In 1987, brothers Maurice and Theodore “Ted” Offit founded a single-office legal practice together in a small suburb outside of Baltimore, Maryland. Shortly thereafter, they were joined by their childhood friend, Howard Kurman. The three men may not have realized it then, but they were already in the process of making history. In the nearly 30 years since, Offit Kurman has developed into one of the region’s fastest-growing and most successful law firms, with over 120 attorneys in multiple locations across the Mid-Atlantic. These days, the firm offers services in virtually every legal area, from commercial litigation to intellectual property to family law and more. How did Maurice, Ted, and Howard build their law firm into what it is today? And how have they been able to remain close partners throughout the years? In this video, our founders admit they never expected the firm’s explosive growth, and provide insight into what distinguishes Offit Kurman from other legal service providers in similar markets.
From the firm’s entrepreneurial focus to its objective measures for success and compensation, learn what factors set us apart by watching the video above or reading the transcript below.
MAURICE OFFICE: We never thought we’d be as large as we are today. At least my wildest imagination, to go from two attorneys to 115 today was never something that I pictured.
THEODORE “TED” OFFIT: We got into business, and like all companies, you’re in a survival mode, so you don’t know where your next client is coming from. You don’t know where your next paycheck is coming from. I remember the days when Maurice and I did everything together, before Howard joined us. Maurice had to do the billing. I couldn’t type, and Maurice could, so when we didn’t have a secretary, Maurice did my typing for me. We would leave work, come home for dinner, meet back at the office three nights a week—Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday—and work. We didn’t have the ability to hire staff, so it was pretty much just the two of us doing everything. But the business vision was survival, and bringing home the paycheck, and trying to find a way to build things, for a long period of time.
Maurice: Offit Kurman is unique in many ways. From the standpoint of paying people objectively for the services that they provide, I think many lawyers have come here looking for fairness in the form of having one compensation system for all. I don’t know of too many other law firms that are like that. The stories we hear from a compensation standpoint, as people go before a compensation committee—they tell their reasons why they should get a large bonus for the year that just ended, and the compensation committee subjectively determines how large a bonus that they will receive. That’s certainly not true at Offit Kurman. I think another reason that we’re different is that the firm has steadily grown from the time it began, and I think people enjoy being at a place that’s growing and dynamic. I know that when we had our Great Recession a few years ago, and many law firms were shedding talent, it was the time for us to go ahead and to bring people on to the firm that could contribute to our success.
HOWARD KURMAN: In addition to what Maurice just said, which I agree with, there are a couple other things that are going on, in my analysis or perspective. One is that while certainly all lawyers are intelligent, for the most part, and they’ve been educated, the legal industry is one that has been steeped in tradition and old ways of thinking for a long, long time. I think one of the things that’s distinguished our firm is that we are willing to change or recognize a law firm as a business, which all law firms are not willing to do. We’ve heard from many attorneys who we’ve interviewed over the years that they come from platforms and environments and law firms where it’s just the same old sort of law firm existence, in theory, for their entire history of the firm. I think that we have been willing to challenge traditional ideas. We’ve been willing to look at different ways of doing business. We’ve hired non-attorneys to be managers in the firm, which is not unique, but it’s certainly not the norm yet in the mid-market firms that we compete with. So, I would say that in addition to the factors that Maurice has articulated, it’s that we are willing to challenge our own thinking, we are willing to change, and we are willing to be entrepreneurial and to recognize that the law is a business. Particularly since 2008, when the Recession hit, the ways of practicing before 2008 and the ways of practicing law and the paradigms that exist after 2008 are much different. That’s one of the reasons that we’ve succeeded: we have been willing to challenge ourselves and change along the way to accommodate the market forces that are at work.
Ted: We have embraced differentiation. It’s something that we pride ourselves on, to differentiate ourselves from other firms in the marketplace. Most firms have believed that growth by acquisition or bilateral affiliation would destroy the culture. Wwe didn’t want to believe that, and we wanted to challenge it, so we are a firm that has differentiated itself through compensation models, through growth plans, through growth models, and we will continue to differentiate ourselves.
Maurice: Every time I tell the story of how the firm started and how it grew to what it’s turned into, it’s an amazing tale. I don’t think there are too many others like us. For more information about Offit Kurman’s
For more information about Offit Kurman’s history, please click here.
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ABOUT OFFIT KURMAN
Offit Kurman is one of the fastest-growing, full-service law firms in the Mid-Atlantic region. With 120 attorneys offering a comprehensive range of services in virtually every legal category, the firm is well positioned to meet the needs of dynamic businesses and the people who own and operate them. Our eight offices serve individual and corporate clients in the Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, and Northern Virginia markets, as well as the Washington DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York City metropolitan areas. At Offit Kurman, we are our clients’ most trusted legal advisors, professionals who help maximize and protect business value and personal wealth. In every interaction, we consistently maintain our clients’ confidence by remaining focused on furthering their objectives and achieving their goals in an efficient manner. Trust, knowledge, confidence—in a partner, that’s perfect.
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