Owner of employment law and False Claims Act practice speaks on the importance
of business acumen in running a law firm.
Our Deputy General Counsel, Kelly Anthony, Esq., recently sat down with Adam for a one-on-one interview on what helped his firm grow, what inspired him to start his own legal practice, financing their firm with Counsel Financial and advice on starting your own practice.
This is the first installment of our new monthly series. Read what he had to say...
Adam Augustine Carter began his legal career as a Washington D.C.-based litigator in 1991. After years of employment as a law firm associate, he bravely ventured into the world of business owner—first by opening his own solo practice and then, in 2003, by becoming a Principal of The Employment Law Group, P.C. (TELG). TELG has established itself as a leader in representing plaintiffs in employment law and relators in False Claims Act cases.
What do you think helped TELG grow initially?
Besides results and great client service, one of the unique features of TELG is our name. No one needs to ask what we do—they already know it from the name. In 2003, it was so forward-thinking of our Managing Principal Scott Oswald to have a firm name that described the kind of lawyers we are.
Do you believe that has contributed the most to the firm’s success?
TELG’s name certainly did not hurt. However, there is so much pressure when you are a lawyer—that you need to be both a great lawyer and a great businessman or business woman. A lot of our success is because of Scott. He is not only one of the finest trial lawyers of his generation, but on top of that, he is a fantastic businessman. He has made excellent choices all along. I give him 100% of the credit of our success.
Did you have a business background?
My dad and one brother are both entrepreneurs, and when I was a teenager I had my own business with my brother.
I also gained sales experience working in admissions for my high school, Portsmouth Abbey, and prior to law school, I worked for a year selling advertising for my father’s trade magazine on public transportation, called “Mass Transit.”
I knew I wanted to be a lawyer from the age of 12 on, but I never expected that I would have to be both a lawyer and an entrepreneur.
What prompted TELG to do business with Counsel Financial?
We were in Florida at the National Trial Lawyers’ conference, and Joe DiNardo from Counsel Financial was speaking. He looked at the audience and said: “Do you have a line of credit but need a lender that understands how your banking needs are different from other businesses?”
I was sitting in the front row and turned around to look at Scott, who was sitting a few rows back. We were borrowing from a commercial bank at the time, and we were looking for an alternative lender that might better understand our unique business model. Counsel Financial was exactly what we needed. Since then Counsel Financial has been a wonderful partner in helping us serve our clients and grow our business.
What first inspired you to start your own legal practice?
It was primarily a pep talk from a mentor of mine, Frank Razzano. He’s been practicing in Washington D.C. for over 40 years, and I worked for him as a second year summer associate. I remember one day we were having lunch, and he turned to me and said, “You know, every single lawyer I know who has ever done what you are thinking about doing [opening a law firm], has looked back it at it as a positive, happy moment in his or her career.”
I’ll never forget his advice. It is what caused me to take that first, scary step towards opening my own practice. Up to that point, I had always been working at a firm as an associate—I was a junior guy working for other people. Then, when I went out on my own, I was finding my own work and running my own business. I could never go back after that.
What advice would you give to attorneys who want to start their own practice?
It is not for the faint of heart or for anyone that does not want to work hard. It is like being a boxer—you are going to take some punishment. Before you ever step into the ring you are going to have to do a lot of work. But, my experience is that working with friends who are colleagues makes a tough job so much nicer and more fulfilling.
Outside of law, what interests do you have?
I am a husband, a father and a soccer coach. Our son, who is ten, also plays chess, which means on the weekends we are traveling a lot for that and soccer.
My wife and I are also active in our son’s school and in church. I play a lot of squash, and I am an enthusiastic (but bad) golfer.
This question and answer article is the first in a series of interviews with leading plaintiffs’ attorneys. If you are interested in reading more of these interviews please click here, or if you would like to leave a comment on specific issues or topics you want covered fill out below.
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