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[Below is a transcription of the podcast]
Cheri Landin: Welcome to The Mortgage Company’s Community Partner Podcast Series. My name is Cheri Landin and I’m the Community Development Director and one of the pleasures of this job for me is that I get to interview some of our community partners and we get to learn more about them and share it with all of our other community partners. So today I am here with Victoria Edwards. Hi Victoria!
Victoria Edwards: Hello.
Cheri Landin: Take a minute and introduce yourself and let us know what you do. Sure.
Victoria Edwards: My name is Victoria Edwards. I have a law firm called Edwards Law PLLC and in that capacity, I am a business attorney that does business sale, business purchase, business formation, business contract review and drafting and business litigation.
Cheri Landin: Sounds like a lot of business.
Victoria Edwards: It is.
Cheri Landin: That’s good. And you know one of the interesting things, I think, just about attorneys are there’s God only knows how many different kinds right? So clearly everything you just described really just talks about your expertise in the business community on many levels.
Victoria Edwards: Absolutely. I come from a background where I’ve worked with many large law firms. And when I left there my goal was to apply the skills I learned in that setting to a smaller setting, helping small business owners like myself with everyday things to deal with in their business.
Cheri Landin: So well that’s good because there’s a lot of small business out there I do know that and I think that most of them need some help.
Victoria Edwards: I’m sure they do.
Cheri Landin: Alright. Let’s go back for a minute and just give me a little bit more about your history. Maybe tell me what drew you to the field that you are in and maybe a little bit about your experience in the bigger firms and how long you’ve been out on your own.
Victoria Edwards: Sure. OK, so this is a funny story. So going back to when I was young, probably about 10 years old. I grew up in a very modest family. My father lost his job a couple times when I was young and you know things were hard, it was hard to make ends meet. Living off of hotdogs and hamburgers. So I told myself, when I get older I’m not going to worry about money. I’m going to become a lawyer, which I couldn’t be a doctor because I just don’t work well with blood. So I was like I’m going to be a lawyer. And my dad’s like OK let’s just get through grade school and high school first. So I kept that in mind, worked really hard, my father took me to Catholic school thinking it was the best he could do for me, and then once I was in college he was like you’re on your own. So I saved up money in high school working at Wendy’s, went to college paid my way through that and law school, and ended up in New York City after graduating from Boston College and landed at a very decent law firm where I got very good bankruptcy litigation experience. That wasn’t what I wanted to do so I moved on after a couple of years there and went to a bigger law firm that was worldwide. I did basically dispute resolution which is just litigation for big, ginormous companies. Got a lot of motion drafting practice but nothing in the courtroom because at big law firms you don’t get to do that. So I stayed there for a couple of years, got married and then my husband I both had dreams of coming to Colorado. And so in 2007, the market was amazing and I landed a job very quickly when I was out here on vacation going rafting. I said, we’re going! So we just packed up our Jeep, the dog, on the very top the jeep a pile of stuff and left the house and just came out in 2007. We got a place and started working at a small litigation boutique firm for about a year and a half. Then I saw a huge opportunity at a bigger national law firm to open up a Denver office, which I thought would be so fun. So I was the first attorney hired by that managing partner and helped him hire attorneys, manage caseloads, I mean a huge docket. I did that for about five and a half years and then well into that, probably about five years, had my daughter and realized hours weren’t getting any shorter, I was working over 2000 hours a year. And so I decided I’m going to go figure out if I can do something on my own. So I saved some money, started a couple of businesses that didn’t go anywhere in 2014, and then finally in June of 2016 started my own practice.
Cheri Landin: Good for you. You’re over the biggest obstacle right?
Victoria Edwards: Yeah and I’m doing I’m doing really well. So thankful. I count my blessings every day.
Cheri Landin: That’s a great story. And just listening to you a little bit describing that it sounds like you like litigation.
Victoria Edwards: I do. I’m drawn to it, it’s my personality.
Cheri Landin: I would do that too. If I were a lawyer, I would be a litigator. So litigation right. You would be best at explaining that.
Victoria Edwards: So it’s basically a dispute between the individual and the company, two individuals, two companies but it could be based on a number of things. I do civil, which is not criminal. So criminal is a whole different area. I don’t do family either, that’s domestic, divorces, child custody, that’s a whole separate matter. So I do ci.vil disputes which means you have a contract with a flooring company and they don’t perform under that contract and you want to sue them either to replace what they did or to get your money back. And hopefully, ideally they’ll work with you but quite often they won’t. And that’s when you have to sue somebody and pursue what’s called litigation. It’s just filing a complaint in court either in county or district state court or federal if it’s a different matter and then off you go. They respond and you either win or you don’t. Quite often those types of things settle because litigation is so expensive. But yeah that’s basically what it is: just trying to resolve a dispute with the court
Cheri Landin: Right. And it seems like in many areas of law you don’t necessarily go into a courtroom to argue or there’s a lot of settlements of the amount that actually goes in and is probably not great.
Victoria Edwards: Quite often people are emotional when they have to deal with a dispute like this. But I will always advise if it’s not more than 50000 dollars you’re going after, don’t bother. Litigation is so expensive. So to take a simple case to trial is probably 50 or 60 thousand. So it’s a lot
Cheri Landin: Alright, so I know you represent a lot of businesses. Can you give me an example of, let’s say if you were to think right now of your best client. Describe that.
Victoria Edwards: My best clients are repeat clients. And I have a couple of those. Fortunately for them, unfortunately for me, they don’t get into a lot of litigation. But what I’ll see quite often is a small business owner, either own a company, varies what type of company but they quite often have employees, or they have investors they work with or members that own the company as well. So you deal with a lot of contract disputes like operating agreements when someone’s owed money. Someone wants to leave, someone wants to buy more shares in the company, there are disputes and I handle that. I also have a client that’s a construction company owner and so he has a lot of disputes with 1099 employees. He’s learned stole information from them and so he wants to terminate them and make sure that he gets money from current projects they’re working on so all the disputes like that. Like your day to day business disputes.
Cheri Landin: They are day to day.
Victoria Edwards: They are. Yeah. So and I pride myself on being kind of like that on-call attorney. Not the one that is going to say, “OK talk to my secretary and get back to me in a week.” They usually call me when they need something tomorrow and based on my experience working with bigger clients that demand that from bigger firms, I usually am able to accommodate those types of requests. So that’s when I’ll become valuable and then hopefully be an ongoing attorney for them.
Cheri Landin: Yeah. So there’s a lot of people out there with small businesses and maybe they’ve talked to an attorney at some point in time and maybe they haven’t. Or there are people out there who would love to go into business for themselves. When is the right time for someone in those situations to speak with an attorney?
Victoria Edwards: As soon as possible because quite often people don’t want to pay for an attorney until they have to pay for an attorney. And when you have to pay for an attorney, it’s quite expensive because that means litigation. So what I would recommend to anybody is anticipate potential issues and make sure you’re covered. Talk to an attorney right away. For example, if you’re thinking about starting a business, you’re at the beginning stages. Make sure you talk to an attorney about forming that company, the pros and cons of doing corporation versus LLC, what kind of documents you should have in place before you start hiring people or going into business with someone, just being another business owner. Because it can be hunky dory in initial stages. It is a great idea but then when you are actually making money and people change their tune, you need something like an operating agreement that kind of dictates people’s roles and what they contribute and what they don’t. So very beginning stages. Also if you’re at a stage where you’ve gotten past the year, you feel good, you’re making money, and you start hiring employees. That’s another a good time to talk to an attorney because you want to make sure you have your contracts in place. You don’t want employees stealing your stuff, starting a new business, you don’t want them disclosing stuff to other potential competitors. So you want to have a non-compete, you want to have a nondisclosure in place and then also a typical employee contract if it’s a W-2 situation where they have rights under state law. So at that stage and then periodically check if your business changes and you have different concerns, you want your contracts to reflect that with your employees and with your customers. So you know it’s an ongoing process and that’s why it’s always nice to have an attorney involved in the beginning so they know your business and they can help you with those decisions along the way.
Cheri Landin: Yeah and you know I think that’s so important. Just thinking as we’re talking, we want to say, well I’m just going to go and Google why would I do this over that. And then I just download this document and I sign here and I don’t know what to do with it. You file it, you put it under your pillow, what do you do with those? Why should someone not do that?
Victoria Edwards: Yes absolutely, great question. Because there’s so much out there online, you could do everything yourself legally. The only issue with that is that those generic contracts don’t usually cover every fact pattern. And you have to really consider the area that you’re in of work to make sure that those contracts cover what you need, they might not. Also, laws are very state specific so depending on what state you’re in you’re going to want to make sure. You don’t know if that contract pertains to everyone in the country. States laws differ vary greatly, especially with employment, non compete situations. Like California, you really can’t stop anybody from competing with you. Whereas Colorado has some ways to restrict an employee from going out and taking your stuff and starting a business. So it’s really state specific. It doesn’t make sense not to talk to an attorney because most attorneys like myself, will offer a 20-30 minute free consult. Kind of give you an idea of what you should be looking at. So in the event you don’t want to hire them yet, at least you know what your options are and that if you are presented with this situation then I have to come see you.
Cheri Landin: Yeah and I also feel, like you said, nine times out of ten you figure out you need an attorney too late when something’s going wrong. Wouldn’t it be lovely if when something arose like that, you already had a relationship with someone and you didn’t have to start from scratch and explain the whole situation. So develop that relationship, have it there, use it when you need to but stay in touch. Does that make sense?
Victoria Edwards: Absolutely and it’s all about the trust and relationship you have with your attorney because you are going to be paying a lot of money for an attorney. You have to trust them. You have to believe that they’re making the right decisions for you. And they’re working your best interest which all attorneys should, not all attorneys do and I could tell you some stories about that another time.
Cheri Landin: Yes. Absolutely. Alright well, that’s great. So clearly you’re loving the entrepreneurs, you’re loving the growing businesses, you’re loving all that stuff and I think it’s a dream of so many people out there, so why not start developing those relationships now. Even I think it would be a great consult to figure out how do I do this if it is a dream. You’ve done it. You’ve got the first-hand experience.
Victoria Edwards: I did and I tell you what, I was so scared initially to start on my own. I put it off for two years after leaving my big firm life. Thinking I don’t know if I can do this. But yes, you can. And you know it’s just a matter of believing in it and taking the time to get to know people in your community anywhere. And just being a good person and a hard worker and it eventually pays off.
Cheri Landin: Which I can tell you are. That’s awesome. Alright so I’m sure there are people listening right now to the podcast, they’re driving around and some of this is resonating with them, they’re saying you know what? Maybe I ought to have a conversation with that Victoria Edwards. So if there’s someone out there listening, how are they going to get in touch with you?
Victoria Edwards: Yeah. So you can check out my website. I’ve been doing blogs for a while now. And if not you’re not ready to talk to an attorney but want to see if there’s any advice out there you can get, go to www.edwardslawpllc.com. I have a host of blogs on there, podcasts as well you can listen to if you’re driving like you are now and you just need some advice initially before you make that decision to see an attorney. If you’re ready to see an attorney, I’d love to see you. I have a shared office in downtown Denver at 600 17th Street or I have an office in the Cherry Creek area. But either way, if you want to come see me in person or just set up a coffee meet and greet give me a call so we can do that. My number is 303-586-7206.
Cheri Landin: Alright, awesome thanks for sharing your story Victoria. And congratulations one more time.
Victoria Edwards: Thank you. Thanks for having me. I appreciate that.
About Victoria Edwards
Victoria Edwards is a skilled general business and litigation attorney with over 14 years of experience litigating for and advising large banking and financial institutions, insurance/oil & gas/mining companies, construction companies, and various small businesses on complex business matters, including contract formation and interpretation, and novel bankruptcy issues.
With her substantial litigation experience in the highest courts in the region, Ms. Edwards now works with small businesses and entrepreneurs to anticipate potential issues with their business matters, as well as to initiate and manage commercial and civil liability disputes, such as contracts, commercial law matters, breach of contract and business torts, and unfair competition/unfair business practices/defamation issues.
Ms. Edwards is admitted to practice law in the state courts of Colorado, California, New York, and New Jersey. She is also admitted to practice in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, the District of Colorado, the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Colorado, all of the District Courts and Bankruptcy Courts of California, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Circuits.