Get to know Bongiovi Law Firm! Gina Bongiovi, Managing Partner, launched her business in July of 2008. Coming up on their 10 year anniversary, Bongiovi Law Firm continues to put small business first through hands-on, flexible, and realistic client-based service.
Read on to learn more about Gina and her business, Bongiovi Law Firm:
Which do you prefer: email or phone calls?
Email; I find it’s often challenging to get two schedules to align for a call and playing phone tag should be one of Dante’s circles of hell.
Which do you prefer: coffee-shop meetings or in-office meetings?
In-client-office meetings. I learn so much about a client by being on their turf and meeting their people than I would in my office or at a coffee shop.
Do you have a quote that you reference for motivation or inspiration?
“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
We don’t do much that looks like a traditional law firm or that follows what lawyers “should” do. It works for us.
What does your “perfect” work day look like?
Getting up after a good night’s sleep and go for a run or do an hour of yoga. Head to a client’s office where we chat about new developments in the business and make sure we’re watching for any liability issues while keeping the strategy and mission in mind. Meet with a prospective client and brainstorm ways to maximize their success while minimizing risk. Knock out some conference calls and volunteer meetings in between. Head to happy hour with some friends. Come home and make a great dinner, open a nice bottle of wine, and snuggle with the pups.
Do you have any advice for people wanting to start a small business?
How much time do you have? Probably the most important piece of advice is to do your homework before you pull the trigger on anything. Create a business plan, run your ideas by a CPA, a banker, a lawyer, and an insurance broker. I just met with a new client who trusted some shyster whose disregard for the law could land the business owner in jail. The client had no idea. An ounce of prevention is really worth a pound of cure. It might be expensive to consult with these advisers up front, but will be well worth the money when you start off on the right foot.
What motivated you to create this business?
While studying for my JD/MBA at UNLV, I started my own marketing company and, when the inevitable time came that I needed legal advice, I couldn’t find any law firm whose business model would allow their attorneys to work with small businesses at affordable rates. When I started asking other business owners for attorney referrals, it became clear there was a huge gap in the marketplace for these services, so, at the bottom of the recession, in one of the hardest hit communities, I started a law firm serving one of the most depressed demographics. Nowhere to go from there but up, right?
What does your business specialize in?
We serve as outside general counsel to small and medium-sized businesses. Basically, that means we counsel business owners through all life cycles of their companies, with an aim to help them grow but keep them out of court.
What do you want fellow Metro Chamber members to know about your business?
We tend to be different from most law firms in that we charge flat fees for almost everything we do. Lawyers are trained to be 100% risk-averse, but that’s not practical when you’re running a business. Our attorneys have significant business experience, so our advice allows for taking calculated risks (emphasis on “calculated”) while staying out of trouble.
What are your stand-out highlights since opening your business?
Still being in business ten years later, frequently hearing from referred clients that three, four, or five people they asked all sent them our way, and watching the clients we helped get started still grow and thrive to this day.
What are your stand-out challenges since opening your business?
Educating business owners on the importance of seeking legal advice before a problem arises. Most people meet me and say “whew, I haven’t needed you”, but I’m certain there are issues in their businesses we could identify and address before they become problems.
Helping current clients identify issues they should run by us. We often find that clients will sign contracts or agree to terms without consulting us, even when it wouldn’t cost them any more to do so! As a federal judge friend of mine says, “if you want me at the crash landing, invite me to the take-off.”
Deciding what I want the firm to look like when it grows up.
Where do you see your business 5 years from now?
See answer above. I’ve polled many other attorneys who’ve grown empires to assess whether that’s a direction I want to go. There are positives and negatives to any business model, but I can definitely see adding a few more attorneys and staff to better serve our clients, harnessing technology to keep our rates low, and ensuring we are giving back to the community.
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