Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Expert Spotlight :: Farris Law PLLC

Valerie Farris isn’t some ‘Made for TV’ attorney. She’s personable, gregarious, funny & well-versed. She creates an environment of comfort – whether over a cocktail or drafting a will – by sharing her knowledge with confidence + clarity.

Oh, and did I mention…She speaks four languages, and is a Seattle University graduate?

Bridetiquette recently caught up with Valerie, to get the inside scoop on how to prepare for the Legal Institution of Marriage.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.......
I was born in Detroit, and moved to Washington State when I was 10. Seattle really is home for me - I’ve lived here for the better part of 14 years, with over half of that time being in West Seattle. My family is very close, so I was raised to value people + relationships above everything else. As a result, one of my strengths, personally + professionally, is to cultivate and build strong relationships.
I’m also a huge Seattle sports fan, love to salsa dance, bake killer brownies + chocolate chip cookies, and simply adore my niece and nephews.

What inspired you to start your business?
I grew up in a small business, always surrounding with the example of ‘sweat equity’ and hard work. I started my law career with a small firm in Seattle, and then began to build my own practice under the umbrella of another. This allowed my own launch to happen with much less stress, as I already had a small client base in place. I started my firm on October 1, 2008, so I’ve been in business for a few months now.

That’s the practical side of things though. The less concrete stuff includes my love for learning new things, and helping clients achieve their goals with a minimum of expense and headache. Having the freedom to get creative and try different things, thinking outside the box and looking for the best client solutions were big motivating factors in my decision to strike out on my own.
The best part is that I’m able to focus my law practice where my passion is: small business owners and their families.

What special services do you offer to newlyweds?
Estate Planning is the main legal service I offer newlyweds.
Most Americans don’t even have a will, but Estate Planning is about much more than that. It covers all sorts of contingencies: what happens if you disappear while traveling, if you become incapacitated or end up in a persistent vegetative state, or if you should pass away.
For newlyweds, getting this taken care from the start clears up the ‘what ifs’ from the beginning. Your wishes are spelled out in black + white, so your spouse and family won’t have to deal with more pressure and stress if the worst does happen.

Here are some tips for those getting married in 2009:
· Talk about your individual financial lives, so you’re well equipped to blend financial + legal lives once you’re married.
· Change the beneficiary names on any insurance policies or retirement plans once married.

What do you bring to your law practice that sets you apart?
My background and absolute commitment to customer service, as well as the small business environment in which I was raised, sets my practice and approach apart. When I decided to start my own firm, I realized that I am my brand. I don’t do anything magical in terms of the nuts + bolts of practicing law.

What sets me apart is how I practice. I don’t bill clients unless I’m actually working directly on your behalf, and I pride myself on keeping clients informed of changing cost projections every step of the way. Most of my work is on a flat-fee basis, which provides clients predictability, and a certain level of control over what their legal needs will cost.

My clients know that an email message or voicemail will nearly always be returned the same day. I inform clients with active cases when I’ll be unavailable for longer than 1 business day, and always have a colleague that clients may contact about urgent matters when I’m out of town.
The bottom line is this…..I communicate with my clients. They walk away from the experience of working with me knowing that they had a GREAT lawyer who cared & was responsive to their legal needs.
It’s not completely altruistic on my part either – happy clients are the best advertising! I receive 80% of my business via word-of-mouth. Superior customer service really does pay for itself.

What price ranges do your services fall into?
This is a tough question, as I customize pricing to fit the needs of each client. My hourly rate is $200, though most of my work is done on a flat-fee basis.
Estate planning for couples ranges from $1400 - $2250, depending on the complexity involved in crafting all the legal documents.

I offer a 30 minute initial consultation, where clients have a chance to meet me, learn about my work style, and discuss fees + payment arrangements.
I encourage people to take advantage of this offer!

Where can we contact you + learn more about your services?
Please visit my website,
My direct email is: valerie {at} farrislawpllc.com, and my direct phone #206.588.2930
Please visit my Biznik profile,
http://www.biznik.com/members/valerie-farris, to learn more about me.
I also have a profile on Linked In + Twitter under the name seattlelawgirl.

Where are you located?
I’m located in West Seattle. I have clients from Edmonds to Federal Way, and will travel to meet clients if there’s an urgent need. We can meet in a formal office, or even a coffeehouse. My clients tend to prefer the more casual, laid-back meeting places!

What inspires you?
I love this question! The answer isn’t simple – so many things inspire me in life and in my work! The beauty of nature is a huge inspiration to me. Hearing peoples’ stories is something that fills me with the desire to do better in my own life. Spending time with my niece and nephews, and the rest of my loved ones. A challenge – I love to take on a serious challenge, so setting lofty goals (like the one I have to run a half marathon in 2009) is a huge motivation for me.
Faith, hope, love, joy – I could keep going, but I’ll leave it at that.
Thanks to Valerie for her candor + great legal advice for all the Brides to Be!


Judy Dunn said...

Wow, such candor. And with an attorney! If anyone has gotten to know Valerie, they see a warm, funny, caring person first. Then they realize that she really knows her "lawyering" as Fred Gwynn's judge character on My Cousin Vinnie would say.

And training for a half-marathon? I would just say to Valerie that I accomplished that some years ago and though the running habit may fall by the wayside, the sense of satisfaction will always stay with you.

Thanks, Sandra for this peek at what makes Valerie tick and thanks, Valerie, for your always sage advice.

Valerie Farris said...

Judy, what a lovely comment - thank you for the many compliments! I didn't know you'd run a half marathon - I can't wait to hear about that next time we see each other!

Sandra - Thanks for a great opportunity to talk to your clients and readers - I can't wait to reciprocate!