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It’s true, the business of practicing law is changing. And what it means to do a lawyer’s work is changing right along with it. From time to time at Attorney at Work, we tip our hat to one of the many “enterprising lawyers” leading the charge. We find they have a few key things in common: Lots of energy, drive and creativity — and a crazy imagination. Victor Medina imagined Apple technology in the law office some time ago. He continues to fly that banner as organizer-in-chief of MILOfest, the annual conference where Mac-motored lawyers gather to compare notes.
Private client lawyer
Medina Law Group, LLC
Northeastern University Law School, J.D., 2002
Tufts University, Psychology, “In The Year of the Grunge”
When did you know you wanted to be a lawyer? It was when my wife told me that I better get an advanced degree or else everyone would just assume that I was full of crap.
Focus of your law practice? Estate planning, elder law and investment management.
Who was your most important mentor and what did that person teach you? I took over this practice from a retiring attorney. I spent many Friday afternoons with him explaining how I had spent the last week screwing up. I learned that if I want great team members working with me, I need to be willing to spend Friday afternoons helping them.
What about practicing law did you learn the hard way? I learned that my team members don’t zig or zag as quickly as I do. I need to spend time getting them to understand why I’m making a change, and give them a chance to get comfortable with that.
What is your favorite technology tool? I’m known as an Apple guy, so I love all of my devices with Apple logos on them.
What is your favorite non-technology tool? I’m a big fan of my fountain pens, and my collection of notebooks with paper that’s too expensive to rationalize.
How would you describe the location and décor of your office? Our practice deals in death and disability, so we try to make it cozy.
Do you think of yourself as “enterprising”? I think it’s hard to label one’s self as “enterprising,” but I do like thinking up new ideas and implementing them in my practice. I’m very uncomfortable standing still, much to the chagrin of my team members.
What is MILOfest? MILOfest is the country’s only conference dedicated to Mac-using attorneys. We put on a two-and-a-half day conference that is a mixture of technology, practice management and collegiality. It’s my favorite thing to do related to the practice that doesn’t include working with clients.
Where did the idea for MILOfest come from? In short, I wanted to attend a conference that was about technology and practice management, and I didn’t want to pay for it all myself. I figured if I made it interesting enough, people would come and help me pay for a conference. To make it more attractive, we’ve always held it at Disney World in Orlando.
Many lawyers have good ideas, but struggle to bring them to reality. To what do you credit your ability to do this? In all seriousness, this is a really important question. Unfortunately, I don’t have a great answer. I recognize that I “implement” better than most, but I can’t tell you why. I wish I knew how to bottle it so I could teach my kids how to do the same thing.
What is the first thing you “check” each morning? Lately, the first thing I check is my 2 1/2-year-old who’s been screaming my name for at least the last 20 minutes to get out of bed.
Where do you think the practice of law is going? I reject the notion that the practice of law is going to get commoditized over time and driven down to a software-based solution that puts lawyers out of business. I think things are going in the opposite direction. There’s always a market for premium level services, and your job is to explain to clients why they should invest premium dollars in legal services, not make the services worthless like a $5 haircut. The faster we recognize that we should be over-delivering on experience and value, the quicker we will stem the tide of commoditization.
In that context, where are you going? Our firm is unique in that we offer financial services in addition to legal services. The value proposition is a one-stop shop for our clients and their legal and financial needs. I’m moving the practice to a place in which we become an essential adviser for our clients in all the relevant areas of life. If we do this successfully, we will be unique in offering legal, financial and tax advice for our clients under a single roof. The clients to whom we have offered this have been excited about the prospect of integrating all of these services in one trusted place.
What are people most surprised to learn about you? People are most surprised to learn that I spend Wednesday evenings singing for a coed, adult a cappella group. They are second-most surprised to learn that I won’t sing for them after they learned that I do sing.
What do you use every single day that you could actually easily do without? I drink my coffee out of the Mickey Mouse mug I got at my first MILOfest. I could just as easily pour the coffee directly into my mouth from the carafe.
What three things must you always have in your bag, desk drawer or refrigerator? Fountain pen, iPhone Glyph stand and Rhodia notebook (although when my wife finds them all in the refrigerator, it freaks her out).
Where do you turn when things go really badly? I turn over to my left side so I can get the cool side of the pillow.
Victor J. Medina, managing attorney of Medina Law Group, devotes his estate planning practice to passing on more than just financial wealth, but also spiritual, emotional and intellectual values. He is a Past-President of the American Association of Trusts, Estates and Elder Law Attorneys (AATEELA) and organizer-in-chief of MILOfest. Follow him @VictorMedina.
Illustration ©Imagezoo.com. Photos courtesy of Victor Medina.
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