To help me get in the holiday spirit, I’ve been catching up on my favorite movies. Some might prefer It’s A Wonderful Life or Miracle on 34th Street, but I can’t get enough of It’s a Wonderful Lifetime and ABC Family’s 25 Days of Christmas. Give me a movie where a D-list celebrity overcomes the holiday blues to discover the meaning of Christmas, the joy of love, and the warmth of family, and I am a happy girl.
After 22 days of non-stop Christmas movie watching, I began to think that only in a movie staring Melissa Joan Hart would someone devote her professional career to tackling an issue she had to overcome. Not so.
Earlier this month, Casey Greenfield, known for her personal battle with child support issues, and Scott Labby, a fellow graduate of Yale Law School, formed the firm Greenfield Labby LLP. The firm’s mission is to serve individual clients “with a focus on family and matrimonial practice, strategic planning and crisis management”….
So how did this made-for-TV movie, I mean, law firm, come together? First, combine my favorite ingredients: Yale Law grads (both Greenfield and Labby hold the fancy degree), and Biglaw / Big Business backgrounds (Greenfield is a former Gibson Dunn litigator, and Labby served as Vice President and Special Counsel at D. E. Shaw, one of the world’s largest hedge funds).
Next, add a personal relationship. As explained by Casey Greenfield, the partnership was natural because the pair have known each other for years. “[Labby] did some work for me in the past, and we found that we worked very well together. The idea and process of starting the firm evolved from there.”
Then, throw timing into the mix. As Scott Labby observed, “it’s a cliche, but it’s true enough — a changing market is filled with opportunity, and that’s how we see the legal market these days. The economy has forced people to look at all kinds of things in new ways — their careers, their family finances, what they want from their professional services. We are a new brand, but our model is a tested one: put smart and driven people to work for you. If the economy encouraged people to look for new solutions to their problems, we’re a natural fit.”
Finally, throw in personal experience and passion for the subject matter. Greenfield and Labby do not shy away from the fact that the firm’s focus has very personal meaning for Greenfield. Indeed, the press release announcing the firm’s opening stated that “Greenfield’s unique personal experience as a parent, litigant, and lawyer in the courts gives her an invaluable insight into her clients’ goals and struggles.”
Furthermore, Greenfield herself explains how her personal experience influences and aids her practice in the area of family law: “When I tell clients I know how they feel, I mean it. I’ve been a client; I’ve been a witness. I have experienced the feeling that comes with walking into a courtroom to advocate for my family. This helps me in all kinds of ways, including my communication with clients. Their anxieties are not mysterious to me.”
Labby adds, “Let’s just say that [Greenfield’s] particular breadth of personal and professional experience must be unique in the city, if not the entire country.”
In addition to family law issues, the firm focuses on the diverse needs of individual clients. Per Labby, the firm “manages the most common individual issues people face — divorce and custody issues; routine business and personal disputes; random emergencies — but we also understand how to work through complex business matters and long-term problems. We also provide services to organizational clients, from family offices to literary agencies.”
And the franchise is growing. The firm now has five lawyers in two cities (New York and Boston), with aspirations to add lawyers in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. Interested? Labby has this message for you: “We’d love to hear from ATL readers currently sitting at their desks thinking that if they spend one more year at a big firm they might shrivel up and die, so to those folks: give us a call or send in a résumé.”
In sum, as Greenfield proclaims, “the old ‘do what you love’ adage is true, and I’m a better lawyer for doing the kind of work I’m drawn to naturally.” In other words, stars in Lifetime movies are not the only ones letting passion and experience drive their professional focus. (Even though everything you need to know about life or business can be divined from a Lifetime Christmas movie.)
Personal Becomes Professional—Former Gibson Lawyer Starts Firm [The Careerist]
About Us [Greenfield Labby LLP]
When not writing about small law firms for Above the Law, Valerie Katz (not her real name) works at a small firm in Chicago. You can reach her by email at Valerie.L.Katz@gmail.com and follow her on Twitter at @ValerieLKatz.