Comstock's magazine 0119 - January 2019 - Page 69

SPECIAL PROMOTIONAL SECTION firm in Sacramento. “As business is getting more complex, professional services are getting more specialized, especially in cer- tain areas such as HR, taxes and with more complex transactions.” SPECIALISTS REDEFINING GENERAL PRACTICE FIRMS Although known as a general practice law firm, Weintraub Tobin offers specialized service in five offices statewide on issues that range from entertainment law and intellectual property to estate planning, real estate transactions, litigation, and mergers and acquisitions, among others. Gary Bradus, an attorney with the firm, explains that when the Sacramento office was formed, “We decided to be a full-service law firm” and that meant addressing one of the biggest issues facing any business; its relationship with employees. “Unless you are an entrepreneur, you will be hiring employees and if you hire in California, you face a lot of issues, from overtime and termination to how to handle accusations of sexual harassment,” Bradus says. To address that need, Weintraub To- bin added specialized HR expertise to its repertoire, offering its clients training in a broad range of personnel-related work- place issues as well as counseling to ad- dress specific instances with individual employees. It reflects a trend that is redefining many general practice law firms and other consultant companies, blurring the distinc- tion between generalists and specialists. As a result, Delfino’s firm also provides counseling and training on workplace issues to his clients, which tend to be medium-sized and large businesses. “They typically have an HR manager and a general counsel and we work with them on more complex situations.” The trend toward incorporating new specialized services extends to technology as well. Most of Todd Bollenbach’s cus- tomers at GNT Solutions (Editor’s note: Comstock’s is a client of GNT Solutions) “I’M A LAWYER, BUT I WANT TO BE A TRUSTED ADVISER. WE’RE IN THE RELATIONSHIP BUSINESS.” - Gary Bradus, attorney, Weintraub Tobin operate computer networks with between 20 and 200 terminals, even though many do business worldwide. But in this era of cybersecurity and a new generation of em- ployees accustomed to working on many mobile platforms, services in the IT world have expanded beyond debugging pro- grams and fixing plug-ins. “We look six to 36 months down the road and help companies understand how to invest in technology and how technolo- gy drives their business,” Bollenbach says. “Our job is not to tell them what to do, but to give them two or three different solu- tions, based on price points.” In response to increased concerns over hacking and cybersecurity since GNT Solutions was formed 15 years ago, the company “mor- phed into providing more information se- curity,” Bollenbach says. Those services include basics such as teaching employees how to safeguard data while using email but also include more sophisticated measures to reduce risk and recover from a disaster when an entire computer system is compromised by fire or long-term electrical outages. LONG-TERM PARTNERSHIPS WORK BEST Bollenbach and others agree that long- term relationships enable them to provide a comprehensive service that gives clients a higher return on investment. “I’d rather have a long-term client than a one-off,” Delfino says. “The more I know about where they want to take their company the better I can know the risks they face. The more I can be part of a team, the better I can look out for their interests.” “We’re in this for the long term and look for clients who are looking long-term,” says Maggie Bender-Johnson of Warren G. Bender Company insurance, which has cli- ents who have worked with the company for half of its 80 years. “We really immerse ourselves in the business of our clients. It takes really getting to know a client and what their exposure to liability is to look out for their best interests,” adds Bend- er-Johnson, who also reviews contracts and a company’s operations to assess risk and advise clients on ways of reducing their liability. It’s a service initiated by her father years ago to differentiate the fam- ily business from more traditional insur- ance companies. Using data from DMV records, for example, Bender-Johnson re- cently was able to help a client develop a safety plan for a fleet of company vehicles, lowering the client’s insurance premiums. Just as clients shop for consultants, consultants look for clients that fit their culture, budget expectations and exper- tise. “I’m a lawyer, but I want to be a trust- ed adviser,” says Bradus of Weintraub To- bin. “We’re in the relationship business.” And if the relationship isn’t a good fit, Bradus and others say they are always will- ing to refer a client to other firms, includ- ing “boutique” companies that offer fewer specialties or that may be better suited to one-off jobs. “The client’s interests always come first,” says Bender-Johnson. n Bill Sessa is a Sacramento-based freelance writer. Contact him at January 2019 | 69