice, workplace accidents, and more. Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. is a trusted choice for those seeking compassionate and effective legal representation in personal injury matters.

Learn more: Paul Cannon on LinkedIn, Simmons & Fletcher

Eric Gritz, Eric Gritz Law

Eric Gritz Law

Before launching Eric Gritz Law, Eric Gritz often encountered conflicts between employees at his previous firms. He says he would have to sit them down, tell them to act like adults, and address the problems. Now, having founded Eric Gritz Law in January of 2022, he seldom has team conflicts. “I have great staff,” he said, “I don’t have any of my employees do anything that I’m not willing to do myself.”

Eric says he started his career as a medical scientist and was earning his PhD when he realized he didn’t particularly like it, so he worked in construction for several years before a friend encouraged him to apply to law school. He did this, hoping to wind up working with biotechnical firms. However, there was a downturn in the market in the 1980s, so he found employment with a firm that did workers’ compensation. That’s what he still does now—he handles workers’ compensation and Social Security cases.

Learn more: Eric Gritz on LinkedIn, Eric Gritz Law

Justin Gingery, Gingery Hammer & Schneiderman LLP

Gingery Hammer Schneiderman LLP

Among the many things Justin Gingery learned while gaining experience before starting his firm was not to grind your staff to a pulp if you want employee retention to be a part of your firm’s culture. He said micromanagement and the old-school boss mentality are not going to work with young attorneys. They’ll move on to a better opportunity. In fact, Justin started his firm to take ownership of his schedule and set time aside for his kids. To avoid his firm’s team members feeling the same way, he sets a tone of autonomy rather than one where everybody’s being told what to do.

Gingery Hammer & Schneiderman LLP is a team of legal professionals with offices in Roseville and San Diego, CA. Justin, his partners, and their team of personal injury lawyers have decades of combined experience and have obtained millions of dollars for their California-based clients. In 2022, the firm obtained a $15 million judgment in Alameda County in a wrongful death case. In 2023, they secured a $7.5 million settlement for a premises liability/negligence case that resulted in a partial quadriplegic injury.

Learn more: Justin Gingery on LinkedIn, Gingery Hammer & Schneiderman LLP

David Cohan, DC Law Group, PC

DC Law Group PC

Patience. That’s the main thing you’ll need upon starting your law firm, according to David Cohan, because everyone runs to you when there’s a fire. David admits that he launched DC Law Group, possibly due to a lack of patience, especially with red tape. “I don’t like red tape. I want things to move and go fast because that’s how we get our clients’ help,” said David. “It’s a lot of work, but there’s so much good that comes from having your firm and wanting to help people.”

Managing Attorney and Founder of DC Law Group, David Cohan, initially went to law school after receiving what he considered an unfair contract while serving as an audio engineer in the entertainment business. After doing business and tax law, he decided that personal injury law was the most suitable field for him. He says that with the number of accidents in Los Angeles, he enjoys pushing back on liability and fighting for his clients.

Learn more: David Cohan on LinkedIn, DC Law Group, PC

Vahan Yepremyan, Yepremyan Law Firm

Yepremyan Law Firm

Vahan Yepremyan has three pieces of advice that are important for anyone opening or running a law firm. First, assemble the right team, communicate your culture and vision, and give them room for failing, learning, and growing. Next, deliver much more than you promise or pay for – Vahan says he’s never done any advertising or made any guarantees. He prefers to focus on his current clients rather than worry about getting new ones. Finally, when you first meet a client, listen and understand their needs, their vision, how they work, and what their strengths and weaknesses are. Then, he says, you can tailor your services in a way that is most effective for them.

Yepremyan Law Firm has been in business for about 25 years. It started with just Vahan and a paralegal and now has six or seven attorneys, a dozen paralegals, and several assistants and managers. Their focus is on personal injury and business law. Vahan says most of his time, and the time of several of his attorneys, goes toward representing businesses and entrepreneurs from pre-launch through pre-IPO, along with clients in the fashion, restaurant, import, export, and manufacturing industries.

Learn more:Vahan Yepremyan on LinkedIn, Yepremyan Law Firm

Sami Sedghani, Synergist Law

Synergist Law

Having run a relatively small firm since 2020, Sami Sedghani has discovered that hiring the right people is a primary challenge. You often rely on one or two people, and finding, recruiting, and training them can be one of the biggest challenges because they can make or break your business. Once the right people are on board, Sami asserts, you need to show them how grateful you are by how you compensate them, appreciate them, and manage them.

As a personal injury attorney at Synergist Law, Sami points out that he takes on the most challenging cases – the ones other attorneys shy away from. His boutique firm also takes very few cases at a time. Sami strives to make sure that every case that he takes receives his full attention. While some smaller firms often assume a high case volume, Sami says, “I typically don’t exceed 10 cases at a time.”

Learn more:Sami Sedghani on LinkedIn, Synergist Law

John Kirtley, Ferrer Poirot Feller Daniel

Ferrer Poirot Feller Daniel

Over the past 35 years, John Kirtley has litigated multiple types of cases involving every facet of personal injury law, from truck wrecks to car wrecks to product liability cases. From his experience, he’s learned that the number one thing a lawyer has is their reputation and their word. Because of that, two things are required from attorneys: you must do right by your client and maintain a professional ethical attitude toward opposing counsel.

As a trial attorney at Ferrer Poirot Feller Daniel, a firm built on the sole purpose of empowering injured victims and their families, John says his word is his bond, and “that defines a lawyer to a great extent.” He has litigated between 400 and 600 workers’ compensation cases during his career and encourages aspiring attorneys who want to open their firms to learn from a mentor.

Learn more:John Kirtley on LinkedIn, Ferrer Poirot Feller Daniel

Brandon Barnett, Barnett Howard & Williams, PLLC

Barnett Howard Williams PLLC

Like many attorneys who start their firms, Brandon Barnett is a legal expert who finds the challenge of running a firm to be a distraction from practicing law. When they launched their firm, Brandon had been serving in the Marines, and his two partners were both criminal prosecutors, “so none of us were thinking about running a small business.” For them, such things as accounting and taxes, insurance, and rental space had to be learned through experience. Fortunately, Brandon and his partners, Jason Howard and Luke Williams, have developed a dependence and trust in one another, which Brandon says has been the key to their success for over a decade.

That team approach, Brandon asserts, is what differentiates Barnett Howard & Williams from other firms and solo practitioners in the world of criminal defense. They make it clear to their clients that when one of them or the other five attorneys at the firm is retained, their clients can have confidence that the entire team of Texas trial lawyers is fighting for them. Brandon says the legal and emotional support from team members is invaluable.

Learn more: Brandon Barnett, Barnett Howard & Williams, PLLC 

Travis Meltzer, Valley Injury Law

Valley Injury Law

To anyone considering starting their law firm, Travis Meltzer strongly suggests identifying things that you don’t do well or don’t like doing because if you don’t like them, you’re probably not going to do them with any degree of quality or for very long. Once you understand that about yourself, Travis says, you can hire staff to fill in those gaps in your abilities.  

Travis started Valley Injury Law after discovering that he didn’t particularly enjoy serving as a defense attorney for insurance companies. He felt like he was merely “punching the clock on the defense side, where there was no purpose to what I was doing except protecting the insurance companies’ money.” Since he founded Valley Injury Law, Travis says he sleeps better at night as the firm has recovered over $25 million for Arizona accident victims.

Learn more: Travis Meltzer on LinkedIn, Valley Injury Law

Griffin McMillin, Kinder Law PLLC

Kinder Law PLLC

Griffin McMillin comes from a family with many lawyers—his grandfather and uncles are attorneys—and while he considered going in a different direction, he couldn’t resist the opportunity to follow in their footsteps. His passion for helping people led him to his current role as an Associate Lawyer at Kinder Law, a personal injury firm based in Dallas. The key to a firm’s success, he says, is maintaining a good relationship with its clients. “If your clients are happy, they’ll keep coming back,” said Griffin, “and if their friends get injured, your clients will likely refer them to you.”

As a relatively young attorney at Kinder Law, Griffin has found that good mentors and good paralegals are essential for success. A mentor is important, he says, because sometimes you just don’t know what you don’t know. A knowledgeable paralegal is invaluable, according to Griffin, because they’re often relied upon to complete necessary groundwork and occasionally to do initial disclosures. “Having a good staff you can trust is just important,” said Griffin.

Learn more: Griffin McMillin on LinkedIn, Kinder Law PLLC

Daniel Marco, The Law Offices of Daniel J. Marco, PLLC

The Law Offices of Daniel J. Marco PLLC

Daniel Marco does not doubt that attorneys would benefit if they stopped focusing on themselves, stopped focusing on money, and started focusing on their clients. At that point, he says, everything will come together. They can start by treating every client as if they were their only client and treating every problem as if it’s their own. Daniel advises responding to every client’s call within 24 hours and to every email and text upon receiving it. “My clients are always so happy when I text,” he said, noting they express gratitude and disbelief when he returns their call quickly. “That’s what I told them I would do.”

The Law Offices of Daniel J. Marco represents people who have suffered personal physical or psychological injury as a result of negligence, recklessness, or someone else’s fault. Daniel learned client empathy from his father, also an attorney, who told him that “anybody who is in your office, they’re there for the biggest problem in their life at that moment … for them to be sitting in your office, it’s the biggest problem they’ve ever had.”

Learn more: Daniel Marco on LinkedIn, The Law Offices of Daniel J. Marco, PLLC

Kevin Crowley, Tait & Hall

Tait Hall

Kevin Crowley is a Partner and head of the criminal department at Tait & Hall, a full-service law firm based in Phoenix. If there’s one thing Kevin has learned in more than 15 years as an attorney, it’s the importance of being organized. He’s worked at firms that are very organized and others that are more disorganized. When a firm is organized, Kevin says, attorneys can work more efficiently, get more done, and ultimately provide better representation. “The more time you spend dealing with administrative office issues or things like that, trying to figure out what’s going on, the less time you have for your cases.” 

Kevin was inspired to become a lawyer by his mother, who finished her career as a chief staff attorney for the Arizona Supreme Court. He has known Ryan Tait for over a decade, having worked on the same case years ago, where Ryan was a prosecutor and Kevin was a defense attorney. They have remained friends over the years, and Ryan asked Kevin to join his expanding firm in 2022.

Learn more:Kevin Crowley on LinkedIn, Tait & Hall

Anand Patel, Law Office of Anand Patel, LLC

Law Office of Anand Patel LLC

For a solo practitioner, delegation and administration in a law firm can be tremendous challenges, according to Anand Patel, who says he is always finding ways to delegate certain aspects of the administration side of running a practice. While he tries to keep costs low, he emphasizes the importance of making sure his clients feel cared for. Part of that is minimizing their risk and getting back to them promptly. “Clients are humans, and they’re going to feel whether or not you care about them,” he said.

Anand is the Principal Attorney at the Law Office of Anand Patel, based in Cincinnati (also licensed in Kentucky), focusing on Real Estate Law, Business and Corporate Law, and Civil Litigation. Currently, he only accepts clients from existing referral sources and, as a result, doesn’t do much marketing. As a result, he’s been able to focus and, as he said, “do a great job for existing clients, which in and of itself has been very rewarding.”

Learn more: Anand Patel on LinkedIn, Law Office of Anand Patel, LLC

Anna Greenberg, Blizzard Greenberg PLLC

Blizzard Greenberg PLLC

When it comes to successfully running a law firm, Anna Greenberg recommends finding a niche market. The legal market is saturated with lawyers who are constantly advertising to try to beat out the competition and get cases. “It’s competitive in a lot of areas like Houston, and it’s expensive to pay for advertising for cases,” said Anna. “So the thing I’ve found that has been the most helpful is finding a niche market—and for us, that’s been sexual assault cases.

Anna got her start straight out of law school with a personal injury law firm, which is now called Robbins Cloud. She spent about four years working for that firm, working directly with the partners, who gave her a lot of responsibility. She emphasizes the importance, for any new lawyer looking for a job, of “finding a place with lawyers who are willing to kind of show you the way and also let you get your hands dirty.” She then transitioned to working with her father, whom she considers one of the best trial lawyers ever, and “most people in the personal injury field would agree with that.”

Learn more: Anna Greenberg on LinkedIn, Blizzard Greenberg PLLC

Aubry Dameron, Springer & Lyle

Springer Lyle

Aubry Dameron’s advice for running a successful law firm emphasizes the significance of reputation and diligence. She stresses the importance of consistently producing high-quality work supported by solid legal arguments to build credibility within the legal community. By establishing a reputation for reliability and integrity, attorneys can increase their chances of favorable outcomes in court cases. Aubry cautions against taking positions in legal gray areas, as it may lead to a negative reputation that could hinder long-term success. Instead, she advocates for thorough due diligence and adherence to legal principles to maintain a positive professional image.

Aubry took a non-linear path into law, starting as a paralegal before pursuing law school, and eventually joining Springer & Lyle, where she began her legal career. Her experience underscores the firm’s commitment to fostering talent from within and providing a supportive environment for professional development. Springer & Lyle’s dedication to mentorship and guidance is evident in Aubry’s trajectory, emphasizing the importance of attorney mentorship in shaping successful legal careers. Moreover, Aubry’s journey highlights the firm’s ethos of inclusivity and opportunity, offering a pathway for aspiring legal professionals to thrive within the organization.

Learn more: Aubry Dameron on LinkedIn, Springer & Lyle

About the Author
Rafi Arbel
Rafi Arbel is the President and Founder of Market JD, Inc., a Chicago-based digital marketing agency for law firms nationwide. A former litigator who ran his own practice, Mr. Arbel uses his first-hand knowledge of the legal industry to help small and medium-sized law firms enhance their online presence and grow their client base. With more than 20 years of experience in law firm SEO, website building, pay-per-click (PPC) and more, Rafi has earned a reputation as a leader in law firm marketing, providing clients with the kind of personalized service attorneys rarely find with larger agencies.

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