As my mother will readily tell you (and then tell you, and tell you, and tell you some more), I came out of the womb destined to challenge claims that a particular course should be adopted because "that's the way it's always been done." It's not that I lack respect for tradition; I recognize the existence, in most instances, of an interesting history explaining the origin and purpose of a particular tradition, which often grew and evolved over time in response to the ever-changing conditions of our world. But tradition often leads to convention. And convention leads to complacency. And complacency? Well, my first thoughts on complacency require use of several words that likely should appear in a professional blog. At least not the first entry. (No promises for entries months from now.) The best I can manage within the bounds of professionalism is that complacency is a innovation-stifling, progress-impeding, anti-growth, unpleasant and often dangerous way to live. Perhaps a better opening line to this blog would have been "I've never been much for complacency."
My own professional path (zigzag?) is illustrative of my complacency aversion. In 1998, after growing up and going to school in Ohio, acting as a law clerk to the Honorable John M. Manos of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, and working for Squire Sanders in Cleveland, I moved to the Philadelphia area, where I didn't know a soul in the legal community. Many accused me of making an unwise career move, leaving behind all of my contacts and friends in the local legal community, but I had the good fortune of landing at Hangley Aronchick Segal & Pudlin, a top-tier litigation boutique. Hangley was the best possible environment for me to mature into an experienced trial and appellate attorney. I had my first solo trial within six months of joining the firm and, in the years that followed, I was regularly trying complex commercial disputes, patent infringement, business disputes and employment matters before judges and juries. I also had the opportunity to argue several high-profile appeals, including a watershed ERISA case before the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
In 2009, I made the next move that others deemed crazy: I left Hangley -- where, in the interim, I had become shareholder and had been elected to the firm's Board of Directors and Executive Committee -- to join Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check, a nationally-recognized plaintiffs' class-action firm in Radnor, PA. At the time, I had almost no class action experience; that absence, however, was my major push forward: A new challenge. While at Kessler, I principally prosecuted ERISA class-actions, brought on behalf of some of the largest pension plans in the country, against JPMorgan Chase and Bank of New York Mellon for breaches of fiduciary duty committed in connection with large securities lending programs. Over the span of four years, I built and managed a six-person litigation team, successfully fought off the vigorous efforts of several large and well-respected national defense firms, and ultimately resolved those cases -- along with several others -- generating substantial recoveries for the class.
Having accomplished my mission, I left Kessler in early 2013 to spend time with my three children and to contemplate my next adventure. Accusations of an unwise career move again abounded but I knew I needed space to prepare for my next life chapter. While away from the practice, I took time to rediscover many childhood passions. In addition to reading extensively, I began singing with Choral Arts of Southern New Jersey and performed in a semi-professional musical production of "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" at The Broadway Theatre in Pitman, NJ -- my first time on stage since college. It was an amazing year of reflection and personal growth that ultimately led to this moment.
I share this history with you for one simply reason: to explain that I did not lightly decide to open LeVan Law Group LLC. I took the time and space to consider carefully all available options for future opportunities and I enthusiastically chose this path. I am passionately behind this new venture and all that it brings to the legal community. Why?
The practice of law is complacent. It astounds me that the billable-hour remains the conventional economic model for providing legal services in this country, particularly when that system is so destructive to the interests of clients and counsel alike. While the billable-hour model has certain advantages (most, but not all, of which are reaped by counsel), it exacts a heavy price. Among other things, it creates the potential for significant economic conflicts between client and counsel, it promotes inefficiency by providing financial incentives for the protraction and delay of legal proceedings rather than the contrary, and it perpetuates a worldview that an attorney's worth is measured principally, if not entirely, by the amount of time he or she spends on a matter rather than the quality of work or result achieved. In many respects, it's madness.
For more than two decades, I have carried the idea that top-quality litigation and appellate services should be available to clients under flat-fee or other alternative models that differ substantially from the conventional billable-hour framework. LeVan Law Group LLC is the embodiment of that idea. While I recognize that we are not the first firm to offer litigation services on an alternative basis, the use of flat-fees and other non-traditional financial arrangements has, with limited exception, generally been confined to smaller, more commoditized types of litigation matters. At LLG, we seek to take non-traditional fee structures to the next level by making them available in nearly every type of case, regardless of size or complexity. We believe the non-traditional fee arrangements that we offer better align our economic interest with those of the client and help promote the goal of shoulder-to-shoulder teamwork we seek to achieve in each matter. We are in it with you; we have skin in the game. A true member of the team.
Having spent nearly 20 years in the law, I readily understand the reluctance that some prospective clients may have to reexamining their relationship with legal counsel or retaining a new venture such a LeVan Law Group LLC. It's not the conventional choice. If you're comfortable with the status quo, LLG is not your best fit. But if you're one of the many feeling dissatisfied with the economics of the modern legal system, if you're looking for exceptionally talented legal counsel who become members of your team rather than additional sources of irritation, if you're looking for legal counsel who will share financial risk with you -- indeed, if you reject complacency and are willing to move beyond convention -- I ask you to consider LeVan Law Group LLC. I am confident you will not be disappointed.
Welcome to Litigation. Evolved.
(Oh. And Mom? I love you dearly. You may want to skip that second paragraph.)