Associate Attorney

Edrie Pfeiffer
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Edrie Pfeiffer, Bankruptcy & Divorce Attorney

This will probably be the longest employment ad that you will see for an attorney position. However, I want to make sure that you are fully informed about the type of position that you would be applying for. I want you to understand what I am looking for and what I expect from the person that I hire. If you believe that this position is a good fit for you, you will find the instructions on how to apply for this position at the end of this information.

SOME BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON ME

I came to law as a second (or third) career after serving in the military and working in management positions. I have been practicing law since 1997 but I worked for a law firm that handled bankruptcies during law school. I guess you could say that I have been handling bankruptcies for longer than I have been a lawyer. One of the first cases that I assisted with was for a middle age couple who had worked hard all their life. They owned their home and were doing well. Then their teenage daughter was found to have a brain tumor. After her medical treatments were over, this couple owed over $200,000 in medical debt and this was after the insurance had paid it’s share. We were able get them out from under this crushing medical debt. Another early case was a young mother who made a really bad choice of her husband. After they were married, he convinced her to open credit cards and even get a car loan for him, all in her name alone. She got pregnant and he took off leaving her with all the debt. Again, we were able to help her get out of this debt through a bankruptcy. Since law school, I have seen how bankruptcy can help individuals get back on track financially.

After working for the same law firm that I started with in law school for a few years, I came to work for my current firm in 2001. At that time, the managing attorney of the firm was looking towards retirement and wanted someone who could take over the practice. Three years after I came on board, we became a partnership and then he retired in 2005. Since that time, I have worked hard to build up my bankruptcy practice. In addition to bankruptcy, my firm also handles uncontested divorces, some estate planning and child custody cases.  Now I find that I am at the point where I want to look towards my own retirement and want an associate who wants to eventually own his or her own practice without having to start from scratch.

At this point in my career, I lead a balanced life. Unless there is something that has to be completed immediately, I normally work from 9 to 5 each day. We do take evening appointments one evening a week and appointments on one Saturday morning a month. I have seven grandchildren and I like to spend time with them. I am also very active in my church and with a local organization that works with at risk or homeless youth and young adults. My husband of over 25 years is semi-retired. He currently keeps the books for the firm and acts as our firm handyman. I believe that work is to support my chosen life style rather than living to work.

Any associate, or staff member, who works for me should be able to have a balanced life as well. Now, don’t expect to be leaving at 5:00 every day initially. You will be expected to work hard just as I have over the years. However, I understand that you have a life outside of the law practice and I expect you to continue to have that life. While you will work hard, you will find that I am also generous in allowing you necessary time off.

Over the past years, I have worked hard to build the reputation of my law firm as being a quality and caring practice in assisting individuals who are going through tough situations. You should visit the testimonial page on my website and see what my clients have to say about my firm. My clients have expressed over and over how caring and compassionate they found everyone here to be. I expect anyone who works for me to demonstrate that same care and compassion.

WHY AM I LOOKING FOR AN ASSOCIATE?

As I stated earlier, I have reached the point in my life where I am thinking about retiring. Now this is not something I have planned for the immediate future but I have no plans to be working full-time into my late sixties and beyond. My vision is to hire a bright young associate who wants to assist in building up a practice so that he or she can take it over one day. In addition, through my marketing efforts, I have reached the point where I can no longer handle the volume of cases by myself and I need an associate.

As we continue to grow the practice, I will need someone who can come in and assist with the lawyer work necessary for these cases. The bulk of our practice is bankruptcy but there will also be some work in other areas, primarily divorce and simple estate planning. I don’t need an experienced attorney as I will teach you everything you need to know about the legal stuff. What I need is someone who has the drive to succeed and is willing to do the work necessary to continue to build the practice.

ARE YOU THE RIGHT CANDIATE FOR THIS JOB?

The first thing that I am looking for is someone who will fit into the firm. My staff normally stays with me for years and I want someone who they will be able to work with for many years to come. Your attitude will be one of the major factors in this decision. I am not looking for someone who just wants a job. I want someone who wants to excel and is willing to do the work necessary to help this firm grow. In addition, we are a small firm so you will be expected to do whatever is needed to get the work done. I have stuffed envelopes, filed documents, answered the phone and even cleaned the bathrooms when needed. I expect the same attitude from anyone who works here. If you are looking for a firm where you are catered to because you are an “attorney”, this is not the job for you. Tell me how you can contribute to the firm in a positive manner.

Of course, you must be licensed to practice law in Virginia. However, I am willing to consider someone taking the bar in July if they are the right candidate. I don’t care where you ranked in your law school class but you must be able to learn quickly. You will need to have decent math skills, the ability to manage your time and have some real world experience. I will teach you everything you need to know about the legal part but you must be willing to learn and follow my way of doing things. We have spent years developing systems that streamline our practice. While we are always open to improving things, we don’t want an individual who thinks that they know more because they did it differently somewhere else.

You must have good communication skills, both verbally and in writing. Many of our clients have very basic education levels and you will need to communicate on their level. It is important that you can take legal issues and translate them into plain English. In addition, you will need to have good listening skills. Sometimes the most important information is obtained by listening to what the client is telling you and how they are saying it. You must also be very organized and able to work efficiently. We are a high volume practice which means you have a limited time with each client. You must be able to use your time effectively.

You must be comfortable with computers. Everything we do is on the computer and we are striving to be a paperless law firm. While we will teach you our software systems, you need to be comfortable in using various applications. You will also need to have some typing skills and attention to details. I don’t have the time to follow behind you and correct your typos. (I have done this in the past and I have no desire to do it again.)

Finally, you must be comfortable working with a wide variety of clients. Our clients come from all walks of life and about the only thing that they have in common is that they are in a stressful situation. You must be able to connect with people and enjoy working with people. If you prefer to work in solitude and only deal with clients over the phone or internet, this is not the job for you. During the course of a day, you may meet with as many as 10 different clients and you have to be able to relate to each one of them.

WHAT IS THE PAY?

The median pay for a bankruptcy attorney nationwide is roughly $60,000. Of course a new attorney will normally start at less than that and the average attorney salary for this area is below the national averages. 

I believe that my employees should be compensated based on the results that they provide to the firm. I have set up a salary structure that provides a decent base salary and allows for bonuses based on the amount of revenue that is being generated for the firm. I had one associate who was able to earn over $15,000 in bonuses in her second year of employment based on the revenue generated for the firm.

WHAT ABOUT BENEFITS?

You will be working in a small firm with client contact almost immediately after you begin. In addition, you will be working to build up the firm for your own benefit instead of having to start from scratch. You will be mentored by an attorney with 2 decades of experience and you will be exposed to a broad network of experienced attorneys, not only in our practice areas but attorneys who are experienced in building law firms. We offer generous time off and flexible hours. You don’t have to keep track of your billable hours. We have a staff that works well together and has fun also. We have a profit sharing plan and a 401K. In addition, I will pay your bar dues after one year and for membership in local and national bankruptcy attorney organizations. I will also cover the cost of your required CLE credits and your malpractice insurance coverage.

WHAT DO I EXPECT FROM AN ASSOCIATE?

I expect someone who is willing to work hard and put in the hours necessary to get the job done. I want someone who is motivated to build this firm and be loyal to it. I don’t want to have to teach someone how to be responsible on the job but I will gladly teach someone how to do the legal work. In other words, I expect a professional who is willing to work and to learn.

HOW TO APPLY

Before you apply for this position, I recommend that you look around the web site to learn more about the firm and what we do. You might also want to contact the US Trustee’s office and any of the Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 trustee’s to get a feel for the reputation that I have.

If you are interested in the this position and you think that you can be a benefit to this firm, then send me cover letter and resume to “Attorney Application, Hampton Roads Legal Services, 372 S. Independence Blvd, Suite 109, Virginia Beach, VA 23452” before April 29, 2016. In your cover letter, tell me why you are the best candidate for this position and what you will bring to the firm.

If you want me to consider you, don’t send me a standard cover letter that is obviously the same one you send for every possible position. I know they tell you to follow up after you send the letter but I am too busy to take phone calls during this selection process so don’t call me, same goes for emails. If I feel, based on your resume and cover letter, that you could be the best candidate for this position, we will contact you to schedule an initial interview.